Urine Testing – What to Know & Expect

Urine tests can provide information about the kidneys, bladder, liver, pancreas, and other organs. Testing may be repeated in intervals (days or weeks) to confirm if abnormalities are still present. A complete urinalysis involves three different steps as described below.

Step 1 involves checking the color, turbidity (cloudiness), and specific gravity (concentration).

  • Normal urine is amber-yellow and clear to slightly cloudy. Concentrated urine is a darker yellow. Dilute urine may be colorless. Blood in the urine can give a red-brown tinge.
  • White blood cells may make the urine cloudy.
  • Specific gravity indicates how well the kidneys are able to concentrate the urine.

Step 2 involves chemical analysis using a multi-test dipstick. Some sticks only test one or two substances; others test eight or more. Some medications may interfere with these tests. The following substances are just a few of the chemicals tested:

  • Urine pH: indicates how acidic or alkaline the urine is
  • Protein: not usually in healthy urine; trace amounts may be normal or more significant in dilute urine.
  • Glucose(sugar): normal urine should be negative; tests may be repeated and/or verified with blood glucose test
  • Ketones: normal urine should be negative may indicate starvation, diabetes, other diseases
  • Bilirubin: small amounts may be in healthy dog urine (but not cat urine); may indicate liver disease, bile ductobstruction, or abnormal destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis)
  • Urobilinogen: small amounts in urine are normal
  • Blood (hematuria): may indicate trauma, urinary tract infection, bladder stones, blood clotting problems, or other conditions
  • Nitrites: may indicate bacteria present in some infections (can show false negatives)

Step 3 involves element analysis by centrifuging a sample and a portion is examining a portion under the microscope.

  • White Blood Cells: may indicate bladder or kidney infection, bladder stones
  • Bacteria: may indicate bladder infection; culture/sensitivity test will indicate bacteria type and which antibiotics would be effective in treatment
  • Crystals: struvite, calcium oxalate, and ammonium urate are commonly found in urine. Under certain conditions crystals can clump together to form bladder stones. Not all crystals necessarily form bladder stones. Crystal type, urine pH, and other factors also play a part.
  • Casts: may indicate kidney abnormalities

To be familiar with our expectations and processes, we encourage you to also read our Terms and Conditions and Client Preparation Guide.