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What is a Urinalysis?

Urinalysis is a routine test that reports the physical and chemical properties of urine. It is used mainly to assess the health of the kidneys and urinary system, but it can also reveal problems in other organ systems, and is important for diagnosing metabolic disease such as diabetes mellitus. It is a valuable test in both healthy and sick animals and should be included in any comprehensive evaluation of a pet's health.

How Are Urine Samples Collected?

There are three main ways to collect urine in cats and dogs.

  1. Cystocentesis: A sterile needle and syringe are used to collect urine from the bladder. The needle is passed through the abdominal wall into a full bladder and urine is withdrawn directly into the sterile syringe. The advantage of cystocentesis is that the urine is not contaminated by miscellaneous debris from the lower urinary passage. This type of sample is ideal for assessing the bladder and kidneys and for detecting bacterial infection. The disadvantages of cystocentesis are that the method is slightly more invasive than other methods and it is difficult to do in patients that are uncooperative.

  2. Catheterization: A very narrow sterile catheter is passed up the lower urinary passage (called the urethra) into the bladder. A sterile syringe is attached to the catheter and urine is withdrawn from the bladder into the syringe. The technique is less invasive than cystocentesis and is a good option when a voluntary sample is not available, especially in a male dog. Catheterization causes mild irritation to the urethra and may carry bacteria from the urethra into the bladder.

  3. Mid-stream free-flow: Urine is voided voluntarily by the pet in the usual way and a sample is collected into a sterile container as the pet urinates. Ideally, the sample is collected mid-stream, meaning partway through urination. This type of sample is often called a “free-flow” or “free catch” sample. The advantages of this method are that it is completely non-invasive, and the pet owner can collect the urine sample at home. The disadvantages are that it may be difficult to collect a sample in mid-stream from some pets, and the urine is more likely to be contaminated by miscellaneous debris from the urethra or the environment.

How is a Urinalysis Performed?

There are four parts to a urinalysis:

  1. Assess appearance: color and turbidity (cloudiness).

  2. Measure concentration (‘density’) of the urine.  

  3. Measure pH (acidity) and analyze the chemical composition of the urine.

  4. Examine the cells and solid material present in the urine using a microscope.

Our in-house laboratory analyzers by Abaxis only require a relatively small sample from your pet and analysis takes as little as 15 minutes and also provides a printout with the results as well as pictures of anything abnormal found in the sediment.

VETSCAN UA urinalysis tools urine analyses
  • UA Analyzer - performs the chemical analysis of the urine which includes: 

    • Leukocytes

    • Ketones

    • Nitrite

    • Urobilinogen

    • Glucose

    • Protein

    • pH

    • Specific Gravity

    • Blood

VETSCAN SA Sediment Analyzer urinary infection kidney disease detection diabetes illness
  • SA Analyser - takes a close look at urine sediment and provides pictures that can be printed out for our clients to see. What we are most often looking for:

    • Blood Cells - Red and White Blood Cells

    • Bacteria - Rods and Cocci

    • Epithelial Cells - Squamous and Non-squamous Epithelial Cells

    • Casts - Hyaline and Non-hyaline Casts

    • Crystals - Calcium Oxalate and Struvite Crystals

University of Minnesota UofM College of Veterinary medicine urolith analysis bladder stone struvite calcium oxalate crystals
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