IS YOUR FIRST AID KIT HOOF FRIENDLY?
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.