My horse’s urine looks red or orange in the snow,
is it bloody?
This is a really common question
that we hear every year during winter in the Midwest! People
usually notice red, orange or brown spots in the snow and ice
where their horses have urinated. Normal
horse urine can change color after standing for a while. This
is due to the presence of plant metabolites (pyrocatechines)
in the urine that change color when mixed with oxygen. When
they oxidize they turn a red or orange color. It can happen
year round (the same process can turn stall shavings red), but
is especially obvious against the white snow!
Normal horse urine appears colorless,
yellow or even cloudy yellow as it is voided. The color and cloudiness change as the
bladder is fully emptied. If the urine appears a red, brown
or orange color as it is being passed that can indicate a significant
problem. Things that change the color of the urine before
it is passed include blood, the breakdown of blood cells and
the breakdown of muscle cells.
If you notice your horse urinating an abnormal color, call for an exam right
away! If your horse is passing yellow urine that is turning red in the
snow, you can breathe easy – that is normal!