The Importance of urine pHpH strips

We have observed that there is a correlation between the horse’s urine pH and his overall health and behaviour.


The horses with the best health and (calm) behaviour have a pH the same as ours - around 7.


The pH scale goes from 0 – extremely acidic to 14 – extremely alkaline. Neutral is 7.


All the metabolic processes can only function properly when this internal pH is EXACTLY 7.365

 

Overview

Your horse’s urine pH is indicative of his blood and body fluid pH.
The trouble is, everybody only associates horses with acidosis (as in Hind Gut Acidosis ) meaning that the system is too acidic from eating high carbohydrate/sugar diets, yet the symptoms most horses exhibit and the urine pH of these horses indicate the exact opposite – alkalosis.

In our experience, horses with the following issues tend to have a urine pH over 8
1. Head flicking
2. ‘Up There’
3. Twitchy
4. Over-Reactive and seriously spooky
5. Tight Behind
6. High Headed

So should we be worried about the horse’s urine pH?
You bet ya boots we should.

Old grass
This older grass that the horses in the photo are grazing is less likely to cause a high urine pH.

Using the Litmus Strip

Carry it around with you

Carry the pH booklet with you at all times when you visit your horses.

Run for the puddle!

When you happen to see your horse urinate, tear off a strip and dip it into the puddle – pressing it into the wet grass will work too. HINT Do not try to get it mid-stream as this will cause them to shut off!

Compare the colour

Compare the colour with those on the inside cover of the booklet – the bluer the colour the higher the pH of the urine indicating the horse is too alkaline. The yellower the colour, the lower the pH indicating that the horse is too acidic. Ideally it should be close to 7.

Test his drinking water

Also, out of interest,  test the horses drinking water – as it is intriguing that we have observed that horses drinking acidic water, are still having alkaline urine


pH Strips
pH strip booklet

A small booklet of Litmus paper strips with comparison colours to read pH can be obtained from a chemist

What to do:

If the urine pH is over 8 then some adjustments to the diet are required. It is best to look at the whole diet. It comes down to reducing the potassium and nitrogen load on the horse’s system.

  1. Drastically reducing green grass intake and upping the hay’ If this is a problem then steps 2 and 3  are more important
  2. Checking to see if there is much clover in the paddock. Making sure there is no lucerne, soy-bean meal, kelp, or added potassium in feeds you are currently feeding. This means checking the back of the bag, looking down the list and seeing if there is potassium added.
  3. Then make sure you are adding salt to the feeds and if it is still too high then up the Graze Ezy as this is what it is designed for, it contains multiple ‘buffers’ which help the pH come down and you will find that they return to normal.

If the urine is lower than 6 ie too acidic (in the minority when grazing our cool season grasses here in NZ) then the horse is liable to be dull, lethargic, nappy, and have ‘no go’. However the addition of salt to their feeds usually reverses this quite quickly.