Researchers weigh pros and cons of bandaging horse wounds

Are you in the habit of bandaging your horse’s wounds, or leaving them to “air out”? Is one approach better than the other? A new study attempts to answer this question.

If your horse has a wound, should you bandage it or not? Until now, equestrians have relied on their own instincts and the advice of their veterinarians to determine whether or not to bandage equine wounds. While this approach is still wise, a new study is aiming to create a more research-based standard for bandaging.

“There’s still a long way to go before we can make recommendations about what’s better, but at this stage we’ve been able to complete a descriptive study, showing what’s going on in these wounds during healing,” says veterinarian Dr. Marcio Costa, one of the researchers. Dr. Costa and his colleagues evaluated wounds in four horses, with and without bandaging. The bandaged wounds developed soft moist tissue (known as proud flesh) and consequently took about a week longer to heal that those that were unbandaged. However, the bandaged wounds had less contamination from environmental bacteria.

The difference in healing times between limb and body wounds was also assessed. The physiological differences between wounds in these locations result in different healing times (limb wounds take longer to heal). The team hopes to use these findings to further explore best wound management practices.