Every stable should have an equine first-aid kit, and if you are going to events, you should also have some first-aid items along. Equine first-aid kits needn’t be elaborate. Keep these emergency items in a sturdy box for unexpected horse injuries or illness. You don’t need to keep a stock of injectable or oral medications. Unless you are very experienced with reading symptoms medications may mask important indicators your veterinarian will need to diagnose a problem. They are best administered only with veterinarian supervision. But these basic items in your horse first-aid kit should help you take care of the most common problems you can deal with yourself, and help you cope with any injury until the veterinarian arrives.
What did we do before the availability of these stretchy self-sticking bandages? They seem to have so many uses around the stable. In a first-aid situation use them to keep a dressing in place, or help support stable wraps. There are lots of different name brands such as VetWrap, Co-Flex, and others. There will be little difference between the ones you buy at the tack shop, and the ones you can buy at the pharmacy so chose the ones you can afford.
Mercury or Digital Thermometer
A thermometer will quickly tell you if your horse has an elevated temperature—a sure sign of a health problem that needs attention. You may prefer digital over mercury as you don’t need reading glasses or a watch to get an accurate reading. Some models save the last temperature taken, should you forget to write it down. A string and clip feature will help prevent the thermometer from getting ‘lost’.
A pair of sharp scissors is essential in a horse first aid kit. If you have wire fences there is a chance your horse could get entangled. Keep a pair of wire or bolt cutters handy. These can also be used to remove a very loose shoe.
Clean Stable Wraps
Keep a clean set of leg wraps handy for emergencies. Since you want them to be clean and ready, have an extra set of stable wraps in your horse first aid kit, besides the ones you might be using for non-emergency use.
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Gamgee, Gauze Diapers, Cottons or Other Padding
You'll need something for padding under leg wraps or cut up for wound dressing such as:
- Gamgee cloth
- Disposable diapers (although they are not breathable).
- Roll of cotton gauze bandage
- Leg cottons used under stable wraps work as well. The cottons must be kept clean so seal an extra set in a zip closure bag for your first aid kit.
In fact, zip closure bags are very handy for keeping your horse's first aid kit organized.
Zinc Oxide Cream
A big, inexpensive tub of zinc oxide cream is handy to soothe and protect sunburned noses, help clear up grease heel, and protect and heal minor cuts and nicks. You can find zinc oxide creams in the baby care section of your drugstore. An effective by inexpensive one called Ilhes Paste can also be found alongside where baby diaper and rash creams are sold.
Epsom salts are great for drawing out infection. Many people use good old salt water to wash out cuts and scrapes on both four legged and two legged family members. Both are inexpensive items you can buy at the grocery, pharmacy or bulk food store.
Antiseptic Wound Cleaner, Cream, or Ointment
You'll find an antiseptic wound cleaner such as Betadine is useful for washing skin infections, cuts, and punctures. These injuries can be encouraged to heal by keeping the skin moist and clean. There is a wide variety of products available. You can choose from all natural products or products containing various medicinal and antibiotic ingredients.
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There are lots of great veterinary first aid books on bookstore shelves. Buy one and read it before an emergency happens. Another book you’ll want is a small notebook to keep track of temperatures or write down things you want to tell the vet and may forget in your worry. Keep both books in your first aid kit with your vet’s number written on the covers. Of course, keep your veterinarian’s number near the phone as well.
If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet’s health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.