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


Incontinence, Urine Dribbling or Dripping


Several different bladder and urethral reflexes are required for normal urination. These reflexes requires normal neurologic function and normal functioning of the muscular wall of the bladder and urethra. The nerves that supply the bladder come off of the spinal cord far to the rear of the animal around the peak of the croup. If this nerve supply is damaged, the ability to urinate normally, and normal continence can be compromised.

There are transient reasons why neurologic dysfunction might exist such as recovery from anesthesia. Horses that are weak or ill from other causes often have a very weak urine stream and may dribble urine. Beyond this, there are a variety of conditions associated with this observation that either involve compromised neurologic function or blockage of urine flow.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business 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 Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • 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. Look for signs like wobbliness or unsteadiness. Try to collect a urine sample in a cup, and assess the color and amount of urine produced. Promptly provide this to your vet for analysis. Most underlying causes require prompt attention, so immediately share your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet assesses general health, general neurologic function, the urine, the urethra and the bladder. Rectal palpation and ultrasound are helpful diagnostics to evaluate the bladder. Bladder catheterization is often performed. It is a different procedure, and uses different instruments for male versus female horses.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Are other horses on the premise acting sick?
  • Has the horse (or any other horses in contact with this one) been exposed to other horses from off p
  • What is the horse's vaccination status?
  • What vaccines (brands, types) were given, and when?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • What is the appearance of the horse's urine?
  • Is the horse straining or groaning during urination?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP