Poulticing made easy

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Poultices are used to draw out infection from a wound site when applied to an open wound in the form of awarm, wet pad.

They are mostly intended for use on the lower limbs, and are commonly used for foot abscesses.

Poulticing guidelines

  • Remove the shoe from the affected foot. Then, clean the foot in warm salt water (one tablespoon per pint)

  • After drying the foot, prepare the poultice. This will usually be an off-the-shelf brand such as Animalintex or KL Kaolin Poultice, so follow the instructions on the packet

  • Place the poultice on the affected part of the foot, then put a plastic bag over the top to prevent the poultice drying out. Secure the poultice with an elastic bandage. To keep it clean, use a poultice boot or wrap the bandaged foot in heavy-duty plastic, and secure with strong adhesive tape

  • Keep the horse stabled for as long as you need to poultice. However, he can be walked out in hand if the poultice is secured properly
  • Change the poultice twice daily for two days, then daily. Most poultices are applied for a week, but your vet may advise you to continue for longer

  • Hot tubbing with Epsom salts solution after removing a poultice and before replacing it may speed up the healing process. Use one tablespoon of Epsomsalts per pint of warm water. Place your horse’s foot in the water for 10 minutes. Dry thoroughly before re-applying a poultice

Remember:

Always phone your vet about even the smallest wound, especially if the horse is very lame.

He will help you decide whether a poultice is all that’s required, as often apparently unimportant wounds may belie serious underlying damage.

Do not apply a wet poultice to thrush – seek veterinary advice for treatment of this infection.

Take great care if poulticing an open skin-wound, as some poultices encourage proud flesh (the production of over-exuberant granulation tissue.

Originally published on horseandhound.co.uk