Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Wound to Lower Neck

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 there is excessive bleeding.
  • If you wish to have the best functional and cosmetic outcome, no matter the cost.
  • If the wound occurred within the last 24 hours.

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

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
  • If the wound occurred over 24 hours ago.

Wounds to the neck can range from minor to fatal. The severity relates to the structures involved. In the lower third of the neck is the jugular groove, through which runs the jugular vein, carotid artery and some very important nerves. At the underline of the neck is the windpipe (trachea) and esophagus. If any of these critical structures are involved in a wound, it could be life-threatening.

The spinal column runs parallel to and just above this, and right under the mane is the nuchal ligament, a large ligament that is involved in supporting the head.

WHAT TO DO

If the wound is superficial, isn’t bleeding much, and does not appear to affect your horse’s stance or movement, you may be able to treat it on your own.

In contrast, a large wound to the jugular groove may sever large vessels and cause life-threatening bleeding. The involvement of important structures affect the prognosis. Certain wounds may benefit from surgical repair and, generally, there is a 24-hour window of time in which that is an option.

If you have any doubt about the severity of the wound, contact your vet with your findings and concerns. If there is significant bleeding from a neck wound, apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding until your vet arrives.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will evaluate the injury and determine whether repair (suturing), is needed. If vital structures are involved, other specific diagnostics and treatments may be necessary.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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