what IN­FEC­TION looks like

EQUUS - - Eq Handson I -

Af­ter the vet­eri­nar­ian leaves, the task of mon­i­tor­ing a heal­ing wound for signs of in­fec­tion falls to you, your horse’s care­taker. But if you aren’t ac­cus­tomed to it, the sight of an open wound can be alarm­ing, even if it’s healthy and heal­ing on sched­ule. How do you dis­tin­guish “ew” from “in­fected”? Here are a few tips:

• All heal­ing wounds pro­duce ex­u­date, a slimy dis­charge con­tain­ing cel­lu­lar de­bris that forms on the sur­face. Ex­u­date alone isn’t a sign of in­fec­tion. How­ever, a dra­matic in­crease in the amount or a change in color can be.

• Healthy wounds typ­i­cally don’t have an odor, but an in­fected wound will of­ten smell rot­ten. At the same time, a healthy, moist wound un­der a ban­dage may emit an odor when first un­cov­ered, and any wound near a hoof smells foul when first un­wrapped. If these odors per­sist af­ter 20 min­utes of “air­ing out,” it may be cause for con­cern.

• Swelling is to be ex­pected with a wound but will steadily de­crease

if heal­ing is pro­gress­ing nor­mally. Don’t con­fuse a wound fill­ing in with gran­u­la­tion tis­sue with swelling, how­ever. Look for swelling of the tis­sues im­me­di­ately sur­round­ing the wound and sus­pect in­fec­tion if it wors­ens.

• Wounds are likely to cause some de­gree of pain or dis­com­fort, but these di­min­ish quickly with heal­ing. If your horse sud­denly seems more re­ac­tive or up­set when you tend to the wound than he did the day be­fore, it could be the re­sult of in­fec­tion.

• Heat in the skin around a wound can be a sign of a de­vel­op­ing in­fec­tion, as is a fever. If you no­tice ei­ther call your vet­eri­nar­ian.

If you’re in doubt about how a wound is heal­ing, snap a pic­ture and send it to your vet­eri­nar­ian for guid­ance.

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