A closer look: Increased Urination in Horses
Both polyuria and polydipsia are common in horses. Usually, increased urination is not a life-threatening symptom. It is important to determine the cause as soon as possible, especially when other symptoms are present such as decreased appetite and weight loss, or changes in the scent and color of urine.
Increased urination can also coincide with colic. Colic often appears with other symptoms such as abdominal pain, restlessness, lip curling, and rapid breathing and is an emergency. Red urine might also indicate an emergency and can be present in horses with increased urination.
The volume and the frequency of urination can vary and might be an indicator of the severity of the underlying condition. The color of the urine can also vary and be an indicator of the underlying condition. With chronic kidney disease, the kidneys are no longer able to produce concentrated urine, which has a deep yellow color. Poorly concentrated urine looks like water and might be an indicator of kidney dysfunction.
Red urine is also a concerning sign as it is associated with more serious conditions such as urinary stones, urinary tract infections, severe muscle damage, and life-threatening cancer.
The presence of other symptoms might be an indicator of a more serious condition.
For example, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, restlessness, and lip curling are some of the associated symptoms of colic; and weight loss, loss of appetite, and changes in smell or color of the urine are associated with chronic kidney disease.
Testing and diagnosis
As one of the most common causes of increased urination is an excessive amount of water intake due to boredom, or psychogenic polydipsia, the diagnostic process begins by ruling out other diseases.
Diagnostics involve bloodwork and urinalysis. Other tests, such as diagnostic imaging of the bladder and the kidneys might be necessary.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. In most cases, polyuria is due to external causes such as drinking too much water, diet, boredom, or other environmental reasons. A dietary change is often recommended, as well as a change in lifestyle. More severe conditions, such as metabolic horse syndrome or kidney failure, might require dialysis, medications, or lifelong monitoring.
When in heat, mares usually urinate more frequently. Polydipsia (increased thirst) leads to horses drinking excessive amounts of water and as a consequence expelling more urine than normal.