Many pet wellness plans include annual pet urinalysis tests, but what exactly does this mean?
A urinalysis test can catch all sorts of health issues within our animals such as urinary tract infections, kidney and bladder health, as well as some information about our animal’s glucose regulation and liver functions.
What Is A Urinalysis Test
Vets do regular urinalysis tests on our animals to test their overall urinary tract health. This includes both the kidneys and the bladder. The urine is evaluated should always be a clean sample. There are a few ways a veterinarian will test your pet’s urine:
Vets usually collect a clean urine sample by cystocentesis. This is a diagnostic procedure where the vet places a small needle attached to a syringe directly into the lumen of the bladder and collects a urine sample. This is the best pain-free way for vets to collect sterile and uncontaminated samples.
This is when the vet uses a small piece of plastic with chemically impregnated pads that change color depending on whether the urine contains certain substances. The dipstick can determine:
- Acidity: In healthy pets, the urine pH is typically in the 6.5 to 7.0 range.
- Specific Gravity: Animals who drink less water will have low specific gravity, so their urine is more diluted.
- Protein: A positive test for protein in the urine may be an indication of a bacterial infection.
- Sugar: The presence of sugar in the urine may be a red flag for underlying Diabetes mellitus.
- Ketones: If your pet tests positive for ketones in its urine, a medical workup for Diabetes Mellitus should be performed.
- Bilirubin: It can be found in pets with liver disease and autoimmune diseases.
- Blood: Blood in the urine may be indicative of an infection, inflammatory problem, or stones in the bladder or kidney.
The vet will always examine the urine for color and clarity. If the urine is red or brown this could indicate blood in the urine. Burnt orange urine suggests a potential infection or protein might be present in the urine. Cloudy urine might suggest an infection or protein in the urine. While it may sound simple to visually check the urine, this can give the vet a lot of hints towards potential issues.
Once a urine sample is collected the vet will also evaluate it microscopically because the dipstick might not reveal the whole picture. To evaluate urine it must be centrifuged, which means it is spun down at an extremely high speed. This helps all the abnormal cells (sediment) deposit into the bottom of the test tube. In healthy urine the vet technician will only see a few red and white blood cells, the more they see the more evaluation the urine requires. Under the microscope, the vet can find things like:
- White Blood Cells: may be a sign of an infection or an inflammatory process within the bladder or kidney.
- Red Blood Cells: red blood cells in the urine in pets with bladder or kidney infections, bladder or kidney stones, interstitial cystitis, or cancer within the urinary tract system.
- Bacteria: may be an indication of an infection.
- Crystals: If the number of crystals in the urine is dramatic the vet may recommend a radiograph or ultrasound of your pet’s abdomen to look for bladder or kidney stones.
Pet wellness plans cover routine urinalysis and other exams like bloodwork, fecal exams, and parasite protection. But if your vet finds something suspicious in the urine and recommended ultrasounds, radiographs then this might not be covered. This is why you might consider a coverage plan that includes pet health insurance and pet wellness. You can mix and match coverage with Wagmo to find the right pet health insurance plan for you.
It is recommended that we get our pets urine tract testing routinely every year. If your animal is showing any of the following symptoms consider bringing them in for an exam:
- Increased water intake
- Increased urination frequency
- Pain while urination
- Visible blood in the urine
Wagmo pet wellness plans will cover routine examinations as well as routine grooming and dental care - the expected. It is important to also consider pet health insurance for the unexpected, like injury or illness. Take Wagmo’s coverage quiz and find the right pet health insurance plan and pet wellness plan for you and your furry friend.