VET’S DIARY: Wound treatment not such a sweet solution

In the equine department, we have seen an increase in the number of wounds and injuries over the last few weeks, writes Edward Chinn.

Longer nights and less grass in the field results in some horses becoming bored and spending more time standing around the gate waiting for feed time. This can lead to a kick or a leg caught in a gate as they are bustling for the best position.

It was perfect timing to have an evening lecture from an equine specialist updating local vets on the latest in equine wound management.

Patrick Pollock, from Glasgow University, had some fascinating research into the latest dressings available. His department has been conducting research into the types of protein found in equine wounds and how these compare in healthy, healing wounds compared to non-healing wounds. This exciting, ground-breaking research has produced a scientific method to monitor whether a topical treatment or dressing is genuinely aiding wound healing or hindering it.

This is more difficult to monitor than you might imagine as the body will do all it can to heal a wound even in an adverse healing environment. Often wounds would be far better simply flushed with water from a hosepipe or saline solution rather than being hindered by products such as ‘wound powder’ or ‘purple spray’. It would be very interesting to use this new procedure to evaluate the claims of the many ‘miracle cures’ for healing wounds found on an internet search!

Patrick has also been conducting research into the use of honey on wounds.

The use of honey as a topical treatment for wounds has been well publicised but will any honey from the supermarket do? It is quite alarming the range and quantity of bacteria which he cultured from honey obtained from food outlets.

He seriously questions if you would want to put them on your toast, let alone on a wound. So you do need to use sterile medical-grade honey.

Manuka honey is honey made from the nectar of the manuka tree found in New Zealand and Australia.

Manuka honey from supermarkets may only contain a small amount of manuka honey blended with other honeys and is not sterile. It should be noted that pure Scottish heather honey had similar antibacterial properties to manuka honey. The Kiwis always have been very good at marketing!

It is also proposed that honey is considerably more useful in the initial stages of healing and not later on.

Another exciting line of research has suggested that the amnion section of the placenta may well be the finest bandage there is. Who knows what we will be using in years to come!

In the second part of the evening Jim Ferrie, Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, discussed advances in shoeing the performance horse. One of his tips was the use of a smart phone to video a horse’s foot striking the ground in slow motion. This has proved very successful for demonstrating to owners how their horses place their feet.

Getting into the seasonal spirit, we have a festive photo competition for our equine friends on Facebook.

Like our page alnorthumbriaequinevets and upload your entry to be in with a chance to win a comprehensive equine first aid kit.

Finally we would like to wish you a Happy Christmas and prosperous New Year from everyone at Alnorthumbria Vets.