57% of horse owners keep bute in first aid box, new survey shows

A recent survey by Vita Animal Health has found that most horse owners have a first aid box, with the majority containing Phenylbutazone (Bute) – a POM-V drug. However, only 7% of horse owners seek advice from a vet for minor wounds, and over a quarter would not contact the vet even if their horse was lame. This raises concerns about the appropriate use of bute in wounded horses. These findings suggest that veterinary practices should be actively looking to provide first aid training to horse owners covering basic wound management and when to seek veterinary advice.

The survey, posted on social media groups for horse owners, showed they were most likely to call out a vet if their horse had a deep wound (96% of respondents). Surprisingly, just a third of horse owners will seek veterinary advice for a wound that is bleeding.

Vita Head of Sales, Tara Evans RVN, says “It is great to see that owners are equipped with a first aid box for their horses. However, our survey highlights that many are not seeking veterinary advice, even if their horse is lame. This raises concerns over horses receiving appropriate treatment in a timely manner. There is an opportunity for practices to review first aid boxes with owners to ensure they’re stocking appropriate supplies, and discuss appropriate wound management.”

The most common treatment option by horse owners for minor wounds is a cream or ointment with 71% applying these and 84% keeping a topical treatment in their first aid box. A wide variety of topical treatments are used. Some of these products were barrier creams that do not provide an antiseptic environment. The most important factors in choosing a topical treatment were ease of use, versatility and price point. Vita says Omnimatrix skin cream is a good option for horse owners, as it supports the skin’s natural healing at all stages of the wound healing process. It has natural antiseptic properties and does not interfere with concurrent treatments. The cream is veterinary exclusive, encouraging dialogue around wound management between the vet and horse owner.

Vita Animal Health have created an owner guide for wound management in horses. Veterinary professionals can download it here to give to clients: https://www.vita-europe.com/animalhealth/news/wound-healing-in-horses/