Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Sabulous Cystitis, Urolithiasis


Bladder emptying depends on the proper functioning of the muscular bladder wall, which contracts down with urination. When a horse cannot empty their bladder for an extended period of time, the stretch on the bladder wall damages the bladder.

Sabulous cystitis is inflammation of the bladder characterized by the accumulation of a thick layer of calcium carbonate sludge at the bottom of the bladder. The presence of this sludge is an indicator of underlying bladder wall muscular dysfunction that is usually caused by nerve damage, which can happen from physical trauma or neurologic disease. The presence of the sludge itself also contributes to the problem by causing inflammation and preventing complete evacuation.

Temporarily, the sludge can be removed using bladder catheterization and flushing. There are a variety of variations on how this is done, but the idea is to remove as much of the sludge as possible until bladder function returns. Long-term successful treatment depends on identifying and treating the underlying condition.

my role

Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • What is the underlying condition that caused my horse to develop this problem?
  • After flushing the sludge out, how can this problem be managed long-term?
  • Is there anything I can do to reduce the calcium carbonate intake in my horse's diet?

Rapid diagnosis and treatment of neurologic bladder dysfunction may prevent the development of this secondary complication.

Related References:

Rendle DI, Durham AE, Hughes KJ, et. al. Long-term management of sabulous cystitis in five horses. Vet Rec 2008 June 14:162(24): 783-7.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP