Q5) What is the correct way to bandage a wound?
There are many types of bandages that are appropriate for the different body
parts that may require bandaging. There are also types of bandages that
serve different functions. You need to know what type of bandage to use in
It is a good idea to practice bandaging your horse's legs, feet, knees and
hocks when there is no injury and the situation is less stressful.
First, you need to determine what the bandage will accomplish. Think
about why you want to bandage a wound:
- to keep it clean and/or free from insects?
- to keep medicine or ice on the wound?
- to reduce swelling or bleeding?
- to keep injured tissue in place?
If you want to keep the wound clean and/or free from insects, a coating of
petroleum jelly or cream based insect repellent might suffice. Keeping a
leg wound clean may only require a track bandage. A fly mask would keep a
face wound free from insects.
If you want to hold medication or an ice pack on a wound, use bandaging
material that is stretchy and light-weight and doesn't have any
If you want to reduce swelling or bleeding, you need to use padding under the
bandaging material. If blood seeps through the padding and bandage, just
add more padding and bandage - don't discard the used material - you might
interfere with clotting that is taking place. Apply ice to reduce
If you want to keep injured tissue in place, first try and get the edges of
the skin tissue back in place using your clean fingers. Then apply a
thickness of gauze squares over the wound and secure with elastic or stretchy bandaging
material to help control bleeding.
The various body parts of the horse require different types of bandaging:
- hoof boot - a commercial boot or bandaging material and duct tape to keep
the wound clean
- ice wrap - to reduce swelling of soft tissue injuries
- standard leg wrap - on lower leg or forearm to keep medication in place
and keep wound clean
- pressure wrap - usually on any leg wound that is bleeding profusely
- hock or knee bandage - to reduce swelling, limit movement and cover a
- bowed tendon bandage - to reduce swelling and protect the tendon from more
Learning how to correctly bandage a wound takes time, patience and
practice. There are many excellent resources which explain in detail
the "how-to" of bandaging. Many vet clinics offer seminars where
you can get hands-on experience. Take advantage of the resources available
and practice on your uninjured horse.
There are many books on the subject of health care and first aid. In addition to the list below, you can find more in the
Veterinary Care section of the online
Other valuable resources include: