Whether for a wellness exam or a health issue, at some point, your vet will need you to collect a dog urine sample. This task can be daunting. After all, how do you get your dog to cooperate? With these simple tips and a little training, you can collect urine samples without stressing your pet or yourself.
What is Urinalysis?
A valuable diagnostic tool, urinalysis is a laboratory test that provides a report on the physical and chemical properties of a dog’s pee. For example, it can detect the presence of blood in the urine or measure the urine’s concentration. Although urinalysis is mainly used to check on the kidneys and urinary system, it can also help diagnose other illnesses such as diabetes and urinary tract infections.
There are times when your vet will want to extract urine directly from your dog’s bladder. In that case, they might insert a catheter through the urinary tract. Alternatively, they will employ a procedure known as cystocentesis, which involves locating your dog’s bladder with an ultrasound and inserting a thin needle to extract the urine. If you are unable to get a urine sample from your dog on your own, your vet can always use one of these procedures. However, if acceptable to the vet, a free-catch sample— where you let your dog pee as usual and catch their urine— is the least stressful for your pet.
Getting a Clean Urine Sample
Although cystocentesis or catheterization supply uncontaminated urine samples, free-catch samples should still be as clean as possible. Do not mop up urine from the floor or grass after the fact. That will lead to contamination from the environment. Instead, collect the urine, preferably mid-stream, in a clean container as your dog pees. In addition, try to complete your collection in the morning, when your pet’s urine is at its most concentrated.
Once you have the dog urine sample, transfer it to a clean container with a lid. You only need a tablespoon or two for the urinalysis. Cover the sample and label the container with your pet’s name, then take it to your veterinarian as soon as possible, preferably within a few hours. If you cannot take it in immediately, place the sample in the refrigerator until you can drop it off.
Tips for Collecting Your Dog’s Urine
The following tips will make sample collection as easy and stress-free as possible:
- Take your dog outside on a short leash to pee. That will keep your pup close beside you, so you will not have to chase them around the yard and miss your opportunity.
- Wear rubber gloves, especially since you may need to get in close for an accurate catch, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after collection.
- For leg lifters, use a cup, jar, or leftover dish. Simply place it in the stream when your dog lifts their leg.
- For dogs who squat, use a flat, low-sided container like an aluminum pie plate. You can slide it under your dog once they start to go.
- Try slipping a ladle under your dog and into the stream.
- Work with a partner. While you hold the leash, somebody else can get behind or beside your dog and sneak a sample.
If your dog likes to have bathroom privacy and gets nervous when you approach, try being stealthy. For example, tape the ladle to a yard stick so you do not have to bend over your dog to collect their pee. Or push the pie plate under them with your foot or a stick so you do not have to get too close. Use whatever provides you with a bit of distance, so you do not have to hover over your dog and scare them.
Training Your Dog for Urine Sample Collection
There are a few training tips that can help the urine collection process go smoothly. These are particularly useful if you need to collect regular samples. First, desensitize your dog to the collection container. If your dog has never seen an aluminum pie plate before, chances are they will balk when you pull one out while they are going to the bathroom. You can place the container beside their food dish for a few days or pair it with treats or petting several times. That way, when you present the container for urine collection, your dog should be more comfortable with it.
Second, you can help your companion get used to your presence when they are going to the bathroom. If you always let your dog outside on their own to pee, they will not feel comfortable if you are bending over them at collection time. Instead, for a week or two before collection, simply spend time beside your dog when they are peeing. Go back to potty training basics and praise your dog and reward them afterwards to teach them it is okay to pee while you are near. This can be easy to do while out on walks. Or you can take your dog out in the yard while they are on a short leash.
Third, you can train your dog to pee on cue. That will help you control when they are going to go, so you can collect urine at your convenience. It also helps your dog know what you expect from them, even though you will be behaving strangely in collecting their urine. If you combine all three of these training tips, you should be able to collect your dog’s pee with canine cooperation, instead of struggling to collect even a drop.