Horses are some of the most accident-prone creatures on the face of the earth! If you care for horses, you’ll most certainly have to deal with treating minor wounds at some point. Here we’ve provided a handy guide to what ointments to use at which stages of wound treatment and healing.
When you first find a cut or scrape on your horse, your first instinct may be to cover it with a thick cream or gooey ointment, but slathering on a handful of sticky cream can actually slow healing at this early stage of the game. Your best bet is to thoroughly clean the wound, flushing out dirt and bacteria, and then apply a water-based preparation such as Vetericyn. Using a thinner dressing that is water-based allows the body’s white blood cells to move freely within the wound, ridding the body of debris and bacteria that may be present. At this stage in the healing process, a wet, oozing wound is good! The horse’s body will flush out contaminants on its own, and you can help by cleaning the wound and re-applying a water-based dressing daily.
As long as you are able to keep the wound clean, resist the urge to use an antibiotic ointment. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, and over-use can set your horse up for serious infections later on.
As the cut heals, new skin will begin to grow. NOW is the time to use those thick creamy ointments! New tissue is fragile and tender, and can become easily dry and cracked. Slathering on a coat of emollient cream containing lanolin or aloe can help protect new tissue, as well as keep it hydrated and flexible. Once the new skin thickens up and hair starts to grow back, you can stop applying ointment.
If a wound becomes infected (swollen, red, hot, excessive green or yellow drainage) or you are uncomfortable treating it for any reason, it’s always a good idea to call your veterinarian.