Urine Scalding in Horses Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Urine Scalding in Horses: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

by | Jun 30, 2023 | Equine Health, Equine Treatment

Horses, our steadfast companions, have shared life’s journey with us for centuries. They serve us not just as beasts of burden, but as friends, therapy animals, and athletic partners. Part of the bond we share with these majestic animals is rooted in our responsibility for their wellbeing. One prevalent, yet often overlooked, issue that affects horses’ health is urine scalding. This condition can be painful and, if not properly treated, lead to more severe health complications.

Urine scalding occurs when a horse’s skin is in prolonged contact with urine, causing irritation and, in some cases, leading to painful sores. It’s not a condition we would wish upon any horse, as it leads to discomfort and unease. However, with an understanding of its causes, symptoms, and treatment options, we can take active measures to prevent and treat it.

Causes of Urine Scalding in Horses

As conscientious horse owners, understanding the causes of urine scalding can equip us with the necessary knowledge to take preventive measures. Horses are robust animals, however, certain conditions can make them susceptible to urine scalding.

A common cause of urine scalding is urinary incontinence. In some instances, horses may lose control over their bladder function due to aging, injury, or certain health conditions. When urine leaks persistently, it can cause the skin in the affected area to become damp, leading to irritation and scalding.

Lack of adequate hygiene can also result in urine scalding. Horses standing or lying in a stall with excess urine are at risk. A horse’s skin should ideally be dry and clean; prolonged exposure to urine breaks down the natural protective barrier of the skin, making it susceptible to irritation and infection.

Health conditions such as bladder infections, urinary tract stones, and even certain types of medication can lead to a higher risk of urine scalding. These conditions often cause frequent urination or incontinence, leading to prolonged exposure of the skin to urine.

Age-related problems shouldn’t be discounted either. Elderly horses, or those with mobility issues, are often unable to position themselves correctly while urinating, leading to urine splashing on their legs and belly, causing scalding over time.

In managing these causes, it’s crucial to consider using products like the Weaver Leather Horse Diaper. These diapers are designed to absorb urine in horses suffering from incontinence, providing a preventative solution to urine scalding.

Additionally, the importance of a clean, dry stall can’t be overstated. Utilize a high-quality, super-absorbent bedding like Jumbo Hemp Bedding. This product not only helps absorb urine quickly, reducing the possibility of skin contact, but it’s also easy to muck out, ensuring that your horse’s stall can be kept clean with less effort.

Symptoms of Urine Scalding

Spotting the symptoms of urine scalding early is crucial in preventing further distress for your horse. While these symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the condition, there are some telltale signs that are more common than others.

The first noticeable symptom is often redness in the area exposed to urine. This may start as a mild pinkish hue and can progress to a more alarming bright red as the scalding worsens. Additionally, the affected skin may become swollen and warmer than the surrounding skin due to inflammation.

The skin may also become itchy, leading to discomfort for the horse. You may notice your horse frequently rubbing the affected area against objects, or attempting to scratch it with their mouth or a hind foot. This can cause further injury and make the scalding worse.

Changes in behavior can also indicate discomfort. Your horse may seem more restless than usual, exhibit unusual aggression, or have changes in eating habits due to the discomfort. Keep a close eye on your horse’s demeanor; any unusual behavior is worth investigating.

In severe cases of urine scalding, the skin might break and form painful sores, making the area more prone to secondary bacterial infections. This is where early detection and treatment becomes crucial.

For monitoring these symptoms, consider investing in a Digital Thermometer. It’s a non-invasive tool that allows you to monitor the skin temperature of the affected areas and helps in early detection of inflammation.

It’s also useful to have a Vet’s Best Horse Comfort System at hand. The system includes a high-quality Protected Equine SOA-ITCH Be Gone, a topical cream that can provide relief from itching and discomfort, and a specialized horse blanket that can prevent the horse from scratching the affected area.
The symptoms outlined above should serve as red flags, but only a trained vet can provide an accurate diagnosis.

How Urine Scalding is Diagnosed

The diagnosis of urine scalding in horses involves a thorough examination by a vet, who will also take into account the horse’s medical history and current symptoms. The vet will conduct a physical examination of the horse’s skin, paying particular attention to the areas where urine is likely to come into contact.

The vet may also perform additional diagnostic tests to rule out other health issues that might be causing similar symptoms, such as dermatitis or infections. A sample of the affected skin may be taken for culture to check for any secondary bacterial infection. Moreover, the vet might consider a urinalysis to evaluate the horse’s urine for signs of abnormalities that could be contributing to the scalding, such as high acidity or the presence of bacteria.

It is crucial to involve your vet as soon as you notice the symptoms mentioned above. Time is of the essence to prevent the condition from worsening. To make the vet’s work easier and speed up the diagnosis, consider maintaining a detailed log of your horse’s health. A Horse Health Record Book is a handy tool that helps you track the horse’s health and behavior changes, feeding routines, and any noticeable changes in urine or stool. This information can be invaluable when it comes to detecting health issues and will provide your vet with a more comprehensive picture.

Treatment Options for Urine Scalding

Urine scalding, while unpleasant, can certainly be managed with the right treatment plan. The goal of any treatment is twofold: to alleviate discomfort and pain, and to promote healing of the affected areas.

To begin with, immediate measures can be taken to relieve your horse’s discomfort. Gentle washing with a mild, hypoallergenic soap like Protected Equine SOA-ITCH Be Gone is recommended to cleanse the area and remove any residual urine. Remember, your horse’s skin is already irritated, and a mild soap will clean without further irritation.

A soothing cream or lotion should be applied to the affected area to moisturize and protect the skin. Consider a product like Equiderma Skin Lotion, which is formulated to soothe discomfort and itching, and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties to help prevent secondary infections. In severe cases or if secondary bacterial infection is identified, your vet might prescribe a course of antibiotics. Always follow your vet’s guidance in terms of medication.

For cases related to incontinence or urinary issues, treating the underlying cause is of utmost importance. If a horse is having trouble fully emptying their bladder, a vet may recommend a diuretic to help encourage urine production and flow.

Beyond medications, ensuring good hygiene is paramount in both treatment and prevention. Bedding should be kept as clean and dry as possible. Opt for highly absorbent bedding, such as Jumbo Hemp Bedding, which can absorb up to four times their weight in liquid, keeping your horse’s environment drier and cleaner.

Remember, treatment for urine scalding is not a one-time solution but an ongoing process to keep the horse comfortable and free from further incidents.

Prevention of Urine Scalding

To prevent urine scalding from reoccurring or occurring at all, vigilance and proper care are your strongest weapons. The following strategies should be part of your daily routine.

First and foremost, regular cleaning of the horse’s living and resting spaces is crucial. The sooner urine-soaked bedding is removed, the less chance there is for urine to come into contact with your horse’s skin. Switching to an absorbent bedding, like Jumbo Hemp Bedding which we mentioned earlier, can help immensely in keeping the horse’s environment dry.

Another essential preventive measure is ensuring the horse is always dry. A good quality, highly absorbent towel, such as the Microfiber Bath Towel, is handy for drying off any wetness on your horse’s skin after urination or even bathing. This towel is super absorbent and quick-drying, and its microfiber material is soft, preventing further irritation to your horse’s skin.

On the grooming front, consider using Equiderma Skin Lotion as a part of your regular grooming routine. It not only soothes and repairs skin but can also form a protective barrier, shielding the skin from urine and moisture.

Regular veterinary check-ups are a must to ensure that your horse is in good health. If your horse has a history of incontinence or urinary issues, monitoring by a vet is even more crucial to prevent scalding.

In addition to these steps, observing your horse’s behavior closely for signs of discomfort or distress can help you catch and address any potential issues early, making it easier to treat and prevent urine scalding.


Urine scalding is a condition that’s as unpleasant as it sounds. It can cause your horse great discomfort, and if left untreated, lead to more serious complications. Understanding what it is, its causes and symptoms, and the ways to treat and prevent it, can help ensure your horse remains happy, healthy, and comfortable.
Early detection is vital, so remember to pay close attention to any changes in your horse’s behavior or appearance. Always consult a professional vet if you suspect your horse is showing signs of urine scalding. They will provide accurate diagnosis and a suitable treatment plan for your horse’s condition.
Ensuring your horse’s living environment is clean and dry, coupled with good hygiene practices, will go a long way in keeping urine scalding at bay. Take these precautions seriously and remember: your horse relies on you for its well-being.
In the end, we’re all here for the love of these magnificent creatures, so let’s do our best to keep them in the best of health!

About The Author

<a href="https://www.equiniction.com/author/issabella-m/" target="_self">Issabella Mitchel</a>

Issabella Mitchel

Isabella is a remarkable equestrian and racehorse trainer, hailing from the horse capital of the world, Kentucky. Growing up in the heart of bluegrass country, she developed a deep affinity for horses from an early age.

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