Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Drinking Excessively

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

    • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

    Generally, water consumption for a normal horse is about 1 gallon (4 liters) per 100 lbs (50kg) of body weight per day. Horses in hot or humid conditions, and horses in work or exercise may drink significantly more.

    Stabled, resting and otherwise healthy horses that drink far more than the average amount needed for proper hydration are likely engaged in excessive addictive drinking (psychogenic polydysia). This is a habitual behavior thought to result from boredom, confinement, or stress. It may be managed or resolved with management changes, such as increased turnout.

    However, excessive urination (with excessive drinking) can also be a sign of other diseases. Common conditions that cause excessive urination include Cushing’s Disease (PPID) and kidney failure. In most cases, horses with these conditions also show other signs of illness, especially loss of appetite, depression or weight loss.

    WHAT TO DO

    Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), look for other signs of illness or abnormalities and discuss your findings with your vet.

    You can help your vet by keeping track of the amount of water that your horse is drinking using buckets or water tanks rather than an automatic waterer. Your vet may also ask you to collect a urine sample for analysis.

    WHAT YOUR VET DOES

    Your vet’s exam may need to be complemented by blood lab work as part of a diagnostic workup. The goal of the exam is to rule out disease states, leaving the most likely diagnosis as psychogenic polydipsea.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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