How to Collect a Urine Sample From a Dog
Collecting a urine sample from your dog is often recommended when your dog needs a urinalysis. If you own a dog that has begun straining to urinate or has been urinating drops of blood, you may be dealing with a dog urinary tract infection.
When you schedule for your dog's vet appointment and describe the symptoms, the receptionist may tell you to bring along a urine sample. As you put down the receiver, you wonder how a urine sample is collected. Yes, a human urinalysis can be quite simple, but when it comes to a dog, how do you get a urine sample? Where do you keep the urine? How do you keep it fresh? How long can you store it? And last but not least, how much is needed? So many questions!
First off, what exactly is a urinalysis? As the name implies it's an analysis of the dog's urine. It's one of the most important tools to diagnose many conditions in dogs.
For instance, a urinalysis can detect bladder stones, infections and even possible prostate problems, liver disease, kidney disease and cancer. As you can tell, it's valuable information that will help your vet determine exactly what is going on with your dog.
Collecting a urine sample from your dog isn't hard, and if you are worried you won't be able to collect it, don't despair. Your vet can always collect it for you. Before giving up though or thinking it's too hard, read the instructions below, you may be surprised to find out it's much easier than thought!
What's a Urine Culture and Sensitivity Test?
In some cases, a vet will order a urine culture and sensitivity test. The culture is helpful in identifying the specific bacteria causing a urinary tract infection. The urine is often obtained through a procedure known as cystocentesis.
After the urine is obtained, its incubated to allow the bacteria to grow so it can be properly identified. Once the bacteria is identified, a sensitivity test takes place.
In this test, the vet will determine which antibiotic works best against the specific bacteria. Generally, this test is ordered when an animal is diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and the prescribed antibiotic is not working.
Step-by-Step Instructions on Collecting a Urine Sample From a Dog
The following steps will help you collect a urine sample from your dog. In veterinary terms it's often called "free catch." Because urine samples must be at the peak of their freshness, you want to collect it within a few hours of taking it to your vet.
Working at a vet hospital, I was quite used to owners dropping it off within minutes and I could feel from the container that it was still warm. Often the sample was collected on the spot in the little grassy area we had in front of the office.
I would then ask the owners the time it was collected and labeled the container with the dog's name, time it was collected and would take it to the back immediately. So here are some steps for a successful urine collection from your dog.
Step 1: Choose the Right Container
As with human urinalysis, choosing the right container can make a whole lot of difference. Your dog's urine sample should be collected in a clean, preferably sterile container. You may want to wear disposable gloves.
If you are planning to use a container from home, make sure it is clean and dry and that it has a lid. This is very important. I don't know how many samples we had to refuse because the container wasn't as clean as needed or it spilled in the owner's car.
Most veterinarians will provide sterile containers for urine collection upon request and many times they are free (or at least, they used to be).
Step 2: Pick the Right Time
You may have to do a bit of time management to be successful. You will need to combine a time when your dog's bladder is full and has a strong urge to urinate, with a time that is convenient for you to drop the sample off to the vet.
Most dogs feel compelled to urinate first thing in the morning if they were in the night indoors with you. Also, remember, that you want to drop off the sample as soon as you can and morning urine samples are best.
Ideally, urine samples should be analyzed within two hours, but can be slightly longer if the sample was refrigerated. Check with your vet on exact guidelines.
Step 3: Plan How to Collect It
You may need some advanced planning to do in order to be successful. Will you have somebody helping you when you collect the sample? Is your dog comfortable urinating when he's on leash? Does your dog like to mark/urinate in a certain spot? Does he urinate on walks? Does he know how to urinate on command? Is your dog a male of a female? Is your dog comfortable having you near when he urinates?
Make plans on how you will collect the urine. If you have a big yard or acreage, you may want your dog secluded to a small area, or better, keep him on leash so you won't have to chase him around.
How to a Collect Urine Sample From a Female Dog
Some owners have success by placing a saucer under their female dog as she squats down. Others have found that attaching a cup to a long ruler or a yardstick helps for those dogs that are uncomfortable when owners get too close while they urinate. I personally like to use a soup ladle for both male and female dogs and this is what we suggested when I was working for a vet. For female dogs, you will stay behind your female dog and wait for her to squat.
How to a Collect Urine Sample From a Male Dog
For male dogs, you will need to stay to your dog's side rather than behind. Many male dogs urine mark, so you want to watch for when your male dog finds a vertical surface such as a bush, tree or post. As soon as you see him raise his leg, bend down and catch the sample with your ladle.
Tip: The best sample is collected midstream and first thing in the morning as that's when the urine is most concentrated.
Step 4: Be Conservative
When it comes to urine samples, amounts can be on the conservative size. Having worked at an animal hospital myself, our veterinarians often used to giggle as some clients used to bring a whole can of urine or a horse-size amount in a pint-size zip-lock bag.
Ideally, the amount should range between a teaspoon to a tablespoon. No need to collect the whole urine flow, just about one to two teaspoons will do!
Step 5: Store the Sample Correctly
As mentioned, urine samples should be at their peak of freshness, not older than a couple of hours ideally and should be preferably refrigerated to grant testing accuracy. I like to keep samples in a cooler for the car ride if the weather is hot. Never freeze a urine sample!
How to Collect a Urine Sample From a Male and Female Dog
What If I Can't Collect a Urine Sample From My Dog?
What if you weren't successful collecting a sample? It happens. You may have missed catching the urine or your dog may not be stimulated to go or you had a sample but your spouse found it in the fridge and drank it thinking it was apple juice. We actually had this happen!
If you have no luck catching the urine sample, take your dog to the vet. The technicians may walk your dog until he goes and catch the sample, or in worst case scenarios, when a sample is really needed for diagnostics, a cystocentesis can be performed.
This consists of a procedure where the veterinarian will stick a needle through the bladder wall and directly collect the urine this way. A big advantage of this procedure is that urine obtained via cystocentesis is sterile and free from bacteria or foreign matter.
This may sound like a harsh technique, but all the dog feels is the needle piercing the skin. If your dog is used to getting vaccinations, he may not be bothered by this procedure.
Another method is collecting the urine via catheter. A thin catheter is inserted into the urinary passage into the bladder and then urine is withdrawn into a syringe.
Normally, no anesthesia is usually required for both procedures (unless your pet is uncooperative, very small or in pain) and it is done pretty quickly if the bladder is full. If your dog is seeing the vet for this procedure try to refrain him from urinating hours prior or on the way to the vet.
As seen, a dog's urine can say many things. Generally, diluted urine that resembles water can indicate kidney problems or excessive drinking. Concentrated urine that is very yellow can indicate dehydration or liver and kidney issues.
Urine can be checked for glucose in diagnosing suspected diabetes or for protein in possible kidney failure. The PH of urine will determine if the urine is alkaline or acidic. White blood cells, red blood cells and bacteria may indicate infection, crystals may mean bladder stones.
A urinalysis is a valuable diagnostic test. Make sure you label the urine sample container with your dog's name, last name and time it was collected. This will help the receptionist and the veterinarian. Upon having run the urinalysis, your vet will give you a call on his/her findings and will discuss treatment options if anything was found.
How to Obtain a Urine Sample From a Small Dog
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2014 Adrienne Janet Farricelli