What is a urinalysis test?
Urinalysis is one of the most commonly performed diagnostic tests in the veterinary clinic. It is actually a panel of tests that are performed on the urine sample. It gives you a lot of information about your pet's health, providing veterinarians with information about both general well being as well as specific illnesses. Below you can find information about what each of the urinalysis test results means.
What do the results mean?
Urine Protein to Creatinine Ratio (UPCR)
UPCR is less than 0.5 in healthy cats and dogs. The value of UPCR is obtained by dividing the amount of protein detected in the urine by the amount creatinine in the urine. A value between 0.5 and 1.0 could be dehydration or a more serious condition. Values over 1.0 are abnormal. The UPCR is also important because it helps veterinarians determine if the urine sample used for testing will provide accurate results. If an abnormal UCPR is determined, you may be asked to submit another sample from your pet for analysis.
A healthy animal does not have much protein in their urine. The concentration of protein in the urine depends on whether the animal is dehydrated or not. A high protein concentration in an animal that is not dehydrated indicates kidney disease.
Creatinine is a waste product that is produced as part of your pet's metabolic processes. Healthy kidneys remove creatinine from the blood and move it into urine. Creatinine is reported as a concentration, so if your pet is dehydrated, the value can be higher than expected.
Specific gravity indicates the amount of material that is not water in urine. It provides information about how well your pet's kidneys can concentrate or dilute urine. The specific gravity in healthy cats is in the range of 1.001-1.085 and for healthy dogs, the healthy range is 1.001-1.075, Values outside of these ranges indicate that the animal may be dehydrated or may have kidney issues. Other tests that are part of the urinalysis panel help the veterinarian determine what the issue may be.
The normal range for dogs and cats is 6.0-7.5. Values outside of this range suggest that your pet may be sick or may be on a special diet that affects the urine pH. Discuss your pet's diet along with any symptoms you notice with your veterinarian when the pH is outside of the normal range.
High glucose levels in urine are caused by stress, kidney dysfunction, or diabetes. Obtaining urine samples at home is generally less stressful for animals, and the results may be very different from glucose tests run at the veterinary clinic for some animals.
The amount of ketones in the urine of healthy cats and dogs is very low. Ketones in urine suggests a change in the animal's metabolism from carbohydrates to fats. In smaller animals, this change is one indicator of diabetes, but it is not definitive. The presence of ketones can also be caused by malnutrition.
This molecule is a by-product of bilirubin. Bacteria in your pet's intestines make it from bilirubin. In healthy animals, a small amount of urobilinogen makes its way into the blood stream and gets filtered out into urine. High levels of urobilinogen in urine can be caused by anemia, some parasites, zinc or onion toxicity, liver disease, or bile duct obstruction.
The bilirubin test measures how well an animal's bile ducts are functioning. A small amount of bilirubin can be present in healthy dogs and cats, and may be detected in dilute urine samples.
Urine is normally sterile, so the presence of bacteria, yeast, or fungus is never natural. However, using the "free catch" technique, urine samples can be contaminated by micro-organisms that live on your pet's fur. That is why when bacteria is seen in urine, a culture & sensitivity test should be run to determine the species of bacteria and the antibiotic resistance. If it is normal flora, your pet may not need treatment. But if pathogens are found, the veterinarians will know which correct antibiotic to prescribe based on the test results.
White Blood Cells (WBC)
Normal urine may have 0-5 white blood cells per high powered field (/HPF) when looked at under a microscope. The presence of higher amounts of white blood cells in urine suggests that the animal has an infection.
Red Blood Cells (RBC)
Up to 5 red blood cells may be detected per high powered field (/HPF) in urine when it is examined under a microscope. Higher amounts of red blood cells in urine can be indicative of many different diseases and requires additional testing.
A small amount of mucus in urine is generally normal. Large amounts of mucus suggests a urinary tract infection, but can also be caused by some diseases.
Casts are particles that are formed inside of the kidneys. Depending on the size and shape of the cast, 1-2 may be seen when looking at normal urine with a lower powered field (/LPF) lens under a microscope. Larger quantities of casts in urine indicate kidney disease.
Crystals in urine samples are frequently seen. The amount, size, and shape of the crystals determines whether the animal may have a disease. Struvite and calcium oxalate dihydride crystals suggest the animal is sick. Ammonium biurate and uric acid crystals sometimes indicate liver disease, but it depends on the species of cat or dog.
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