Ask The Vet: Wound Care

Courtesy of AAEP

Question: What is the best way to care for an open sore caused by Pigeon disease?

Answer: If the horse has truly been diagnosed with “Pigeon Breast”, contamination is a concern for the rest of the horses on your property. The wound heals by second intention usually. What that means is the body will create granulation tissue (scar tissue) to fill in the wound and allow the skin to heal over the opening. Pigeon Breast is lanced by your veterinarian and drained and cultured. . The opening is lavaged with a dilute antibacterial solution by the owner or by assistants at a clinic on a daily basis. At home, you can capture the discharge in a bucket and dispose of it in your garbage as well as the shavings from the stall to prevent contamination. If your horse is pastured, do not have other horses on the same pasture. Antibiotics may or may not be used, that is the discretion of your veterinarian on the case.

Question: How do you keep a bandage on a hock area laceration?

Answer: A figure eight type bandage is recommended for the hock area (it is similar to an ankle wrap on a person). Proper care of the laceration, either a nonstick pad or pad with antibiotic over the wound area is recommended with a 4-inch gauze roll to hold the pad in place. Again, the 4-inch roll gauze will need to be in a figure eight fashion possibly to hold the gauze over the wound. Always use a padded material, either roll cotton or a quilt on top of the gauze pad, and roll, under your vetrap. This will allow you to make a SNUG fit to your vetrap when wrapping it. Allow a small portion of the quilt or cotton roll to be showing under the vetrap at the top of your wrap and the bottom. Holes will need to be cut out over the point of the hock in the cotton roll or quilt so hock sores are avoided. Your vetrap’s final wrap should either be the circumference above or below the hock joint itself. This allows the vetrap to stick to itself more securely when the horse moves. Finally, less movement of the horse (possibly stalled) will keep the bandage on better. The more a horse moves around the looser the bandage becomes. A stacking bandage can be placed under the hock bandage to hold it in place depending on the site and size of the laceration, but a hock bandage, if done properly, will stay in place over the hock – again snug fit is recommended. Practice does make perfect when it comes to hock bandaging.

Question: My horse wears a cribbing collar. What is the best way to prevent and/or treat an open sore that he keeps getting on his neck from the collar rubbing when he attempts to suck air?

Answer: This is a challenge as all those owners with cribbers knows. I suggest that while he does not have the collar on, for example while you are riding, clean the wound up and place antibiotic ointment on it. My favorite cleaning product for open wounds is a dilute chlorhexidine solution (sky blue in color when diluted in water). As for antibiotic you can use neosporin or nolvasan ointment. There are some spray liquid bandages you can use as well that are found in the feed stores. To prevent future sores, you may want to place a fleece wrap on the leather where the sores are consistently occuring.