How to Get Urine Samples from Pets

by on February 23rd, 2015
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The veterinarian finishes his examination of your pet, fishes a plastic pot out of the drawer and hands it over while saying those dreaded words “We will need a urine sample.” While it may feel like the veterinarian is inflicting punishment upon you, I assure you that this isn’t the case. There are a significant number of conditions that warrant urinary examination. From urinary tract infections, diabetes, renal disease, urinary crystals and stones, urinary examinations can be a key part of the diagnostic investigation into your pet’s health.

While that knowledge might not increase your desire to chase your pet around the back garden, hopefully it will give you an understanding on why getting as much fresh urine to your vet as possible is key. And to make it an easier venture, here are a few tips to make the challenge of the “free catch” less challenging and more rewarding.

Getting a Good Sample:

Before getting started, it is best to know what your veterinarian will want. That way you can minimize the chance you will be sent out to collect a new sample. First off, a few drops aren’t enough. An inadequate sample volume will mean that a full examination will not be able to be carried out, and likely you will have to try again.

Your veterinarian will need as much as you can bring in, within reason. A few millilitres of urine will allow the veterinary surgeon to perform a routine biochemistry examination and have some left over to examine for crystals (Please see my article on What Can a Urine Sample Tell Your Vet?” for more information: If urine needs to be sent off for further specialist testing, having an adequate volume of sample on hand will mean you won’t have to head back out into the garden for another chase.

Urine samples collected from dogs should be a ‘free catch,’ ideally midstream. It goes without saying this won’t be the case with cats. Still it is worth noting that urine samples out of litter or off the ground will be of limited value. They will still be useful for some tests, but this ‘contamination’ will mean you aren’t getting the full picture or perhaps the results will be skewed.

Timing is important too. Urine samples have limited shelf lives and aging changes some of the results your veterinary surgeon will see. These artefacts are best avoided so aim to collect a urine sample near to when you will be able to drop it off at the vet’s office. Therefore, its ideal to get a sample during the morning walk if you will be able to drop it off that morning. If you can’t get in right away, urine samples can be kept in the fridge (away from food) but it is worth noting that some crystals will form artificially in the stagnant urine and again may skew results.

Therefore, the key factors in the ideal urine sample are fresh “free catches” of an adequate volume.

Getting a Home Urine Sample from a Cat

We all know that cats are stubborn creatures at the best of times and there is no way they are going to cooperate and pee into the plastic tube the vet has provided. As cats adopt different lifestyles, its not uncommon for people to feel that collecting a urine sample is impossible. It doesn’t have to be.

One technique that is often successful is to keep the cat sequestered in a separate room overnight with an empty litter box. This way there is no challenge of obtaining a sample from an outdoor cat outside nor is there risk of contamination by a healthy member of the feline household. If you are concerned that your cat may soil the carpeting rather then use the box, the cat can has his overnight accommodation in either a room without carpet or the bathroom.

If your cat won’t tolerate an empty box, many veterinary practices and pet shops sell non-absorbent substrates. These can be small plastic balls (i.e. Katkor) or even non-absorbent sterile sand substrate. Of course, cats will have different preferences but most cats will use them if left without an alternate choice. Do avoid using regular litter or dirt, as these can contaminate the urine and skew results. Once the sample is obtained it can be decanted into the vial, and delivered to the veterinary surgery.

Getting a Home Urine Sample from a Dog

While less stubborn than cats, the canine patient can provide a more cardiovascular workout when it comes to urine sample collection. Male dogs can be easier to gain samples from, as territorial marking will give you a number of attempts to get a sample.

You may fine it easier if the dog is kept on lead. You may also find it beneficial to recruit an assistant to walk the dog while you prepare to collect the urine sample. If you have great aim, you may opt to catch the sample in the bottle provided. Or some veterinary practices do sell adaptors for easier capture.

If that is not an option, or you don’t feel daring, then use of an alternative item may be the key for you. Some people use bowls or bigger jars, which are fine. Remember to make sure these are clean and will not contaminate the sample. For female dogs that squat close to the ground, a clean baking tray or litter box can be used to catch the sample. One owner I met once confessed that he had an old frying pan, no longer used for cooking, to catch urine from his diabetic dog. He found that the handle made for an easier manoeuvring, while the pan portion was stout enough to slip under the dog while she was urinating. I admit it sounded strange but if it made the challenge less challenging and allowed for better care of his pet, then so be it. Obviously, don’t use a pan you plan on cooking with again.

These are all viable options. Just remember that they need to be clean and should not be used for cooking food afterwards. Hopefully, these ideas will help you in your question to catch a urine sample from your pet. If you have any additional tips, feel free to comment and together we can make things a little less challenging for us and make sure our pets get the best health care possible.

For more information, see: What Can a Urine Sample Tell Your Vet?” @

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