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First Aid for Horses

Horses June 14, 2014

First aid for Horses and other equines

If you have mules or horses you know that sooner or later you will be faced with a medical emergency of some kind, things happen no matter how careful we are. There are several factors that make equines especially accident prone like the instinctive flight or fight response, establishing the pecking order in the herd, and their natural curiosity. These account for many of the cuts, bruises and abrasions that most of us contend with. There are other types of medical emergencies such as colic, acute lameness, foaling problems, heat stroke, and seizures. You need to learn how to recognize, respond quickly and calmly, and what should you do while waiting for the vet.

How Prepared Are You ?

If you have equines there is bound to come a time when you will be faced with a medical emergency. You must not allow panic to overcome you, this will cloud your judgment and ability to asses the immediate needs of the injured mule/horse. Have a plan of action, rehearse the initial steps you will take in an emergency situation. Here is a guideline to help get you started;
A. Keep the veterinarian’s number, including after hours number, by each phone. Don’t rely on everyone knowing the speed dial code.
B. Consult with your vet about a back-up or referring vet, in case your regular vet can’t be reached.
C. Know the most direct route to an equine emergency center in case you need to transport the mule/horse. It is also a good idea to keep written directions in the first aid kit or near the phone
D. Keep a list of friends and neighbors names and phone numbers who could assist you in an emergency posted next to the phones.
E. Prepare a first aid kit and place it in a clean, dry , readily accessible place. And make sure that everyone using the barn knows where it is.
F. Keep a smaller first aid kit in your trailer and a more scaled down version for taking on trail rides.

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The initial steps you take to treat a wound can prevent further damage and speed the healing in your mule. Of course how you proceed will depend on the individual circumstances, and you must exercise your good judgment. The following is to be used only as a guideline.
1. Catch and calm the mule and move him to a stall without causing distress or further injury.
2. Get help before you attempt to treat or evaluate the wound. At best it could be difficult to inspect or clean a wound while also trying to hold the mule.
3. Once you have located and evaluated the depth and severity of the wound contact your vet if you feel emergency medical attention is needed.
4. Consult you veterinarian before attempting to clean the wound or remove debris or penetrating objects, as this may precipitate uncontrollable bleeding.
Don’t put anything on the wound except cold water or a compress.
5. Stop the bleeding by covering the wound with a sterile absorbent pad, not cotton, apply firm, steady, even pressure to the wound.
6. Do not medicate or tranquilize unless directed by your vet. If there has been severe blood loss or shock, the administration of certain drugs can be life threatening.
7. If the eye is injured do not attempt to treat yourself. Contact your vet and wait for him.
8. All mules/horses being treated for lacerations or puncture wounds will require a tetanus booster.

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