Ask The Vet: Equine Wound Care

Answered by, Nolton Pattio, VMD, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Courtesy of AAEP

Question: I have a yearling colt that has eight perfectly round sores ranging from the size of a bean to a nickel between his hind legs where they rub together. The sores are slightly raised around the edges and ooze a yellowish clear liquid. They don’t seem to bother him but I am worried as to the cause and how to treat them? 

Answer: The sores between the hind legs may be caused by trauma or other irritation to the skin. The lesions may or may not be infected. The drainage may be serum or purulent exudate (pus). Please send pictures of the lesions for additional information.

Question: Is it preferred to use a probiotic spray on minor wounds instead of disinfectants, iodine, etc.?  

Answer: I think minor wounds are best managed using dilute antiseptics such as povidone iodine (Betadine) scrub and water. I would not use a probiotic spray for wound care. Topical antimicrobials such as silver sulfadiazine 1% cream, Betadine ointment, or nitrofurazine ointment are also useful.

Question: My horse has been slightly off with lameness in which my veterinarian advised sweating the legs with furazone. By the second day of wrapping, his legs were scalded and ended up with horrible fungus on front of his canon bones. My question is: when treating this condition and after washing, should the heavy scabs be debrided before applying medication or leave them alone? I am getting contradictory answers from the veterinarian and the product manufacturer. 

Answer: Based on what you wrote, your horse is allergic or hypersensitive to nitrofurazone ointment, which was used as a sweat to treat lameness. Topical nitrofurazone application irritated (blistered) the horse chemically, and may have resulted in fungal infection on the dorsal cannon region.

I suggest discontinuing the use of nitrofurazone ointment. I would wash the legs twice daily with povidone iodine (Betadyne) or chlorhexidine (Nolvasan) scrub solution and water. Apply to wet cotton and produce thick lather. Lather leg wound lesions and scrub … allow scrub solution lather to remain on legs for 10 minutes prior to rinsing with clean water. Dry legs with clean, dry towel.

After drying the legs, apply silver sulfadiazine 1% (Silvadene) cream to dorsal cannon lesions, and leave open (do not bandage).  The scabs should soften and be easily removable with the next scrubbing session.

You may want to try this treatment for 2 weeks and see if there is improvement… Good luck to you and your horse.