A dog’s urine can provide a lot of information about their general health; to vets, a urine sample can be a goldmine of valuable insights into how many body systems are functioning. But how exactly do you go about collecting urine from your dog? Here is the recommended approach.
So, how do you get a urine sample from a dog? To get a urine sample from a dog, you need to collect it in a clean, sanitized container as your dog urinates. Holding the container (while wearing gloves), attaching the collecting vessel to the end of a long stick, or placing a large tray on the floor that you collect some urine from are potential approaches.
Urine is produced as blood is filtered by the kidneys and is the body’s way of getting rid of the waste and toxic by-products of metabolism.
Urine is mostly water – but the amount of water excreted at any one time will depend on how well hydrated your dog is.
Clear urine means they are likely well-hydrated and can afford to get rid of excess water.
Whereas darker yellow-colored urine might indicate they are dehydrated. The body tries to hold onto as much water as possible.
Urea is one of the waste products excreted and formed from the breakdown of excess or poor-quality proteins in the diet; we would expect to see this in the urine.
Other substances such as glucose, ketones, crystals, and large proteins, to name a few, shouldn’t be present in the urine, for example, and therefore may indicate an underlying disease.
If your dog is unwell or has a history of certain health conditions, your vet might have asked you to bring a fresh urine sample for them to analyze.
Whether it’s for looking for glucose which could indicate diabetes or looking for bacteria as evidence of a urinary tract infection, there are many applications for analyzing a urine sample.
This article will explain how to collect a urine sample and how to make sure it is of the highest quality for your vet to examine.
How Do You Get A Urine Sample From A Dog At Home?
To collect a urine sample from your dog, you’ll need to try and catch a sample mid-stream, so to speak. Of course, the ease of this will depend on your dog’s temperament and how well they tolerate being interrupted while urinating.
I’m sure they won’t be used to be sneaked up on while peeing!
First, you’ll need some vessel or container to catch the urine in.
An old takeaway tub or jar works well.
Be sure to thoroughly disinfect the container first to ensure no bacterial contamination, followed by a rinse with clean water.
It’s also recommended that you wear gloves when collecting the sample to keep your hands urine-free!
Next, take your dog on its lead into the garden or for a walk and wait for them to urinate.
You’ll need to place the container underneath your dog as they urinate to collect a sample.
Wait for your dog to begin urination before you place the pot underneath as not to startle them.
For male dogs, place the container under his penis; for females, you’ll need to hold the container further back where her vulva is.
This is the tricky part for many owners as their dog won’t be used to being interfered with while urinating and can be apprehensive about urinating in the first place.
One option may be to attach the collecting vessel to the end of a long stick or broom handle; that way, you can introduce it from a distance.
If your dog simply refuses to urinate, however, then it leaves few options.
One alternative is to place a larger tray or sheet on the floor and allow your dog to urinate on top of it, but that might not always be practical.
Make sure that whatever you place on the floor is completely clean. You can then collect the sample by pouring it off into a vessel.
If none of these options work then, you may be out of luck.
Don’t worry too much; if your vet absolutely requires a urine sample, there are ways they can get it from your dog.
We will now see how they will likely do this.
How Does The Vet Get A Urine Sample From A Dog?
Vets will typically express a dog’s bladder or use techniques such as urinary catheterization or cystocentesis to collect a urine sample from a dog. All of such are complex techniques are require expertise to execute.
If you cannot get a urine sample yourself, but one is required to investigate further why your dog is unwell, there are methods a vet can use to get a sample.
The one prerequisite to this is that your dog’s bladder must be full – i.e., there must be urine present to sample.
These methods are generally non-invasive and usually require sedation, so your dog won’t feel a thing.
One way that your vet can attempt to get a sample is by expressing their bladder.
This involves your vet gently feeling for the bladder by palpating your dog’s abdomen.
If the bladder is full, pressure can then be carefully applied to stimulate your dog to urinate.
Only very tolerant dogs will allow this to happen, and often sedation will be required.
However, the downside of this method is that contamination of the urine sample can occur by bacteria on the skin where the urethra opens, so it isn’t the best method if your vet is investigating a potential urinary tract infection.
Another method is through urinary catheterization – placing a urinary catheter up your dog’s urethra and into the bladder.
A urine sample can then be aspirated directly from the bladder by pulling back on a syringe.
This must be done under sedation, and there is some risk of contamination of the sample by bacteria on the skin where the urethra opens.
The preferred method of urine collection is through a technique known as cystocentesis.
This involves inserting a needle into your dogs’ bladder through the abdominal wall using ultrasound guidance.
This must be performed under sedation but is the best method of the three as the sample collected is sterile; there is no contamination by bacteria from elsewhere.
Therefore, if bacteria are found in the urine sample, they must have come from the bladder, indicating a urinary tract infection is present.
If bacteria are found in samples collected by other methods, it is difficult to say how significant they are as it’s not possible to distinguish bacteria from contamination and a urinary tract infection.
How Much Dog Urine Is Needed For A Sample?
Not much urine is needed to perform urinalysis (analysis of urine). Aim for 5ml of urine, and that should be plenty. Any less than this is still useful, but it may limit the number of tests your vet can perform, forcing them to prioritize some over others.
Your vet will perform a urine dipstick which tests the pH and various levels of different substances in the urine, including glucose, ketones, blood, protein, white blood cells, and nitrates.
The amount of each of these substances is estimated based on if a color change occurs when urine is added to the dipstick.
Your vet will measure the specific gravity of the urine, which ascertains how concentrated the urine sample is, gleaning information into the hydration status of your dog, among other things.
The urine can also be examined under the microscope for the presence of different cells, crystals, and bacteria in a process called microscopy.
Vets can make a small amount of urine go a long way.
If they require a larger volume of urine, then they’ll let you know.
How Long Does A Dog Urine Sample Last?
A urine sample shouldn’t be kept any longer than 24 hours. The longer a urine sample is left before analyzing it, the less reliable the results will be. Over time, the pH can change, crystals can form, and bacteria can multiply, skewing the results.
Be sure to keep the sample in a clean, airtight container to keep it as fresh as possible. Write your dog’s name and the time of collection on the container.
Take the sample to vets as soon as possible, ideally within 2-3 hours.
Storing the urine sample in the fridge at 4C (39F) can help preserve the quality of the sample by slowing bacterial growth.
However, storing a sample for too long can cause crystals to form.
As you can see, while urine might not be more than an inconvenience to owners, it can be like gold dust to vets, giving critical insights into the health of your dog.
Thankfully, there is a range of different methods that you can use to collect a sample.
Whatever one you choose, be sure good hygiene is at the forefront of your approach.
Sanitization, the wearing of disposable gloves – these are in many ways mandatory.
From there, it’s going to be more about your dog – what they are comfortable with and what allows them to go.
And once you have it. Get it over to the vets.
As soon as you can.
That way, it will be much more insightful.