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Is Your Horse’s Wound Infected? Here Are The Signs (And What To Do About It)

A brown haired woman feeds her chestnut colored horse from her open palm.

Accidents happen, and horses are absolutely no exception. Whether your horse got into a nasty tumble with one of their stablemates, or took a nasty fall during an event, or got scratched up on a trail ride, a wound is nothing to scoff at.

So when your horse has a wound you need to keep a careful eye on its healing process, especially when it concerns an infection. An infection in the wound is probably one of the worst things that can happen, it can make your horse sick and uncomfortable.

Luckily there are easy to prevent your horse from getting an infection, and surefire signs to spot if your horse gets one. From there on you can make a treatment plan with your veterinarian to get your horse back into top-notch shape.

Follow these steps when your horse has a wound, and prevent infection altogether.

  • Talk to your veterinarian first
  • Signs of infection
  • Steps for wound care
A man strokes the nose of a dark brown colored horse in a stall.
While you of course have your horse’s best interest in mind it’s always a better bet to ask your veterinarian before taking a course of action in a wound. 

Talk to your veterinarian first

This is kind of a no-brainer, but it can never be said too many times. Before you do anything with the wound your horse gets, make sure to call your veterinarian over to check your horse out first.

Your vet will inspect the wound themselves and assess a further course of action depending on how the wound was acquired. Different wounds often require different treatments and some are worse than others.

If your horses’ wound came from a nasty bite that’s going to be more serious than a small scratch from a tree branch. Either way, your veterinarian knows best what you should be doing in terms of caring for it. 

Here’s a list of the most common injuries that could lead your horse to a wound infection. If your horse has one of these, call your vet right away.

  • Puncture wounds
  • Lacerations
  • Animal bites
  • Contusions
  • Scrapes and abrasions
A person in long flared blue pants rides a brown and white pinto horse.
There are some distinct things you should be looking out for in terms of infection.

Signs of infection

The last thing you want is for the wound to get infected, but it happens, and the best thing you can do then is to catch the infection early to prevent any more complicated health issues.

There are some more common signs of wound infection in horses and there are ones that are harder to spot. But if your horse is exhibiting two or three of these symptoms then it’s a good sign that the site has become infected.

Here are the most common signs and behaviors your horse will exhibit with an infected wound. 


If the area around your horse’s wound is unusually hot to the touch, or if you can ever feel the heat without having to put your hand on the skin it’s probably an infection. This inflammation is one of the tell-tale signs. 


So swelling is natural in most wounds, and a small bit of it shouldn’t be too concerning it’s part of the healing process, but if the swelling gets too large this could be a larger problem.

After the first few days of getting the injury swelling in the wound should naturally subside, but if the swelling seems to persist or gets worse then this is a sign of possible infection in the wound. 


Probably the hardest symptom on this list to miss are wound infections giving out a distinct odor that you should seek immediate medical attention for.

The odor has been described as pungent, strong, something unpleasant that smells like “wet” or “rotten” flesh. It shouldn’t be hard to miss on your horse. 


There are two ways to spot color in an infected wound. One is the color of the skin around the wound itself. If the skin is red or purpling then that’s an indication of an infection inside.

When looking for this try to look as closely as you can at the skin, this coloration can be hard to spot on darker-skinned horses. 

The second kind of color you should be looking at is in the discharge in your horse’s wound. Discharge is a natural part of the healing process, and if it’s clear or creamy then you have nothing to worry about. But if the color is yellow or green, and smelly, then this could be an infection.


If your horse is shying away from touch, especially in the area where the wound is located this could be an indication of infection. Pain in the area or the area around it can be a cause for concern.

An appaloosa horse grazes in a field.
Follow these steps for wound care and soon your horse will be as good as new.

Steps for wound care

Now that you’ve identified the infection in your horse’s wound, what should you be doing about it? Well in addition to any instructions that your veterinarian relayed to you, there are a couple of steps you should be following.

Flush the wound with water

This should be a step you take initially with your horse’s wound. Flushing out the wound with cold water will get rid of any of the initial debris and gunk that’s gathered around the opening.

Doing this will hopefully get rid of any outside debris that could cause further infection or complications in the wound and allow you a clearer view of the affected area. 

Apply an antiseptic 

This is a crucial step in getting out the infection in a wound, and prevention any further complications from occurring. An antiseptic will keep any viruses, bacteria, or microbes from getting into the wound and causing havoc.

Most of the time antiseptics are applied topically, so remember to use a gentle hand when using it on the wound. 

Apply a clean dressing as instructed

You shouldn’t apply a dressing to a wound first without checking with your vet, especially if the wound is a larger one. But with help, they can be an important part of the healing process for your horse.

Your vet can show you how to apply a dressing properly, but remember that for a dressing to work as it should it needs to be attached firmly to the area. If the dressing is loose it can fall off or things can get under it and cause more problems. 

Have an antibacterial and antimicrobial spray

Another medicinal product that you can use in addition to the antiseptic you’ll be using on the wound is an antibacterial or antimicrobial spray. 

They’re easy to use, with a no-hands application. All you have to do is spray over the affected area for an extra layer of protection for your horse. These products like FaunaCare’s silver spray add a little extra oomph for when your horse is ready to go outside again. 

A light brown horse with a white stripe on its face stands in an indoor stable.
Once you have all these bases covered your horse should be on the road to recovery.

An infection in a wound can be scary, especially for your horse who can’t verbalize to you what’s wrong. But try not to worry, if you keep your eyes peeled for these infection symptoms and collaborate with your veterinarian on a healing process, everything will be alright.

Most of these cuts and bruises don’t take too long to heal over, your horse will barely remember the whole process by the time everything is over, and hopefully, the thought will be far from your mind as well. 

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