What Your Pet’s Urine Test Tells Us

As our pets get older various diseases can develop which prematurely shorten their lives. Diseases that commonly affect middle age and older cats include kidney failure, diabetes and liver disease. Geriatric dogs often develop prostate conditions, adrenal gland disease and bladder stones. Although some of these conditions develop in body organs entirely separate from the urinary system, early signs of these diseases can often be found in the urine. Early detection leading to prompt treatment of these conditions increases the chances of successful treatment and possible cue. Analysis of a sample of urine (urinalysis) from your pet is a good screening test for impending problems.

The Urinalysis

Example of a Urinalysis (what we see):





















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Epithelial Cells

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Rare Crystal Fragment


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The Urinalysis is a test that examines the physical and chemical properties of your pet’s urine. This is a valuable assessment that can give clues to the functioning of multiple organ systems. It is necessary for a complete assessment of the urinary and renal (kidney) systems.

Color – normal urine is transparent and yellow or amber. Abnormal urine color may indicate dehydration or an interference with urine concentration. Any color other than yellow indicates pigments, blood, debris or crystals, which may signal an underlying condition.

Urine Specific Gravity (USG) – this is a measure of urine concentration. Highly concentrated urine indicates dehydration. Continuously passing dilute urine may also indicate an underlying disease that may warrant further investigation.

pH – a measure of how acidic or alkaline the urine is. Extremes in pH are often associated with underlying conditions. A pet with highly acidic urine may develop calcium oxalate stones, while highly alkaline is more susceptible to bladder infections and struvite stones.

Protein – healthy animals will usually have no protein in their urine or trace amounts.

Glucose – if the blood glucose is higher than normal, some of the excess is found in the urine, which is abnormal. This is often an indicator of diabetes mellitus or kidney disease.

Ketones – appear in the urine when there is and excessive breakdown of fat to meet energy needs (often occurs with Diabetes Mellitus).

Bilirubin – a pigment made by the liver when it processes old red blood cells. When found in the blood, this can indicate a problem with the liver or bile duct, or abnormal destruction of red blood cells.

Blood/Hemoglobin – can be seen due to a number of causes, including trauma, infection, bladder stones and blood clotting problems.

White Blood Cells (WBC) – indicates inflammation, often secondary to bacterial infection.

Red Blood Cells (RBC) – usually indicates bleeding.

Epithelial (tissue) Cells – may indicate inflammation, bladder stones or prostate problems in male dogs. Abnormal cells  may also warrant consideration of cancer.

Crystals – Crystals in urine do not always indicate disease, but specific types of crystals are associated with conditions such as bladder or kidney stones, liver disease or sometimes poisoning.

Casts – these are small cylinder-shaped formations of cells and debris from inside the kidneys. Their presence and composition gives some information on kidney function.

Bacteria – large amounts of bacteria usually indicate an infection in the urinary system. Performing an additional test called a urine culture and sensitivity gives information about the type of bacteria present and which antibiotics will be effective in treatment.


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