Bloody Snow Most Likely Not What You Think

Many horse owners have walked into snow-covered fields and been startled to find what looks like blood in areas where horses urinate. When the health of the turned out horses is assessed, however, everyone seems fine.

Though a call to the vet may be tempting, red-colored urine in the snow isn’t unusual—it’s a chemical reaction that occurs when urine hits cold snow: Proteins in the urine oxidize in low temperatures. This can cause a range of colors, from light pink to red, brown and orange. The same reaction takes place when a urine sample is left unrefrigerated.

If a horse’s health is still in question, it’s worthwhile to collect a urine sample to see if it’s bloody as it is excreted before it hits the snow. This can be done by taping a large can to a stick and waiting patiently until a horse urinates, and catching some of his stream. If it’s not red, the horse is most likely just fine.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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