Wound care is one of those many horse issues where there are as many opinions regarding treatment as there are horse owners and veterinarians. There are hundreds of agents (both commercial and home-brew) available to paint, spray, smear, gob, and cover wounds. You can use yellow ones, black ones, red ones, and even purple ones. On this point I am, for better or worse, a minimalist; most of the concoctions that have been applied to wounds actually have been shown to delay wound healing or further damage the tissue.

We will discuss some of these topical dressings later in this article. Seeing how most wounds of any nature involve some degree of blood loss (a fact that can be extremely alarming), I think it first would be useful to review some facts about blood.

Blood Loss (Hemorrhage)

Blood is an essential component of the mechanism whereby oxygen is transferred from the lung to all of the body’s organs and tissues. So just how much blood does a horse have? It varies some from breed to breed, but an average value is 80 ml (cc) per kilogram of body weight (100 ml/kg for hot bloods such as the Thoroughbred and 65 ml/kg for cold bloods such as a Percheron). So, the average 1,200 pound horse (545.5 kilograms at 2.2 kilograms per pound) has about 54.5 liters of blood, which is approximately 12.3 gallons.

So, how much can be lost before the danger of shock becomes significant? The general rule of thumb is that an animal will start to show signs of blood loss shock when 10% of his blood volume has been lost. Based on the averages, the adult 1,200 pound horse can lose up to eight quarts of blood before you have to be seriously concerned. Most bleeding from wounds appears to be a much larger volume of blood than it actually is, but any time there is hemorrhage, there should be an attempt to control it. The signs of blood loss shock include weakness, whole body sweating, colic, progressively elevated heart rate, and pale/wh