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Urinalysis Results

What Substances are Detected by the Chemical Analysis of Urine?
  • Protein - The presence of protein in urine is called proteinuria. Mild proteinuria in concentrated urine may not be cause for concern, but proteinuria in dilute urine should be investigated since it may signal developing kidney disease. The significance of proteinuria is often determined by doing a second test called the protein:creatinine ratio.

  • Glucose (sugar) - Glucose should not be present in the urine of healthy cats and dogs. The presence of large amounts of glucose usually indicates the pet has diabetes mellitus. Small amounts of glucose in the urine may also be found in pets with kidney disease.

  • Ketones - Ketones appear in urine whenever the body breaks down excessive amounts of stored fat to meet its energy needs. This occurs most frequently in diabetes mellitus, but can also be found in healthy animals during prolonged fasting or starvation.​

  • Urobilinogen - The presence of urobilinogen in urine indicates that the bile duct is open and that bile can flow from the gall bladder into the intestine. A negative urobilinogen result has no interpretation and does not mean the bile duct is obstructed.

Vetscan SA UA Results Printout Urinalysis
  • Bilirubin - Bilirubin is a substance that is produced in the liver and normally excreted in the bile. Bilirubin is not found in the urine of healthy cats but may be found in small quantities in the urine of healthy dogs. Abnormal amounts of bilirubin in the urine are associated with liver disease or red blood cell destruction (“hemolysis”), and should always be investigated.

  • Blood - Blood in the urine usually indicates there is bleeding somewhere in the urinary system. Sometimes this is due to how the sample was collected; for example, small amounts of blood are often found in samples collected by cystocentesis or catheterization. Blood in the urine is associated with diseases such as bacterial infection, bladder stones, trauma, or cancer, so if blood in the urine does not appear to be due to the sampling method, further investigation is recommended.

    • A positive reading for blood can also be seen with a disease called hemolytic anemia, in which red blood cells are destroyed and a protein called hemoglobin is released. Hemoglobin passes into the urine and causes the blood test pad to show positive, even though there is no actual bleeding in the urinary system.

    • Occasionally the blood test pad will show positive for blood when there is muscle inflammation or injury. This is because damaged muscle fibers release a protein called myoglobin, which is very similar to hemoglobin. Myoglobin will also cause the blood test pad to show positive, even though there is no actual bleeding in the urinary system.  A specific test for myoglobin can be done if muscle injury is suspected.

What Do Changes in Color and Turbidity (cloudiness) Mean?
Colored and Cloudy Urine turbidity urinary tract infection crystals sediment

Normal urine is a pale yellow to light amber and is generally clear to slightly cloudy. Urine that is dark yellow usually suggests the pet needs a drink of water or may be dehydrated. Urine that is very pale yellow or clear suggests the pet is drinking a lot of water and urinating frequently; this may signal underlying kidney disease or a disorder that interferes with the pet’s ability to pass concentrated urine. Urine that is any color other than yellow (for example orange, red, or brown) may contain substances not normally found in healthy urine and may reflect injury or underlying disease.

Increased turbidity or cloudiness indicates that there are cells or other solid material in the urine. Examination of the sediment will determine what is present and whether it is significant. Increased turbidity is typically associated with the presence of blood, inflammatory cells, crystals, mucus, or debris.

What is Specific Gravity and How Does it Help Detect Disease?

It may help to think of urine specific gravity as the density of the urine. A healthy kidney should produce dense (concentrated) urine, while watery (dilute) urine may signal an underlying disease.

One of the kidney's jobs is to maintain the body's water level within relatively narrow limits. If there is an excess of water in the body, then the kidneys allow the excess water to pass out in the urine, and the urine becomes more watery or dilute. If there is a shortage of water in the body (as in dehydration), then the kidneys reduce the amount of water lost in urine, and the pet passes more concentrated urine.

Normal animals may pass dilute urine from time to time during the day, and a single dilute urine sample is not necessarily a cause for concern. If a pet continues to pass dilute urine, then there could be underlying kidney or metabolic disease and further investigation is recommended.

What is Urine pH and Why is it Measured?

Urine pH is a measure of how acidic or alkaline the urine is. The pH can change with diet, but can also signal the presence of infection or metabolic disease. Normal urine in the cat and dog ranges from mildly acidic to mildly alkaline. Extremes in urine pH beyond this range are more likely to be associated with disease.

What Can be Found in a Urinary Sediment and What do They Mean?

Urine sediment is the material that "sediments" out or settles into the bottom of the tube when a urine sample is spun in a centrifuge. The most common things found in urine sediment are red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals, bacteria, and tissue cells from different parts of the urinary system. Small amounts of mucus and miscellaneous debris are often found in free-catch samples. Rarely, parasite eggs are found in urine.

  • Red Blood Cells - Small numbers of red blood cells are often found in urine collected by cystocentesis or catheterization, but large numbers of red blood cells usually indicate bleeding. This may be caused by conditions such as bladder stones, infection, coagulation problems, trauma, cancer, etc.

  • White Blood Cells- Small numbers of white blood cells in a free-catch sample may not be significant, but in general, an increased number of white blood cells indicates inflammation somewhere in the urinary system. Inflammation is often secondary to bacterial infection.

  • Bacteria - The presence of both bacteria and inflammatory cells in the sediment indicates there is likely bacterial infection somewhere in the urinary system. Ideally, the urine should be sent to the laboratory for culture and sensitivity testing to find out what types of bacteria are present and which antibiotic should be used to treat the infection. Bacterial rods are more easily identified than bacterial cocci.

  • Epithelial (Tissue) Cells - Increased numbers of tissue cells are often seen in samples collected by catheterization. While this is not a sign of disease, increased cellularity can be seen with a variety of disorders, including urinary tract inflammation, bladder stones, prostate problems (in the male dog), cancer, etc. If the cells look abnormal, your veterinarian may recommend a cytological preparation of the sediment, which allows for a more detailed examination of the tissue cells.

  • Casts - Urinary casts are cylindrical molds formed in the lumens of the renal tubules. They are primarily composed of a mucoprotein secreted by renal tubule cells. Concentrated urine, decreased urine flow, and acidic urine favors the formation of casts. Cells and other material (lipid, crystals) may be integrated into casts, changing their appearance and how they are characterized.

  • Crystals - are many different types of crystals and they vary in size, shape, and color. The significance of crystals also varies. Some crystals are unique and help to pinpoint a specific diagnosis. In more common conditions such as bladder infection and bladder stones, the crystals provide information that can influence how the disease is managed.

    ​Crystals in the urine do not always indicate disease. Some crystals form when a pet is given certain types of medications. Crystals can also form in urine after it has been collected, especially if there is a long delay before the urinalysis is done. If this happens, the veterinarian may wish to examine a fresh sample immediately after it has been collected to determine if the crystals are significant.

    • Struvite crystals may be observed in neutral to alkaline urine of dogs and cats. These crystals can form in vitro in stored, uncovered urine.

    • Calcium oxalate dihydrate (weddellite) crystals may be observed in healthy animals (Figure 13). They may also be present with calcium oxalate monohydrate (whewellite) crystals—which are not found in healthy animals, but in patients with ethylene glycol poisoning.

    • Ammonium biurate crystals are indicative of liver disease or portosystemic shunts in cats and dogs. These crystals and uric acid crystals may be present in dalmatians due to a defect in purine metabolism.

    • Bilirubin crystals are occasionally observed in the urine of healthy dogs, but always represent an abnormal finding in cats.