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One Simple Test Your Dog Needs Every Year

A urinalysis should be done for your dog at least yearly.

Dog urine. It's not something to which we tend to give a lot of thought. That is, of course, unless your dog is having accidents in the house.

Still, your dog's urine can provide a great deal of information on her health status, even allowing a veterinarian to catch and treat certain problems before signs of illness develop.

What Is a Urinalysis?

Urine is what leaves the body after the kidneys are finished filtering out toxins and adding water.

Urinalysis is the process of testing a urine sample to gain information about various aspects of a dog's health.

First, a urine sample is collected from the dog. This may be done by walking her and catching urine in a sterile container when she goes (free catch), using a sterile needle to collect urine directly from the bladder through the abdomen wall, or by placing a urinary catheter into the bladder and removing urine from it.

Most of the time, urine is collected from dogs through free catch.

What Can a Urinalysis Tell Us?

Several tests can be done on the urine:

  • Specific gravity is a measurement of how concentrated or dilute the urine is. Dilution level can give us information about a dog's kidney function as well other conditions when used together with other test results.
  • Protein levels in the urine can be measured on a dipstick; this gives us information about the dog's kidneys or whether blood or an infection may be present in the urine.
  • Glucose is also measured with a dipstick and can help diagnose diabetes.
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    Ketone levels are measured on a urine dipstick, and if they're present, diabetes is suspected.
  • Red blood cells and white blood cells can be seen on a dipstick or after the urine is spun down in a centrifuge and the solids examined under a microscope.
  • A bacterial culture can be done on urine to investigate the possibility of a urinary tract infection and to determine to which antibiotics a particular bacterial infection is susceptible.
  • Crystals and other structures such as abnormal bladder cells can also be identified when sediment is examined under the microscope. Information about bladder and kidney health can be gleaned from the presence or absence of these cells.

When Should Your Dog Have a Urinalysis?

If your veterinarian suspects diabetes, kidney disease, bladder problems, or urinary tract infection, he or she will probably recommend a urinalysis.

It is also a good idea to check a dog's urine routinely once a year and more often as your dog ages.

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