How can I tell if my horse’s wound is infected?
Horses are masters at getting cuts, scrapes, wounds, and injuries that require sutures. Even if they live in bubble wrap. Some cuts and scraps heal easily, others are more challenging. Puncture wounds can be tricky, sometimes they heal over superficially, trapping the rest of the wound inside with loads of bacteria. Whatever type of wound your horse shows up with, it’s always a good idea to have your Veterinarian inspect, clean and treat it. This is especially true for a suspected puncture wound, as these can go into a joint or other soft tissues and create serious problems.
Any wound has the potential to become infected, it’s up to us to notice what’s going on to nip a growing infection in the bud. Here’s what to look out for, even with the smallest or seemingly easy to heal cut.
- Is the area around the injury warm? This is often difficult to discern from the rest of your horse, but do your best to compare the wound area to the rest of your horse. Don’t rely on this indicator alone.
- Is the wound area swollen? A fresh injury will often swell because of the trauma, and it goes away over time. If the swelling gets worse, or goes away and then comes back, you could be dealing with an infection.
- Is the wound area tender? Gently squashing the wound area may make your horse flinch, and you may feel that the tissue just isn’t right. (I know, not exactly exact science…)
- Does everything smell OK? Once you have gotten a sniff of infected tissue, you will never forget that smell! If you have never known it, you will instantly know the first time.
- Is there any “goo” or “icky stuff” leaking from the wound? It may just be normal wound discharge, which is clear or creamy. If you see any super cloudy greenish or yellowish discharge, you likely have an infected wound.
Silly bandages do not increase, or decrease, the chance of infection. But they are totes adorbs.
It’s rare for a tiny wound to cause a systemic infection (where your entire horse is infected). But it can happen. That being said, it’s just another reason to take your horse’s temperature at least daily, twice daily if need be. You should make sure that your horse is vaccinated on a regular basis for tetanus. Your Veterinarian can help you determine a schedule for that!