How to tell if your horse has a bladder infection

Updated December 15, 2016

An equine bladder infection is the inflammation of the urinary system in a horse. Unlike humans, bladder infections in horses are rare. They most often occur in female horses than male horses because a mare's urethra is so much shorter than a male horse's. An equine bladder infection can range from a mild lower urinary tract infection to serious kidney inflammation. To find out if your horse has a bladder infection, start with recognising the bladder infection symptoms and then ask your vet for help.

Recognise the bladder infection symptoms in your horse. Your horse may appear to urinate more frequently than usual, in small increments as opposed to emptying the bladder completely. Your horse may also appear uncomfortable when they urinate or show signs of pain. Some horses even have blood in their urine.

Talk to your vet about your horse's symptoms. The vet will examine your horse and take a urine sample. Unlike a human, you cannot just ask a horse to pee in a cup. Instead, the vet will use a catheter to draw urine directly from the horse's bladder. The urine sample will be tested for the presence of bacteria, a sign of a urinary infection.

If the vet finds bacteria in the urine, he will have it cultured. Culturing bacteria consists of placing the bacteria on a dish full of food and allowing it to grow. This allows the bacteria to be identified and the vet to choose the antibiotic best suited to combat that bacteria.


Treating an equine bladder infection is just the first step. An equine bladder infection is often a sign of another health problem, such as bladder paralysis or poisoning.

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About the Author

Michaele Curtis began writing professionally in 2001. As a freelance writer for the Centers for Disease Control, Nationwide Insurance and AT&T Interactive, her work has appeared in "Insurance Today," "Mobiles and PDAs" and "Curve Magazine." Curtis holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Louisiana State University.