Horses are most prone to urinary problems when their diets are in some way deficient. If they do not ingest enough acid, for example, the blood (and therefore the urine) becomes too alkaline, which results in kidney stones. Horses can also develop urinary tract infections and other problems if they don't get enough to drink, which is most likely to happen during the winter when they aren't sweating as much. Fortunately, most urinary problems in horses are easily diagnosed and treated, with urinalysis being the most commonly used diagnostic tool.
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According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, urinary strictures, caused by urolithiasis, can be extremely painful for horses, and may cause bleeding in the urethra and urinary obstruction. It is more common in stallions and geldings than in mares, and may require surgery for removal. In some cases, urinary strictures can be caused by a build-up of scar tissue from previous surgeries.
Urinary Tract Infection
Many urinary problems in horses can be traced back to a urinary tract infection. This is a bacterial infection in the bladder, urethra and/or kidneys, and is usually treated with antibiotics. Horses with UTIs may have blood in their urine and run a fever, and a urinalysis is required for diagnosis.
Urinary or kidney stones in horses are extremely painful, and are often caused by an alkaline diet. Giving horses too many electrolytes during the summer months can also lead to kidney stones. Small stones are passed naturally through the urethra, while larger stones must be surgically removed.
Some urinary problems in horses are birth defects, and are typically observed during the horse's first few days of life. Such defects can compromise the entire equine urinary system, and even prevent urination altogether. Other conditions, such as an underdeveloped bladder, can result in increased urination.
Overactive or Underactive Bladder
Urinary problems in horses are not always easily identified. A horse that suffers from an overactive or underactive bladder may not have any inherent defects, but tumours and cysts can impact urination frequency. If there is any concern at all, the owner of the horse should contact a veterinarian.
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