Collecting Urine Samples

January 24, 2024

At some time during your pet’s lifetime, we may need to check a urine sample to help us diagnose a problem. When that time comes it is useful to know a few things to understand why we do this and how to make the process slightly easier.

How useful are urine samples? 

We often look at urine samples at the same time as checking blood profiles. Together they are essential for staging and monitoring the progression of problems such as kidney disease. We can also get important information from urine samples on their own for other medical problems such as diabetes, haemolytic anaemia, bacterial cystitis, urinary crystals and Cushing’s disease to name a few.

A urine sample can be a good place to start an investigation particularly if you think your pet is doing either of the following:

  • Showing signs of cystitis (inflammation of the bladder, which can be very uncomfortable) signs include urinating more frequently or struggling to urinate. Sometimes you may notice a change in smell of the urine or see blood or pink tinges in their urine.
  • Drinking more than usual: this may indicate diabetes, infection or kidney disease for example.

Assessing a urine sample is a relatively stress-free way of beginning a work-up. It can tell us a lot about what may be going on and what we do next. It is also a very good thing to monitor when checking the progress of certain treatments.

There are two types of urine sample that we may consider using: 

  1. A free catch sample (collected when the animal urinates). In dogs (male and female) it can be caught directly in a CLEAN sample pot or jam jar (we also have special urinary collection pots that come with a small funnel – please ask your vet or at reception if you would like one of these). In cats we recommend collecting it via a litter tray using non-absorbent cat litter (such as  Katkor which can be purchased from us or pet shops). ADVANTAGES: can be done at home in a relaxed environment DISADVANTAGES: Some contamination inevitable, incorrect storage or delay in processing may affect accuracy of results.
  2. Cystocentesis (urine taken via needle and syringe directly from your pet’s bladder)
    ADVANTAGES: A ‘clean’ sample with no contaminants from the environment. This can be collected directly from your pet when they visit the surgery and processed without delay for accurate results.
    DISADVANTAGES: Requires a full bladder at the time of collection. Some patients not keen on having it done.

What should I do with a home caught urine sample to get the best results? 

  1. Make sure your litter tray/collection pot is as clean as possible. Cat litter trays should be rinsed with warm soapy water and dried. Sterile sample pots are available free from the practice or use a well washed jam jar or leak proof plastic pot.
  2. Aim to collect the sample as close to the time you plan to deliver it to the surgery as you can – first urination of the day is best if possible as it is most concentrated and can therefore give us the most information.
  3. If there is a delay between collection and delivery store your sample in the fridge, samples should be delivered to the practice within 24 hours of being collected.
  4. Label the sample with your pet’s name and surname, date and time of collection. When you deliver it to us, please let us know why you have collected the sample, plus any symptoms/changes you have noticed.

Usually, preliminary results will be available to you within 24-48 hours of collection as we have our own lab machines at the practice. If samples are being sent away to an external laboratory for tests that cannot be done with us (ie. bacterial culture and sensitivity testing), results will take slightly longer.  Please ask your vet for clarification.

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