The Perfect Time to Collect Your Dog’s Urine Sample

Urine samples are an important diagnostic tool that allow veterinarians to check for signs of disease and other health issues in dogs. Vets will often request a urine sample from canine patients as part of an annual wellness checkup or when symptoms like increased thirst/urination, discomfort while urinating, or changes in urine color/smell are noticed. The results of a urinalysis, which is the testing of a urine sample, can provide insight into kidney function, infections, diabetes, and more. However, the results are highly dependent on when during the day the urine sample is collected. The concentration and composition of a dog’s urine can vary drastically from morning to night. Timing the collection properly is crucial for accurate urinalysis results and proper treatment recommendations from the veterinarian.

Introduction

Reasons Vets Request Urine Samples

Veterinarians will often request a urine sample from dogs for diagnostic testing called a urinalysis. There are several key reasons vets analyze dog urine:

To diagnose infections – A urinalysis can detect the presence of bacteria which may indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI). Signs of infection include leukocytes and nitrites in the urine. Urine cultures are often performed as well to identify the specific bacteria causing infection.

To identify stones or crystals – Crystals or stones (like kidney or bladder stones) can form in the urinary tract. A urinalysis screens for the presence of crystals and provides clues about the type of stone or crystal that may be present.

a veterinarian examining a urine sample under a microscope.

To check for diabetes – Increased glucose in the urine could indicate diabetes. Vets will analyze the urine for glucose and check other markers that may point to diabetes.

To monitor organ function – Abnormalities in the urine can reflect issues with kidney, liver, or bladder function. Urine testing provides important clues about how well organs are functioning.

Optimal Timing

Veterinarians typically recommend collecting the first morning urine sample from your dog for optimal results. As explained by Airpark Animal Hospital, “A first morning urine sample is often the ideal sample for dogs because it is most likely to be concentrated. The kidneys are stimulated to draw the water out of the urine overnight” (https://www.airparkanimal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Urinalysis-collection-and-FAQ.pdf).

The first morning urine has the advantage of less dilution from excess drinking throughout the day. Overnight, as your dog sleeps, more crystals and cells can build up and concentrate in the urine as well. This makes the first morning urine especially useful for detecting issues like bladder infections or crystals.

Collecting the Sample

To collect a clean urine sample from your dog, start by sterilizing a plastic or glass container. According to the AKC, you want to use a clean container without any residue that could contaminate the sample [1]. Wait until your dog is mid-stream before collecting the urine. The first part of the stream contains bacteria from the lower urinary tract, so you want to avoid catching this part. Gently hold the container mid-stream to collect the clearest portion of urine.

As soon as you collect the sample, refrigerate it to preserve the sample. The bacteria levels can increase rapidly if left unrefrigerated. Keep the sample chilled until you can bring it to the vet for analysis. This will provide the most accurate results.

Avoid These Times

There are certain times when it is not ideal to collect a urine sample from your dog. This is because the sample may not reflect their normal urinary function and chemistry.

a dog owner collecting a urine sample from their dog outdoors.

After excessive drinking – If your dog drinks a lot of water before providing a sample, it will dilute the urine and alter the results of the urinalysis. It’s best to collect the sample before allowing your dog to drink a large amount.

After strenuous exercise – Intense physical activity can cause temporary proteinuria and change the chemical makeup of the urine. It’s advisable to avoid collecting a sample within a few hours of strenuous exercise (AKC).

While dog is sick – Illness, especially involving the urinary tract or kidneys, will affect the urine. It’s better to wait until the dog has recovered before collecting a sample.

On medication – Medications your dog is taking can impact urinalysis results. Check with your vet on the best timing for a urine sample in relation to administering medication.

Extra Tips

Here are some additional tips to help make collecting a urine sample from your dog go smoothly:

Be sure to reward and praise your dog during the collection process. Give treats and pets to keep them calm and cooperative. This will make the experience more positive for your dog. [1]

Monitor your dog closely for signs of frequent urination, which may indicate a urinary tract problem. Pay attention to when and how often they need to go outside. [2]

Note the color and odor of the urine sample. Dark yellow, cloudy or bloody urine could signify issues. Also make note of any unusual or foul smells. This information will help the vet diagnose any problems.

Once you’ve collected the sample, bring it to the vet as quickly as possible. Urine can degrade rapidly, so prompt delivery ensures the most accurate test results.

Understanding the Results

When a veterinarian analyzes a urine sample, they look for several indicators of your dog’s health. Some of the main components they analyze include:

With a thorough urinalysis, vets can diagnose conditions like UTIs, kidney disease, diabetes, bladder stones, cancer and more. Understanding your dog’s baseline values helps detect abnormalities early.

Dealing with Problems

There are various conditions that may show up in a dog’s urine sample and indicate underlying health issues. Some of the most common include:
a dog receiving antibiotics from a veterinarian to treat a uti.

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) – caused by bacteria and leads to symptoms like increased frequency of urination, straining, and blood in the urine. UTIs can usually be treated with antibiotics prescribed by a vet (https://wagwalking.com/condition/pyuria).
  • Crystals or stones – crystalline structures that form in the urinary tract from mineral salts. Struvite and calcium oxalate stones are most common. Treatment may include prescription diets, medications, or surgery (https://www.hillspet.com/health-conditions/dog/dog-urinary).
  • Diabetes – elevated glucose levels in the blood can lead to glucose spilling into the urine. Diabetic dogs need insulin therapy and a specialized diet (https://wagwalking.com/condition/diabetes-mellitus).

If a vet detects any issues based on the urine sample, they will discuss treatment options with you. This may include medications like antibiotics or steroids, therapeutic foods, surgery, or lifestyle changes. Follow your vet’s recommendations closely to help resolve the underlying problem.

Prevention

There are several steps you can take to help keep your dog’s urinary system healthy and prevent UTIs:

Diet – Feed your dog a high quality diet and make sure they have access to plenty of fresh, clean water. Increased water intake helps dilute urine and flush bacteria from the urinary tract. Some supplements like cranberry and D-mannose may help prevent UTIs by preventing bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, but discuss with your vet before using.

Exercise – Regular exercise helps stimulate the bladder muscles and fully empty the bladder each time. Taking your dog on consistent daily walks can help prevent urine retention and bacteria growth.

Annual vet visit – Your vet can check for signs of urinary problems during annual wellness exams. They may recommend bloodwork to check kidney function and urine analysis to check for infection.

Spay/neuter – Altering your dog can reduce hormone-related urinary issues. Discuss the ideal age for this surgery with your veterinarian.

Sanitation – Keep your home and yard clean. Bacteria can enter the urethra from contaminated floors or soil. Frequently wash dog beds and bowls.

Prompt treatment – If you notice signs of a UTI like frequent urination, bloody urine or straining, see your vet right away. Treating early can prevent the infection from worsening.

a dog drinking fresh water from a bowl.

Conclusion

In conclusion, following your veterinarian’s recommendations for timing when collecting a urine sample from your dog is very important. Samples collected at the right time can provide the most accurate results and avoid contamination. This allows vets to make the proper diagnosis and start the right treatments sooner for your dog’s health.

It’s best not to collect a sample right after walks, meals, or drinking water, as this can skew the results. Instead, work with your vet to identify the optimal windows based on your dog’s routine. While challenging at times, collecting a urine sample when advised is an easy way you can assist in providing the best care for your furry companion.

Overall, a well-timed urine sample allows vets to check for indicators of disease and ensure your dog stays happy and healthy. When your vet requests a sample, do your best to collect during the recommended window. A timely, uncontaminated urine sample can benefit your dog greatly by enabling vets to provide the right treatments and medical care.

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