Performing a urinalysis, or testing your pets’ urine, can give us various indicators about what may be taking place inside your pets’ body. From a diagnostic standpoint, a urinalysis is a very common and frequent test that we can run in our hospital or send to an outside, specialized laboratory.
So...one of our veterinarians recommends a urinalysis, what exactly does that mean?
The first step required for a urinalysis is capturing the sample. This can be accomplished via three different methods:
1: The owner-friendly method is called the “free catch” method. We routinely use this method in the hospital, as well. Urine can be obtained while your pet is voiding naturally. Sometimes having assistance from another person can be helpful in collecting the sample; one person can walk the pet while the other catches the urine. We offer sterile pans and transfer cups for your convenience.
Ideally, the urine sample will be collected, and the test will begin immediately. When collecting at home, we know that this may not always be possible. As a clinic, we prefer fresh urine collected within the hour.
We recommended collecting the urine in the morning, but refrigeration may be utilized if the urine is collected after our regular hours of operation. We take storing options and time into account when analyzing the sample, as false positives may develop with time, even with refrigeration.
2: Urine may also be collected in the hospital during a sterile and minimally invasive procedure known as a cystocentesis. With a syringe, a doctor will aspirate urine directly from a full bladder. This process allows for a low risk of bacterial cross-transfer and potential false positives that we may see with the free catch method. Your pet may experience minor discomfort during the aspiration, but no more than receiving a vaccination of having a blood draw.
3: Lastly, if appropriate, a catheter may be placed to allow for sterile and direct urine collection. Again, this method ensures minimal false positives or bacterial transfer.
Once urine is available, testing may begin. There are three parts of the testing process.
1: Using a refractometer, the specific gravity of the urine can be determined. This tells us how dilute the urine is.
2: The dipstick portion of the test indicates if leukocytes, bilirubin, urobilinogen, nitrite, ketones, or proteins are present in the urine. It will also tell us if blood, glucose, or an abnormal pH level is present.
3: The third portion of the test involves reading a sediment. Using a microscope, we can visualize any cells, bacteria, casts, or crystals that may be present in the urine.
We use the urinalysis process daily. It grants us the ability to diagnose urinary tract infections and determine which medication will be suitable in eliminating the infection.
The urinalysis also helps us focus diagnosis concerning abnormal kidney, liver, or pancreatic functions.
Depending on clinical findings and known symptoms, a doctor may find it necessary to continue diagnostics with a radiograph or bloodwork. For example, when crystals are visualized in the sediment, we are concerned a urolith, or bladder stone, may be present. Taking an x-ray will confirm or deny a bladder stone. Your doctor will discuss further treatment and prevention of urinary crystals and/or stones.