High on the list of the many cringeworthy things we hope not to hear at a visit to the doctor is, “I’ll need a urine sample”, but we accept it as something that’s important in the diagnosis of potential problems and compliantly retreat to the toilet, plastic jar in hand. Our pets’ doctors also recognise the importance of pee in the provision of invaluable health insights, and without it illnesses can progress and are sometimes too late to treat by the time symptoms become apparent.
This simple and affordable test provides the opportunity for your vet to check the health of your pet’s kidneys and urinary system and look for other problems in their organs as well as signs of metabolic disease. An animal may appear completely healthy and not exhibit any signs of discomfort or issues until they have gone beyond the point where the disease is treatable. An annual urinalysis can catch difficult-to-detect diseases in their earliest stages and they can be an important way to ensure that your pet is healthy and disease-free.
A simple urine sample can detect diseases in your pet such as:
- Kidney Disease
- Bleeding in the urinary system caused by:
- Bacterial infection
- Bladder stones
- Hemolytic anemia
- Muscle inflammation or injury
- Liver disease
- Red blood cell destruction (hemolysis)
- Bacterial infection
- Urinary tract inflammation
- Prostate problems (males)
Collecting urine – How to go with the flow
Unfortunately, it is not always an easy thing to collect a urine sample from your pet at home. The least stressful for your pet, is to collect their urine in a sterile container in a familiar environment… but it might be rather stressful for you!
There are two methods that vets can use to draw urine from your pet, if mid-flow collection at home is not possible.
- Cystocentesis is a common clinical technique used to obtain a sample of urine directly from the urinary bladder of dogs and cats. The vet inserts a needle through the abdominal wall of an animal, into the bladder, and a sample of urine is removed. It is invasive to the pet; however, it is the most accurate way to collect urine as it reduces the possibility of contamination
- Catheterisation is a less invasive method, where the vet inserts a catheter – which is a thin flexible tube – into the bladder to drain urine. There is a risk of contamination with this way, as bacteria from the urethra could get into the bladder via the tube.
Things to keep in mind when collecting your pet’s urine sample for analysis:
- Ask your vet to provide you with a sterile container in which you will collect your pet’s urine. Do not use any old container; otherwise the results may be contaminated.
- For the most reliable test results, you should deliver the sample to your vet within a four-hour window, and the sooner the better.
- If you know the vet is unable to run the tests immediately, you may refrigerate the sample for no longer than 24 hours (do not freeze the urine sample).
How to collect urine from your dog:
- You want to catch the urine midstream (after the flow has started) to reduce contaminating bacteria in the sample
- Have the container ready (lid off) and position yourself the moment your dog starts to urinate
- Collect the urine midway through in the sterile container
- Close lid tightly, and off to the vet you go!
How to collect urine from your cat:
It can be a challenging task to collect urine from a cat, but you have a better chance if they are an indoor cat and use a litter tray.
- Clean your cat’s litter tray and place a smaller amount than usual of non-absorbent cat litter
- Monitor your cat for when it next uses its litter tray
- Once it has urinated, use a syringe or pipette to transfer the urine into a sterile container. Try to avoid the bits of litter from falling into the sterile container
- Close the lid tightly and take the sample straight to the vet.
If your cat is an outdoor cat, you may need to bring your cat to the vet on a full bladder so that they can carefully extract the urine sample.
From the urinalysis, your vet will examine the cloudiness and colour of the sample, then test for things such as:
- pH levels
- Protein content
- Red blood cells
- White blood cells
Combining these indicators will enable your vet to assess whether your pet may be suffering from one or more of the conditions listed above. Follow-up tests, such as blood tests, may be required if that is the case to further investigate an issue.
Rest assured that even though we might feel a little awkward taking a pee sample from our pet, they won’t blush. They might wonder what you’re doing and be a little reluctant to cooperate, but they’ll forgive you for invading their private time. Don’t forget that if it all gets too much your vet has other methods to obtain the liquid gold. It’s great if you can manage it at home, but don’t despair if you can’t, and instead give us a call.