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Equine Health Resource

Urine appears Red or Orange on Snow

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

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

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

    Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

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

    Depending on the plant pigments ingested, normal equine urine can stain snow or ice a surprisingly red or orange color. “Urinating red” is a common complaint during snowy weather, but taken alone with no other sign of illness, it should not raise concern. In most cases, this is considered a normal finding. The color results from oxidation of plant pigments contained within the urine when exposed to air.

    WHAT TO DO

    Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their attitude and appetite. Try to catch a urine sample before it hits the ground. If “free-caught” urine is red or if the horse is showing any other sign of illness, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

    In rare cases examination and urinalysis indicates that there actually is blood in the urine, which could be a sign of a more serious illness.

    WHAT YOUR VET DOES

    Your vet likely will not need to see your horse. If they do, they will evaluate general health, and will likely want to collect a urine sample to evaluate.

    What Not To Do

    Do not panic. If unaccompanied by other problems, this is usually a normal finding.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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