Red Urine

Dr. Steven M. Parish, W.S.U.

(Reprinted from Pygmy Goat WORLD magazine with permission)

If you notice a goat urinating red there are three general considerations. It may be blood, hemoglobin or myoglobin that is discoloring the urine. In order to determine which it is requires some laboratory examinations. You need to collect a urine sample and examine it under a microscope. Are there red blood cells present or not? If red cells are present, then you would expect bleeding to be present somewhere in the urogenital system. In females, you have to rule out the reproductive tract as the source of blood. Has she recently freshened or recently bred? Is there a vaginal lesion? If you rule out the reproductive system, then the urinary system is suspect. Sources of urinary bleeding can be the urethra, bladder or kidney. If the red urine is only at the start of urination, then suspect the lesion to be in the urethra. If red urine is present throughout urination then there may be either a kidney or bladder problem. Causes of bleeding into the urinary system are wide and varied. How long the bleeding has occurred, for example, can help rule in or out acute or chronic problems. Urethral causes of bleeding can include calculi, trauma, urethral infection and tumors. Bladder causes of bleeding can include coagulation problems, tumors, calculi or cystitis. Kidney bleeding can be associated with infection, trauma, calculi and vascular diseases. Many different diagnostic techniques may be necessary to diagnose each of these problems.

Another common cause of red urine is hemoglobin (blood pigment) in the urine. In this case, the red blood cells are being destroyed while circulating and the hemoglobin is released into the circulation. In turn, the hemoglobin is filtered by the kidneys and is excreted into the urine. In this case, there will not be any red blood cells when the urine is examined. Causes could include certain toxic agents such as copper toxicity or onion toxicity.

The third cause of discolored urine can be because of the presence of muscle pigments in the urine. Muscle break down from trauma or toxicity could be causes.

Independent of these causes of red urine, when animals urinate on snow, it often appears to have a red tint. However, this is a false impression due to the white background and light reflection. Also, on rare occasion, certain drugs or medicines can cause the urine to appear darker or red. Red urine during winter months can also be due to drinking cold water rapidly. The red blood cells may break, creating darker urine.

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