Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Wound to Front of Lower Limb or Leg

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If you wish to have the best functional and cosmetic outcome, no matter the cost.
  • If you notice lameness in addition to this sign.
  • If the wound occurred within the last 24 hours.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.
  • If the wound occurred over 24 hours ago.

The structures on the front (dorsal) part of the lower limb are not as critical to the weight bearing function of the limb as those in the back of the limb. For this reason, wounds to this area, even if they involve the extensor tendons, are usually not as likely to cause permanent lameness. On the other hand, if the extensor tendons are completely cut by the wound, the fetlock may knuckle over until function is regained.

The absence or presence of lameness is a helpful indicator of severity. Keep in mind, however, that lameness may not be immediately obvious, especially with joint wounds and tendon sheath wounds.

WHAT TO DO

Lower limb wounds should almost always be evaluated by your vet. If it will be long before your vet will arrive and your horse is not lame, ask them if you should clean and bandage the wound in a light bandage to protect it until they can examine it. Take a photo of the wound and share it with your vet. Assess the wound, paying particular attention to swelling, drainage, and degree of lameness.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may choose to repair wounds in this area, or leave them to heal as open wounds. Factors they may consider include your desire for the most cosmetic outcome, the freshness of the wound and the structures that are involved.

What Not To Do

Do not apply any antibiotic products to the injury, unless advised to do so by your vet. Do not treat wounds that are causing lameness without examination by a vet.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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