Urinalysis for Pets

Your pet can’t tell you exactly what hurts. To figure it out, your vet may order tests such as a urinalysis.

What Is a Urinalysis?

A urinalysis is a routine lab test that reports on the physical and chemical properties of your pet’s urine. It’s usually used to assess how healthy your pet’s kidneys and urinary system are, but can reveal problems with other organ systems.

Urinalysis may be a routine part of your pet’s animal wellness exams, or it may be ordered if you suspect that your pet’s health isn’t that great.

How Is Urine Collected?

There are three main ways to collect urine from dogs and cats:

  • Cystocentesis: Urine is collected from the bladder with a sterile needle and syringe. The needle is passed through your pet’s abdominal wall into a full bladder. This method is preferred in some cases, as urine isn’t contaminated by any debris from the lower urinary passage, and is ideal for detecting bacterial infection. However, cystocentesis is more invasive than other collection methods, is only useful if your pet’s bladder is full, and is difficult to do in uncooperative patients.
  • Catheterization: With this method, a very narrow sterile catheter is passed up your pet’s urethra into their bladder. A sterile syringe is then attached to the catheter and urine is withdrawn. This method is less invasive than cystocentesis and is a good option for uncooperative patients. Catheterization does cause a mild irritation to the urethra and may carry bacteria from the urethra into the bladder.
  • Midstream free flow: As your pet urinates, a sample is collected into a sterile container, ideally midstream (partway through urination). This method is completely non-invasive, and you can collect a sample at home. However, this type of sample may be difficult to collect, and the sample is more likely to be contaminated.

How Is Urinalysis Performed?

A urinalysis includes four parts:

  1. The color and turbidity (cloudiness) is assessed.
  2. The concentration (density) of the urine is measured.
  3. The pH (acidity) is measured and the chemical composition of the urine is analyzed.
  4. Cells and solid material present in the urine are examined with a microscope.

Most of the analysis is done with the whole urine, as it comes from your pet, but urine must be concentrated or sedimented for the microscopic examination of cells and solid material. To do this, a sample of your pet’s urine is placed in a tube and then centrifuged to force cells and solid material to settle at the bottom.

What Substances Are Detected By the Chemical Analysis of Urine?

Your vet looks for a variety of substances that can determine whether or not your pet has a disease. Some of these include:

  • Protein: A small amount of protein in your pet’s urine isn’t cause for concern, but too much can be a sign of developing kidney disease. 
  • Glucose: In healthy cats and dogs, glucose shouldn’t be present. Large amounts of glucose in a pet’s urine usually means the pet has diabetes. Small amounts of glucose could also indicate kidney disease.
  • Ketones: When your pet’s body breaks down excessive amounts of stored fat, ketones will appear in their urine. This usually indicates diabetes, but also can be found in healthy animals during prolonged fasting or starvation.
  • Blood: Blood in the urine usually means your pet is experiencing bleeding somewhere in their urinary system. Sometimes this is the result of how the sample was collected. It also can be associated with diseases such as a bacterial infection, bladder stones, trauma, or cancer.
  • Urobilinogen: Urobilinogen in the urine usually indicates the bile duct is open, allowing bile to flow from the gallbladder to the intestine. 
  • Bilirubin: Bilirubin is produced in the liver and usually excreted in the bile. It is not found in the urine of healthy cats but may be found in the urine of healthy dogs in small quantities. Abnormal amounts of bilirubin in the urine, however, is often associated with liver disease or red blood cell destruction.

Why Is the Urine Sediment Examined?

Examining the urine sediment can help uncover many hidden issues in your pet. Most often, red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals, bacteria, and tissue cells are found. 

Urinalysis for Pets

At Old Farm Veterinary Hospital, we do everything we can to make sure your pet is healthy. And, if they aren’t, we explore all possible avenues of disease. Our on-site diagnostic testing can collect and analyze your pet’s urine sample, giving you quick results and peace of mind. Schedule your appointment today!