Horses with wounds or lacerations heal best when… you give horses the opportunity for healing plus the optimum nutrition to do that job with. Every injury triggers physiological responses that are hard-wired in horses as they are in every living creature. These cascades must be enabled to run freely in order to make a good job of healing wounds or lacerations. Professor Derek Knottenbelt OBE, BVM&S, DVMS, DipECEIM, MRCVS goes as far as to say that “when a wound doesn’t heal promptly there is always a reason, and until you figure out and address that reason, it never will heal”. Horses incur wounds and lacerations by ripping tissue on objects such as (nails in) fences, gates, walls, trees and other such random objects they could have walked around. Of course wounds or lacerations can occur also during competition and road traffic accidents.
“Horses are very accomplished healers, which is terrific because they are also very accomplished at getting into trouble”. Melissa Mckee DVM.
When wounds or lacerations occur, keep calm and stay focussed! Control the active bleeding, check which structures are involved (soft tissue, synovial cavities, abdomen, lungs, bones) and determine the need for referral. Veterinary help is absolutely necessary in case of: tendon injury, penetration of a synovial structure, extensive degloving injury, severe blood loss, neurologic signs, involvement of the thoracic or abdominal cavity. In most cases you have enough time… an average-sized horse has 35 litres of circulating blood of which they can lose some 15% (5.25 litres) before showing signs of hypovolaemia (shock due to blood loss). Check that gums aren’t pale and taking longer than 3 seconds to return to pink after you press on them firmly with your thumb. Check that pulse rate isn’t racing towards 60-80 bpm. Check for peripheral pulses. Check that breathing isn’t fast and shallow. Fortunately, most horse that sustain wounds or lacerations do not go into shock, the challenge is how to make wounds and lacerations heal safest, fastest and with the least amount of scarring.
What facilitates equine wound healing
Horses with wounds or lacerations heal best when… you stick to the three things that encourage wound healing more than anything else: 1) strictest wound hygiene i.e. keep the wound/laceration meticulously clean, 2) optimum immobilisation i.e. littlest possible movement of the wound and 3) optimum nutrition that feeds your horse in such a way that wound healing is actively encouraged. Optimum nutrients on the inside and optimum hygiene on the outside is what safe and fast healing is about. Prof Knottenbelt’s opinion is that “the huge majority of equine wounds do just fine with a thorough flushing with warm water or saline and then being covered with a simple hydrogel bandage”. Hydrogels tend to have few adhesive properties and therefore do not adhere to and remove healthy tissue. The Veterinary Nurse has a rather good article on bandages.
The one GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) herb that par excellance is associated with safe and better wound healing is aloe vera. The fly in aloe vera’s ointment are manufacturers. Horses with wounds or lacerations heal best when the aloe vera (fed in tandem with feed) has an optimum nutrient density and is delivered in optimum dosage. The page What does aloe vera do (notably What does aloe vera do it with) explains clearly why a horse is much helped with 1 sachet (400ml optimised to 2,000mg powder) every day. It explains why aloe vera is so focussed on and useful for wounds and lacerations. Alexander the Great, at the advice of Aristotle, captured the Socotra archipelago (Aden Governorate) on which aloe vera grew and the juice of which would treat the wounds of Alexander’s soldiers… that’s 356 – 323 BC, so medicinally there’s nothing new under the sun. Plenty of good research on aloe vera confirms its beneficial effect on wound healing and we, as a small UK manufacturer, make aloe vera way better and more affordable than anyone else does. Feed your horse the β (1,4) linked polysaccharides that direct other nutrients to facilitate wounds or lacerations healing.
In the ever changing world of wound dressings, Acemannan hydrogels show promise for speeding up wound healing by helping to facilitate autolytic debridement. These hydrogels are three-dimensional, water-swollen sheets of gel-like material produced from the major carbohydrate fraction of… aloe vera! Because these don’t allow fluid through, they work best on less exudative wounds or over denuded bone. Wounds heal best when they are kept moist, not wet. Feeding your horse Aloeride aloe vera gives it a high dosage, proven high nutrient density aloe vera that helps accelerate wound healing completely safely in any type of wound.
“Murphy has had sweet itch for over eight years ever since we bought him. Murphy would rub and scratch that much he would nearly fall over and many a time we have found bits of his flesh on fence posts. He now scores an 8-9 in condition this year which has been his best year ever”. Michael Jones