The importance of examining urine in animals
By Dr. Elizabeth Knabe, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
Clients may wonder why their veterinarian often asks for a sample of their pet’s urine for analysis. It may be for a routine health screening or as part of a workup for a seemingly unrelated problem. The truth is that this test can detect health problems early and before owners ever see changes in their pets. Changes in urine often occur before changes in the blood. A urine test is also crucial in evaluating pets with suspected diseases of the urinary tract.
The urinalysis consists of three parts. One is the physical properties exam, which includes color, level of clarity, and an important test called specific gravity. That is the measure of how concentrated the urine is. In forming urine the kidneys filter the blood to take out the waste products and put most of the water back into circulation. If a pet’s urine has a low specific gravity, it may mean the pet is in the early stages of kidney disease where more of the body’s water is lost in the urine. Treatments at this early stage may help slow progression of the disease.
The next portion involves the chemical tests on urine. A strip coated with small test pads is dipped into the urine. Color changes mean sugar is present, as would be the case for a diabetic pet. Protein level is also detected, and significant levels of it can indicate trouble in the kidney’s filtration system. Blood can also be noted, and sometimes a pet with a bladder stone will have blood in the urine as the only sign.
The last part of the exam is a reading of the sediment, which is made up of the solid particles, cells, or bacteria, of the urine. This is where a diagnosis of a urinary tract infection may be made if there are high numbers of white blood cells. Increases in red blood cell numbers can indicate infection as well as bladder stones or other problems.
Delicate casts are elements formed from inside the kidney and can indicate problems there. Crystals can be seen, but they are not always significant since they can form during storage. Bacteria can be seen when they are in sufficiently high numbers, and not all pets with large amounts of bacteria in the urine will show outward signs of it.
In conclusion, we hope you understand why the simple urine test is such a good one.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.