Importance of a Urinalysis

A Urinalysis (urine analysis) is often run by your veterinarian when your pet is displaying signs of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Common signs of a UTI may include increased frequency or straining during urination, accidents in the house and often blood in the urine. But, why does your veterinarian recommend a urinalysis as part of a wellness screen on your healthy pet? Because examining your pets’ urine can be just as important as bloodwork in determining the health of your pet.

A Urinalysis looks at several components; first is the chemical composition of the urine.

Colour – normal urine is varying shades of yellow. An abnormal colour can be the result of infection or muscle breakdown.

Clarity – urine should be clear. Cloudy urine can be the result of blood, crystals, fat or white blood cells.

Specific Gravity – this is the concentration of the urine. Along with other parameters can inform the veterinarian of the hydration of your pet and can be an indication of other diseases, such as kidney disease, adrenal gland disorders or diabetes mellitus.

pH – how acidic or basic the urine is; normal range is 6.5- 7.0. If the pH changes too much crystals start to form in the bladder, which can develop into bladder stones. pH is heavily dependent on your pet’s diet.

Protein – If there is protein in the urine, this can indicate infection, and depending on the level the severity of kidney disease.

Glucose – there should never be glucose(sugar) in the urine. If there is, this means there is too much glucose circulating in the bloodstream, and the kidneys are not able to filter out the extra. Your pet is likely diabetic.

Ketones – are a product of metabolism. If ketones are present, it indicates a complication to diabetes mellitus and occasionally is seen with starvation.

Bilirubin/Urobilinogen – can indicate liver disease if other parameters are also abnormal.

A physical exam is also done on the urine; this is called urine sediment. A small sample of urine is spun in a centrifuge so the cells can be separated from the urine; the cells are then examined under the microscope.

Red Blood Cells – are seen when there is bleeding or irritation somewhere along the urinary tract.

White Blood Cells – a few cells are considered normal, if they are found in excess it can be an infection, an inflammatory process, trauma or neoplasia.

Epithelial Cells – the urinary tract has specific types of epithelial cells that can be seen in the urine normally.

However, if these cells are found to be abnormal, it may be an indication of a tumour, likely in the bladder.

Crystals – there are various types of crystals found in urine that can form under different circumstances – from infection, poor diet, liver disease and even anti-freeze poisoning.

Having your pet provide a small sample of what is normally considered “waste” allows your veterinarian to assess multiple parameters of your pet’s well-being.

Written by: Kate, RVT