Why Are My Dog's Uric Acid Levels High ?
Why Are My Cat's Uric Acid Levels High ?
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 Uric Acid Level
In Blood or Urine
There is normally a small amount of uric acid in the blood and urine of healthy dogs and cats. But not nearly so much as in the blood and urine of the pet birds and reptiles I treat.(ref)
Uric acid is a breakdown product of the purines that are found in the DNA and RNA within all the cells of the body (other than RBCs). Organ meats, like liver and kidney are high in purines, plant ingredients in your pet's diet are much lower.
The problem is that uric acid is not very soluble in the blood stream or urine. When its levels get to high, uric acid falls out of solution and forms crystals. When that occurs in humans or birds, they develop gout.
Dogs and cats do not develop gout. Instead, in certain breeds of dogs (Dalmatians, English bulldogs) with defective metabolism (their liver can’t convert uric acid to allantoin), excessive blood and urine uric acid levels lead to uric acid stone forming in their kidneys and bladder (urolithiasis).
On rare occasions, defectively formed liver (portosystemic shunts) or other liver disease will make other breeds susceptible to uric acid-based urinary tract stones as well.
Your vet might check your pet’s uric acid levels for several reasons:
The vet may have submitted a kidney or bladder stone to a laboratory and found that it was composed of urates (uric acid).
Or, the vet may be screening potential breeder dogs (of susceptible breeds) for a genetic tendency to urate kidney stones.
Or, the vet might be trying to judge the effectiveness of treatment to prevent a reoccurrence of urate stones (allopurinol medication and special low-purine diets).
About 6% of the urinary tract stones that occur in cats are said to contain uric acid (as urate crystals). We often do not know why that occurred, but in a few of those cats, liver circulatory problems (portosystemic shunts) or genetically-cause kidney defects appear to be the reason. Some theorize that a diet high in purines (such as anchovies and sardines, liver and kidney meats) might be the cause. Whatever the cause, cats that do not drink adequately and who exist primarily on dry diets are probably the most at risk.
The concentration of urine (so also the amount of uric acid in it) varies throughout the day. Determining the ratio of uric acid to urine creatinine helps correct for that, since the concentration of creatinine is more stable. A better alternative is analyzing a pooled 24-hour urine collection for uric acid.
Because uric acid readily leaves solution and falls to the bottom of urine specimens as crystals, care must be taken that the urine sample is fresh, well mixed prior to testing and not overly chilled during storage.
Complementary Tests :
Genetic (DNA) test for a gene mutation in uric acid metabolism (hyperuricosuria).