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First Aid Kit for Hooves


   Most of us keep a basic first aid kit handy for ourselves and our horses, but is yours equipped for hoof injuries? This month I'm going to recommend a few items that every horse owner should have in their kit. Of course, I can't cover every type of emergency, but at I can help you prepare for the more common hoof injuries.
Hoof first aid items

The items above are:

A. Gauze Pads

B. Cohesive Wrap

C. Saline Wash

D. Irrigation Squeeze Bottle (optional)

E. Ichthammol Drawing Salve

F.Hoof Boot

G. Hoof Brush

H. Syringe (no needle, for flushing small wounds)

I. Cling Wrap  (not very abosrbent, but helps hold other layers in place and prevents tape from sticking to skin/hair)

J. Tourniquet (surgical tubing or could be any strip of cloth)

K. Gauze Roll

L. Duct Tape

M. Hoof Pick

N. Flashlight 

       Most of the items in your regular kit will work on hooves, so you won't have to make a bunch of special purchases, which saves on money and space if you know what items can serve double duty.
       First and foremost, you should always have lots of gauze and rolls of cotton, along with self-sticking bandage (like vetwrap), duct tape and scissors.  Also, some saline wash and large, clean syringes without needles. An antiseptic salve of your choice and some iodine and maybe even a blood stop powder (though corn starch works well for that!)  . Toss in an extra hoof pick and a stiff brush and some pliers. 
     Some other useful items would be cotton balls, iodine, latex gloves for you, a hoof boot that's a little big on your horse ( big so it can fit over gauze and such, or can be used to soak the foot in the case of an abscess), and nippers (especially if your horses are shod-you may need to pull a shoe in a hurry and nippers can cut both nails and hoof, and can assist in pulling off the shoe if the jaws open wide enough).
  The hoof pick and brush, obviously, remove debris to allow you to assess the situation and clean any wounds (or remove the source of a bruise-a rock, for instance). Flashlights are handy at this point if it's dark or you are trying to find a puncture hole.
   A syringe of saline water can flush wounds and remove debris without scrubbing or irritating the tissues, and saline is used in eyes, so there's that "double duty" we talked about, for eye, just use the bottle, not force pressure from a syringe.   Once a wound is flushed, (in a pinch, a garden hose can work), you should wrap it with gauze and a layer of cotton, then cohesive bandage to keep contamination out and protect the wound. On the hoof, duct tape can make the final, outer layer to keep the bandage from wearing through very quickly, but a hoof boot would be easier if you have one handy. In the case of lots of bleeding, diapers and maxi pads are wonderfully absorbent. Just duct tape them on, and they can pad a lame hoof. If the wound is bleeding profusely, do not remove the bandage while waiting for the vet, just leave the pressure wrap alone. The blodd will clot to it, and removing the bandage will encourage more bleeding.
   By the way, if you ever need to apply a tourniquet, old panty hose will do the trick, and can also help hold bandages over a joint, if you cut the toe out.
   Back to the other items....scissors, of course, cut bandage materials, pliers might remove a nail from a hoof (consult with a vet,or farrier first, as sometimes removing an object lets the blood flow if it was staunched by the foreign object and makes the hole hard to find). Then, of course is the salve, save this for after care. In real emergencies, salves can create an issue when the vet tries to clean the wound and can react with the agents he wants to use, and salves are not a priority, just stopping blood flow and general cleansing and protecting the wound are the priority.
  Be sure to check your horse's feet daily or at least as often as you possibly can. You will become familiar with your horses' "norm" and catch problems sooner, as well as prevent more potential problems (removing stones becomes less of an issue if your horse is barefoot, but you should still inspect the hoof for injuries and overall health). Some horses will step on a nail, yet not limp until it has festered into an abscess. Also, what a benefit if your horse is used to having his feet handled before there is an emergency. It can be very dangerous to examine and treat an injured, scared horse if he's not used to having his feet handled.