Quick shout out to all the UF Vet students, our Docs, and our amazing Clinic staff for an awesome Castration Clinic 2016. The world got nine new geldings on Saturday, and a whole bunch of vet students learned how to make more geldings. Of course, the highlight of everyone’s day was getting to see me. I supervised the entire event very closely, especially lunch. Now on to the rest of this week’s peek into my life.
You already heard about all the colics Dr. Lacher saw over Thanksgiving. Now you will get to hear about the lacerations. As far as I can tell, horses like to seek out any and all sharp things to cut themselves on. Sometimes they do such a good job the humans are left scratching their heads trying to determine what exactly the horse cut themselves on this time. Dr. Lacher’s Thanksgiving weekend consisted of an eyelid laceration split on the hook of a feed bucket, an ankle laceration done on a fence, and a shoulder laceration cut on who knows what (the horse wouldn’t tell).
Everyone who sees a cut of any size is certain there will be stitches. Well this wise cat is here to tell you not all wounds can be sutured, some shouldn’t be sutured, and some get stitches even when the Docs know they won’t stay in very long! In the case of Thanksgiving weekend it was stitches for the eyelid laceration, no stitches for the ankle, and stitches that were going to pull apart on the shoulder. The eye is obvious: there was a cut and stitches were placed. The wound will heal and all will be right with the world. The ankle was a little different. First, the skin was basically shaved off. It was super thin! Using a needle through the skin would have caused it to tear. Instead Dr. Lacher just cut it off. After she cut it off, she bandaged it with some Sox for Horses material. If you don’t know about Sox for Horses, I’m going to assume you have been hiding under some sort of rock or (and this better not be the case) you don’t read my blog very often. Use the Google thingy or ask one of my minions to tell you about Coby. Last, but not least, the shoulder cut. Dr. Lacher stitched the skin flap across but warned the owners it probably wouldn’t stay longer than about five days. So why did she suture it anyway? She’s a pretty smart cookie so I’m guessing she had a good reason….Turns out those skin flaps help the wound heal. For every day the skin flap is across the wound you gain 5 healing days. This means even if the skin flap stays for 3 days, you’ve shortened healing by 2 weeks! See I told you she was smart.
The wounds are now stitched or not stitched. What comes next? This is where it gets difficult for you humans. Do Less Stuff. That’s right, adopt the strategy of cats the world over: watch the world go by and do very little about it. As I was looking through a catalog Stephanie had open on the desk recently I noticed no less than 4,386 wound lotions, potions, and creams. Do you know how many our Docs use? Four, and mostly just two of those. What do they use a whole lot of? Water from a hose.
Wound care is simple. Keep the wound clean and moist, and sometimes because horses like to get a little too excited about healing, beat back the granulation tissue, also known as proud flesh. That’s it. Keep it clean with water, lots and lots of water. Then apply triple antibiotic or Vaseline to the wound to keep it moist. These products do double duty since they protect the wound itself from dirt while keeping it moist. If the Docs see a particularly nasty wound, they will recommend silver sulfadiazine (SSD). SSD has really strong nasty stuff killing properties, while being super gentle on wounds. And finally, proud flesh is put in its place by hydrocortisone. So all told we just spent about $20 on wound care stuff. No pretty blue bottles with very dilute bleach. Yes, that really all that’s in those pretty blue bottles. No expensive state of the art wound gel. Vaseline and water will cure most of what your horse has done to himself.
Sometimes, particularly if a wound is on the legs, our Docs recommend bandaging. Sure the leg will do great with just a water and Vaseline but the dreaded proud flesh likes to become a problem below the hock and knees. Three words: Sox For Horses. Once again use the Google thing or talk with my minions and they will get you hooked up. These are absolutely the cat’s meow when it comes to bandages. Also they are easy, relatively cheap, and reusable. From my limited experience, these three things never go together with horses.
Signing off this week with a reminder to sign up for our 2017 Wellness Plan by January 1st. One colic owner and one laceration owner over Thanksgiving weekend saved $100 each on their unplanned Dr. Lacher visit. How you ask? Our Wellness Plans include NO emergency fees. You are as crazy as the Labrador from down the street if you don’t sign up.