A closer look: Increased Thirst in Horses
Polydipsia is common in horses and is typically not a symptom of a life-threatening condition. Most of the time excessive water intake due to boredom or environmental causes.
In some cases, it can be an indicator of serious kidney disease or other underlying diseases and therefore still warrants a veterinary medical examination. Emergency medical care is required if signs of colic are also present.
Boredom is the most common cause of excessive thirst in horses. Horses often develop “stall vices” when their routine is too sedentary. Drinking too much is among the most common vices.
All horses are at risk of polydipsia if they do not have enough mental stimulation. Polydipsia as a medical symptom is expected to be accompanied by other symptoms. The presence of associated symptoms such as fever, weight loss, or lethargy might indicate a more severe condition.
Testing and diagnosis
The main goal of the diagnostic process is to rule out other possible causes leaving psychogenic polydipsia as the final diagnosis.
- A complete physical examination
- Diagnostic imaging (usually ultrasound to assess the kidneys)
Treatment varies depending on the underlying condition. Usually, considering psychogenic causes to be the most common condition, treatment involves a change in daily routine and dietary management. Horses might respond well to a new companion, a different exercise routine, spending less time in the stall, or new toys. Other conditions might require medications or even surgery.
It is normal for a horse to drink more than the average amount of water under specific circumstances such as particularly hot weather, pregnancy, or after exercise.