A urinalysis is the most commonly performed urine test. It is an excellent diagnostic tool that can help determine the overall health of your dog or cat.
Urine testing is how we can detect any disease or illness in your pet, ranging from minor to serious. We will be looking for certain factors to determine whether further testing may be necessary to get an accurate diagnosis.
A urine test is comprised of many different tests. Read on to learn more about the importance of urine tests.
What is a Urinalysis, and Why is it Important?
A urinalysis is a test that investigates the health of the urine and kidneys. It can also detect certain illnesses that may be present in other organs. For example, it is an essential diagnostic tool for finding diabetes mellitus. This test should be included in your pet’s health evaluation.
A urinalysis uses different tests to identify and measure the various compounds found in urine. A urinalysis can determine several aspects of your dog or cat’s health.
What Are the Factors Involved with Urine?
With a urinalysis, we have to pay attention to certain qualities of the urine. Both the physical and biochemical properties of urine need to be investigated.
Your pet’s urine will be examined during urinalysis, which consists of the following:
Color and Appearance
Your pet’s urine should range in color from pale golden yellow to light amber. It is usually clear or a little cloudy. If your pet’s urine is dark yellow, they may be dehydrated.
If their urine is an extremely light shade of yellow, it could mean that your dog or cat is consuming a lot of water and urinating frequently. It could be a sign that they have kidney disease.
If your pet’s urine is any other color, like orange or brown, this could suggest that they are suffering from an underlying illness.
Urine Specific Gravity
We also test the gravity of the urine, which should not be used as a diagnostic tool. Instead, the test should determine whether further testing is needed. The specific gravity of the urine is quantified by an instrument called a refractometer.
A refractometer determines the ratio of the weight of a volume of urine compared to an equal quantity of distilled water.
With dipstick analysis, each test strip is permeated with multiple substances that will change color if the urine triggers a chemical reaction. Some of the things we look for include the following:
- Glucose will be a factor if there is diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, or other issues
- Protein in abnormal amounts will help identify inflammation, infection, bleeding, or metabolic disease
- Bilirubin or bile pigments in elevated levels can signify the destruction of red blood cells or pigments in the urine
- Changes in the pH of urine can be a sign of a kidney infection or kidney disease
- Ketones can indicate starvation, which can be a result of diabetes or another metabolic disease
- Blood may well be a sign of infection or other illnesses
In healthy pets, the urine pH ranges from 6.5 to 7.0. If the pH is either acidic or alkaline, it may cause problems. An acidic pH is below 6, and alkaline pH is above 7. However, your pet’s urine can also fluctuate in pH. Further testing may be necessary if we see these particular numbers consistently.
A dipstick test can help with the diagnosis and treatment of certain illnesses. It can also detect the presence of red blood cells or blood in the urine, which indicates illness.
In a microscopic analysis, we view a small drop of urine through a microscope to look for the following:
- Cancer cells
The microscopic examination of cells and solid substances necessitates that the sample is concentrated or contains sediment.
What Diseases or Illnesses are We Looking for?
Urinalysis results do not cement that your dog or cat has a health problem. The results must be considered along with your pet’s medical history and individual set of circumstances.
The following are some of the illnesses we will be testing for:
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections are commonplace in pets. The urinalysis could demonstrate bacteria and white blood cells when your pet has a UTI. If your cat is urinating on the outside of their litter pan, or if your dog urinates on the rug in your house, you should take them to the vet.
Antibiotics are usually prescribed when your dog or cat has a UTI. If the UTI is recurring, you may want to perform further testing.
Urinary tract infections typically accompany urinary crystals or stones. Kidney stones form when crystals are bound together in the urinary bladder. When your pet’s urine pH returns to its normal range, the crystals will dissipate.
Your vet may recommend that you change your pet’s food. If there are crystals in the urine, your vet may perform an X-ray. If changing your pet’s diet does not work, surgery may be required to remove the crystals.
The refractometer measures the concentration of urine. If the urine is dilute, it usually means that the kidneys are not functioning correctly. We may need to perform further testing to investigate. If there is kidney disease, it will last your pet’s lifetime.
However, the good news is that your dog or cat can live a long time with the help of food changes, proper medications, and supplementation. The appropriate treatment will undoubtedly improve your pet’s quality of life.
If there are elevated bilirubin levels in the urine, it can be a sign that something is aggravating your pet’s liver and red blood cells are being destroyed in their body. For cats, bilirubin is more concerning. Blood work will be necessary for further investigation.
Urinary Tract Cancer
A urinalysis will show many epithelial cells if a tumor is found in the urinary tract. Only a tiny amount of these cells is acceptable.
However, if there is a high amount of epithelial cells, this can signify a tumor in the urinary tract. Your vet may perform a radiograph or ultrasound and blood work to make a definitive diagnosis.
How is the Urine Collected?
There are three ways we can obtain urine from a dog or cat. These include the following:
- Cystocentesis is where urine is collected from the bladder with the help of a needle and syringe. The needle goes through the abdominal wall to amass urine from the bladder.
- Catheterization is when urine is collected by inserting a catheter up the urethra into the bladder.
- Mid-stream flow occurs when your pet provides urine into a sterile container, which the vet then uses as a sample (the urine sample may also be called a “free flow.”)
Your pet’s urine can give us a clearer picture of your pet’s health. It is an important test that can detect many illnesses and conditions. If diseases are recognized early enough, this test can significantly improve your pet’s quality of life.