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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

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 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Horse with urinary problems


I have a 10 year old Oldenburg mare (imported from Germany 2 years ago) that is not urinating properly. She went 3 days without urinating and in this time drank 35 gallons of water (we know because she was kept inside during this time in a stall with mats and clean white shavings). I have had my regular vet out as well as taking her to a urology specialist at the University. Even after endoscope nothing has come up. Kidneys, bladder, urethra, sphincters, vagina, liver, CBC, temperature, pulse all came back normal. She was/is slightly jaundiced in her gums. She has been on 2 rounds of Tribrissin and SMZs. I feed (pretty much free choice) Purina Equine Adult and alfalfa cubes and they have access to a mineral block and fresh water at all times. She is turned out 24/7 right now.

Is there anything nutrition-wise that I am doing wrong or could be doing better? I am really at a loss and have exhausted all traditional resources so I am beginning to look "outside the box". I plan to start Traditional Chinese Herbs next.

Thanks for your help!

Amanda J. Pennington
Caravel Sporthorses

Where are you from? Ohio

How did you locate this forum? referral from previous poster

Re: Horse with urinary problems

Hello Amanda,

My first reaction to this situation was the possibility of kidney stones, but you said that an endoscopic exam revealed no obstruction. And, if no improvement has occurred after the administration of antibiotics, it would indicate that there was no bacterial infection. Is there any possibility of a plant toxicity? Some plants, such as Red Maple, can induce temporary kidney failure.

Let’s get back to the kidney stone situation...
There may be a small obstruction that she eventually passed. She may be developing a reduction in kidney function, which progresses very slowly. Horses excrete a large amount of calcium in their urine.
As a result, calcium oxalate stones can occur. From this perspective, it is important to reduce the amount of calcium, protein, and phosphorus in the diet. Good quality grass hay and complete pelleted rations formulated for adult (but not senior) horses are best.

For this reason, it is important to avoid legumes (alfalfa and clover), wheat bran and beet pulp because these are high calcium (legumes, beet pulp) and phosphorus (wheat bran).

You mentioned that she is jaundiced. Jaundice is a sign of liver dysfunction. An affected horse needs to have reduced amounts of fat and protein in the diet.

So, bottom line:
Since we don’t really know what medical issue is in play here, let’s approach this problem from the perspective of liver and/or kidney problems:

1. Discontinue feeding the senior feed and alfalfa cubes

2. Instead, feed grass hay, free choice

3. Feed a complete pelleted feed, but not senior (since senior feeds are higher in calcium and phosphorus). Offer her 2 meals each day -- do not free feed.

4. Provide a B complex supplement such as B-Plex -- twice each day.

5. Provide a Vitamin C supplement – 8 grams, two times a day until symptoms subside.

6. Provide an iodized salt block. If the mineralized block contains calcium and phosphorus, replace it with a plain iodized salt block.

7. And, finally, you may want to add Colloidal Silver to her feed, just in case the antimicrobials that you gave her were not effective.

Thank you for writing. Please keep me posted on her progress.

All the best,

Dr. Getty