Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Manure is Black or Very Dark

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

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

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

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Very dark manure may result from dietary factors such as poor nutrition. Importantly, it can also be indicative of bleeding into the upper gastrointestinal tract due to ulcers or other causes.

Keep in mind that manure changes appearance as it dries, becoming darker over time. So this observation may also be normal. If manure is very dry and hard when first produced, it may be indicative of dehydration.

WHAT TO DO

If you notice that your horse’s manure is abnormally dark, that is a good starting point for additional observations.

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Pay particular attention to heart rate, general attitude, and appetite. Also assess gum color and capillary refill time. Compare the manure to that of the other horses under your care and, if possible, compare it to manure this particular horse has previously passed.

Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet may recommend that you save a sample of the manure for them to evaluate. In this instance, put a fecal ball or two in a ziploc bag, squeeze out the air, and put it in the refrigerator (for now) so that you can submit to your vet for evaluation.

The concern here is that there is blood in the manure causing it to appear darker than normal. With diagnostic tests, your vet can determine whether or not this is the case.

If there is black blood in the manure, it suggests that there is bleeding into the upper gastrointestinal tract (stomach or small intestine). Gastroscopy is a commonly used diagnostic to examine this region of the intestine. Blood tests can help determine whether the horse has lost significant blood or not.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending