Urine Testing 101
Updated: Apr 20
Urine Testing & Why Veterinarians Recommend it:
Urinalysis is a routine test that tests the physical and chemical properties of urine. It is used mainly to assess the health of the kidneys and urinary system, but it can also reveal problems in other organ systems, and is important for diagnosing metabolic disease such as diabetes mellitus. It is a valuable test in both healthy and sick animals and should be included in any comprehensive evaluation of a pet’s health.
Urine is collected one of three ways:
1. Free Catch: catching urine mid-stream while the pet is urinating
2. Cystocentesis: a sterile needle is passed through the bladder and collected
3. Catheterization: A very narrow sterile catheter is passed up the lower urinary passage (urethra) into the bladder.
The values we are checking when we analyze a urine sample are:
pH – Urine pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the urine is. The pH can change with diet, but can also signal the presence of infection or metabolic disease.
Protein – The presence of protein in urine is called proteinuria. Mild proteinuria in a concentrated urine may not be cause for concern, but proteinuria in dilute urine should be investigated since it may signal developing kidney disease. The significance of proteinuria is often determined by doing a second test called the protein-creatinine ratio.
Glucose (sugar): Glucose should not be present in the urine of healthy cats and dogs. The presence of large amounts of glucose usually indicates the pet has diabetes mellitus. Small amounts of glucose in the urine may also be found in pets with kidney disease.Sometimes urine feels sticky.
Ketones: Ketones appear in urine whenever the body breaks down excessive amounts of stored fat to meet its energy needs. This occurs most frequently in diabetes, but can also be found in healthy animals during prolonged fasting.
Blood: Blood in the urine usually indicates there is bleeding somewhere in the urinary system. Blood in the urine is associated with diseases such as bacterial infection, bladder stones, trauma, or cancer, so if blood in the urine does not appear to be due to the sampling method, further diagnostics are recommended. Keep in mind, sometimes when tests such as cystos, and catheters are placed, blood may be present in the urine sample.
Red Blood Cells: Small numbers of red blood cells are often found in urine collected by cystocentesis or catheterization, but large numbers of red blood cells usually indicate bleeding. This may be caused by conditions such as bladder stones, infection, trauma, cancer, & more.
White Blood Cells: An increased number of white blood cells indicates inflammation somewhere in the urinary system. Inflammation is often secondary to bacterial infection.
Bacteria: The presence of both bacteria and inflammatory cells in the sediment indicates there is likely bacterial infection somewhere in the urinary system.
Crystals: Crystals in the urine do not always indicate disease. Some crystals form when a pet is given certain types of medications. Crystals can also form in urine after it has been collected, especially if there is a long period of time before the urinalysis is done.
All of our lab work bundles include a complimentary urinalysis and we highly recommend bringing in a urine sample so we can analyze it. The ideal sample is collected when they first go outside to urinate in the morning. You can collect it by holding a tupperware container or ice cube tray under them and catching some of the urine mid-stream.
Urine does degrade over time so it’s vital that it’s brought into the hospital within 10 hours of collection. Urine samples can be stored in the refrigerator until you are able to bring them to the hospital.
If you have questions about your pet’s lab work or testing don’t hesitate to call so that our staff can go over it with you!