Wounds and Lacerations (Book Excerpt)

One of the most important facts regarding severe wounds is that the sooner they are noticed and repaired the better the patient’s prognosis, both functionally and cosmetically.
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Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Understanding Equine First Aid by Michael A. Ball, DVM. 

One of the most important facts regarding severe wounds is that the sooner they are noticed and repaired the better the patient’s prognosis, both functionally and cosmetically. Another aspect of wounds is that they bleed, some significantly more than others. Blood loss will be considered in a separate chapter in this book, but will be discussed here in the context of wounds.

Good horse management and wound management begins with a routine vaccination program for protection from tetanus. The once-dreaded disease, also called lockjaw, still claims many horses’ lives each year. It is caused by the toxin from Clostridium tetani, which produces an endless spasm of the muscles in the jaw followed by severe contractions in all other muscles. It ends in a horrible death. Such an end is easily preventable.

Healthy horses should receive a first vaccination when they are weaned. It should be followed by annual booster shots of tetanus toxoid. If a wound might have become contaminated with soil, or if the immunization record for the wounded horse is unknown, the veterinarian will probably inject the horse with tetanus anti-toxin to give it a short-term measure of protection lasting a week or two. Vaccination records should be well-documented in writing and easily accessible for all of your horses. While your veterinarian keeps such records, you should also keep a set of records that travel with the horse

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Michael A. Ball, DVM, completed an internship in medicine and surgery and an internship in anesthesia at the University of Georgia in 1994, a residency in internal medicine, and graduate work in pharmacology at Cornell University in 1997, and was on staff at Cornell before starting Early Winter Equine Medicine & Surgery located in Ithaca, New York. He was an FEI veterinarian and worked internationally with the United States Equestrian Team. He died in 2014.

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