Your Dog or Cat 's Urinalysis

To see what normal blood and urine values are for your pet, go here

For an explanation of causes of most abnormal blood and urine tests go here

To see how tests are often grouped, go here

Ron Hines DVM PhD

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Your Pet’s Urinalysis

Checking your pet’s urine for its characteristics and the presence of things that should not be there, along with a CBC/WBC and blood chemistry determination are the one of the four pillars of diagnosis. The other three are the history you provide, the physical exam and diagnostic imaging (x-rays, ultrasound, etc.

An accurate complete urinalysis is something your veterinarian’s technicians  can perform in their office. It is quick and relatively inexpensive, but it provides a wealth of information of the status of your pet’s urinary system. Because the job of your pet’s kidneys is to conserve or eliminate constituents of the whole body, urine analysis can give important clues to health issues that are occurring far from the kidneys and urinary tract.  Your veterinarian gets the most information when the results of your pet’s CBC/WBC and blood chemistry are in one hand and the urinalysis results in the other. Important information can be missed or misinterpreted when the two are not performed together.

A complete urinalysis begins with a fresh urine sample. Stale or contaminated samples can give misleading results.

The first exam is a visual and sniff test. Urine color, turbidity and smell are important.

The next is urine concentration. The specific gravity of the urine indicates both kidney condition and body hydration. Your vet uses an apparatus called a refractometer to determine specific gravity (SpGr).
 
Then, a urine dipstick – a thin strip of paper impregnated with various chemical-containing squares is moistened with urine. Depending on the color change, up to ten
urine parameters can be checked. (glucose, bilirubin, ketones, specific gravity, blood, pH, protein, urobilinogen, nitrite, and leukocytes) Those values provide information regarding the blood sugar status, kidney and liver function, acid-base balance, and urinary tract infection.
 
Once that has been done, a tube of your pet’s urine is centrifuged to drive suspended particles to the bottom. That sediment is examined under a microscope for the presence of crystals, white or red blood cells, bacteria possible tumor cells or the cast ruminants of cells that line the urinary system. You can read about the reasons we find them that through those links.  
 
When your veterinarian suspects a urinary tract infection and wishes to culture your dog or cat ’s urine for bacteria, they often prefer a non-contaminated sample obtained through a needle. The procedure is called cystocentesis.

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