What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Urine appears Red or Orange on Snow


"Urinating red" is a common complaint during snowy weather, but taken alone with no other sign of illness, it should not raise concern. Depending on the plant pigments ingested, normal equine urine stains snow or ice a surprising red, orange of brownish color. The color results from oxidation of plant pigments contained within the urine, when they are exposed to air under cold conditions.

  • 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.

your role


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 and discuss the situation.

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 Not To Do

Do not panic! This looks bad but is a very common occurrence in normal horses.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • How does this horse's urine color on the snow compare to that of the others?
  • Is this horse fed differently than your other horses?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP