It just seems our equine friends are prone to injury. I've encountered the routine cut or skinned leg along with the not-so-routine hoof puncture and corneal ulceration. Through the years, I've seen the importance of a well-stocked first aid kit.
In the short time I've owned horses, I've managed to assemble a pretty decent first aid kit. It started by combing the Internet and looking for suggestions. It grew from the practical experience of actually doctoring my horses. Each year I go through the contents and check inventory levels and expiration dates.
In their article, Your Barn's First Aid Kit,The Horse* recommends the following items:
- A rectal veterinary thermometer—the plastic digital kind is safer around the barn than a glass one, and gives faster readings.
- A pair of safety scissors (with rounded ends so you don’t accidentally cut into your horse if you’re snipping off a bandage).
- Another pair of small, sharp scissors, for suture removal.
- A stethoscope (inexpensive ones can be purchased through medical supply stores or pharmacies for less than $30).
- Self-sticking bandages such as Vetrap.
- Gauze squares at least three inches by three inches (where horses are concerned, larger is better!).
- Vaseline or another type of lubricating jelly (for the thermometer and for protecting the tender skin of your horse’s heels from chapping if you have to cold-hose a leg injury for several days).
- Medical adhesive tape.
- Gauze bandage such as Kling.
- Some type of cold pack, for days when cold hosing a new injury just isn’t possible—chemical packs that create "instant cold" are available, although in a pinch you can use a bag of frozen peas from your freezer.
- Stable bandages and quilts.
- An antiseptic wound cream (yellow furacin ointment is a popular choice) and a spray-on wound treatment such as furazolidone or Topagen.
- Hydrogen peroxide—its bubbling action is useful for cleaning dirt out of fresh wounds and for dealing with thrush (a fungal infection of the hooves), but don’t use it routinely on a healing wound as it will inhibit the healing process.
- An antiseptic scrub such as Betadine (povidone-iodine, or "tamed" iodine) or Nolvasan (chlorhexidine).
- Latex gloves.(consider latex-free just in case anyone treating your horse has a latex allergy.)
- A flashlight to help you see wounds in a gloomy stall at midnight.
- A bottle of saline solution—useful for cleaning out wounds in delicate places like around the eyes. A bottle of contact lens saline solution with a squirt nozzle is perfect.
- A roll of sterile cotton.
- Pre-moistened alcohol swabs (you can find these at your pharmacy, individually wrapped)—good for cleaning small wounds or creating a cleaner site for injections.
- A bottle of rubbing alcohol, for sterilizing instruments.
- Forceps or tweezers, for removing splinters, ticks, or other nasties.
- Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate)—mix with warm water to soak an abscessed foot.
- Iodine shampoo—good for various skin conditions, as directed by your vet.
- A quick-to-apply poultice such as Animalintex (which can be used hot or cold).
- Thick sanitary napkins (the obstetrical pads you can get at a hospital or pharmacy are good) or disposable diapers, for applying direct pressure to a bleeding wound.
- A hoof pick—you can never have too many.
- A farrier’s rasp and nippers, for removing a shoe if you need to (ask your farrier if he has cast-off ones he can donate to your cause).
- A hoof knife.
- Duct tape—useful in any emergency, and especially good for hoof wraps, as it’s water-resistant, moldable, and fairly durable.
- a roll of garbage bags - makes any bucket a clean bucket
- a couple tubes of electrolytes
- safety razors
- human first aid supplies
- antiseptic wipes (in addition to alcohol wipes)
So, have you checked your first aid kit recently? Might be the time to do so.
*The Horse may require registration to view the article. Registration is free and the site is an invaluable resource as all articles are veterinarian approved.