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Reading the ‘Pee Leaves’
Did you know that the manner in which your dog defecates—or does not—can reveal useful details about their urinary and even general health? This post will highlight some of the indications that a trip to the vet may be necessary when your dog poop.
Dog Straining While Peeing
When your dog is urinating, if they are stumbling or straining, it may truly be a very critical emergency condition. A urinary stone, scarring, inflammation, or even a tumor can obstruct a dog’s urethra, which is the tube connecting the bladder to the outside world. This condition can affect both male and female dogs. An excessively enlarged prostate in male dogs can also cause a urethral blockage; this condition is more common in unneutered male dogs since testosterone stimulates prostate growth. If you notice your dog struggling to urinate, you should always err on the side of caution and take them to the doctor right away. Your dog will appreciate the fact that you had them tested to be sure, even if they are not “blocked.”
Dribbling or Leaking Urine (after peeing or even when just laying down)
The age of the dog is frequently a factor in the cause of urine dribbling. Puppy health issues are more likely to be caused by a birth defect in their anatomy. Two of the most frequent are a “ectopic ureter (on one or both of the ureters, the tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder), and a “patent urachus (essentially dribbling out of their “belly button from a ligament that didn’t correctly regress). The urethral sphincter, a muscle that helps keep urine in the bladder until the dog is ready to let it out, is frequently more of a problem in mature and older dogs. Of fact, dogs of all ages can get urinary tract infections, which can cause urine to drip. In either case, your veterinarian should assess chronic dribbling. Although it usually isn’t an emergency, you shouldn’t let it last for too long.
PRO HINT: It’s useful to be able to explain to the vet whether your dog dribbles urine only while they’re lying down or sleepy, or also when they’re wandering around or even right after they urinate normally. Additionally, if your dog appears to have “conscious control over their urethral sphincter, which is actually fairly straightforward to test,” it would be beneficial if you could let your veterinarian know. The next time your dog is peeing, startle them and watch to see whether they can “shut off the stream when startled.” You don’t need to try to scare the crap out of them—a that’s whole other test!—just give them a simple clap, say their name, or even give them a light tap on the back will suffice.
Oh, and speaking of “other tests,” canine marijuana poisoning, which is becoming more and more common, can also result in unexpected dribbling of the pee. Find out more about canine CBD and marijuana use.
Discolored Dog Urine
Dog urine should typically be yellow. Based on your dog’s hydration level and a few other parameters, the “shade of yellow can typically range from pale or “straw-colored to amber, but it should still be yellow. (Urochrome, a metabolite and byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells, gives urine its yellow hue.) What some of the “urine’s non-yellow colors could indicate is as follows:
- Canine feces that is orange, or “Jaundice or icterus, which is caused by an excess of the pigment from the interior of red blood cells in the body, is frequently indicated by orangish skin. This could be caused by a problem with the red blood cells themselves, something causing an abnormal breakdown of the red blood cells, a problem with the liver or some of the other organs and tissues around the liver, including the pancreas. Dehydration, the foods your dog is eating, or any drugs they are taking could possibly be to blame. In any case, due to the first stated potentially very hazardous causes, a sudden appearance of orange or “Urine that is orange-colored requires an immediate visit to the vet.
Check your dog’s gums, the whites of their eyes, and the interior of their ear flaps if their urine is orange. There’s a good likelihood that those structures will also appear to have a yellowish discoloration.
- Red: If your dog’s urine is red or pink, it signifies that blood—either red blood cells in their entirety or the pigment contained within them—is present in it. Inflammation and/or infection of the urinary system are a few of the most typical reasons of red or pink-colored, cloudy urine in dogs (anywhere from the kidneys to the end of the urethra). Other potential causes include bladder tumors, stones, injuries, foreign items (like foxtails… OUCH!! ), bleeding issues, and trauma (like from rat poison, cancer, liver failure, dysfunctional or too few blood platelets, and other possible causes). If there is a lot of red staining or if your dog is acting in any other way abnormally, you should take them to the doctor right once.
- Brownor Black: If you notice that your dog’s pee is brown or black, it most likely signifies that their muscles have suffered serious damage (like from trauma, prolonged seizures, or even from a metaldehyde-based slug and snail bait poisoning). It might also mean that you’ve consumed too much acetaminophen, which is the main component of Excedrin, Tylenol, and a number of other medicines. Your dog needs an immediate trip to the clinic if you notice brown or black urine from them.
What shade is a dog with kidney failure peeing?
One of my blog posts from a few months ago covered the numerous reasons why we need to look at your pet’s excrement every year. Examination of your pet’s urine is just as crucial as examination of their feces. Please believe me when I say that we are not enamored with your pet’s bodily functions. We are particularly interested in learning how the kidneys and urinary system, which includes the bladder, are working when it comes to your pet’s urine. You wouldn’t believe how much a few ounces of the yellow substance may reveal.
The kidneys function as a filter, taking waste materials and other metabolic substances out of your pet’s blood. Without getting too technical with the biology, waste moves from the kidneys down the ureters into the bladder where it is stored until your pet urinates. Sediment, one of the numerous things the whole urinalysis will test for, is contained in the urine your pet excretes. Later, more on this.
The health of the cells and a number of the urinary tract’s structures will be revealed by the sediment. The comprehensive urinalysis will also provide us with details about the functioning of the kidney’s individual parts, the metabolic and fluid state of your pet, and a check for any additional compounds that might point to an underlying illness.
How do you collect the urine?
At least for dogs, this step of the procedure is perhaps the least scientific. The “free catch” method, in which we use a sizable soup ladle (or something similar) to collect the sample while your dog defecates, is what we’ll employ for the majority of our dog samples. The sample is then put into a pee tube or sample jar and delivered to the lab for analysis. You might be thinking that this sample is not “sterile.” You are correct; the sample is not entirely sterile despite the cleanness of the ladle. Since we are unable to clean a dog’s penis or vulva, urine that has gone through their entire system, including the urethra, may get contaminated with bacteria that are unrelated to a true bladder infection. A naturally obtained urine sample, often known as a “free catch” or “voided sample,” is always subject to bacterial contamination.
Typically, we attempt to extract a sterile urine sample directly from the bladder (a procedure known as a “cystocentesis”) using the ultrasound as a guide. The sample obtained by cystocentesis provides a more accurate picture of what is happening inside your pet and the location of the problem in the urinary tract. If there are bacteria present in this sample, a bladder infection has actually occurred. Depending on their disposition, most pets tolerate this sample collecting approach well.
Rarely, we may decide to catheterize your pet in order to collect their pee; however, this is typically done while your pet is sedated in order to keep them comfortable. Your pet should feel as comfortable as we can during this.
During your appointment, a urine culture and sensitivity may also be required to identify the type of bacteria that is growing in your pet’s bladder. The sensitivity helps us determine which antibiotic will treat your pet’s infection the best based on the bacteria. Pets with bladder stones and/or urinary tract infections benefit the most from the urine culture and sensitivity test. Prior to several procedures, we also advise performing urinalysis, urine culture, and sensitivity tests.
What are you looking for?
The color is the most simple thing to examine. It’s not like searching for a precise shade of yellow at your local paint store. The colors are typically divided into three categories.
Clear to bright yellow visibility is what we seek. This shows that your pet is hydrating properly. While clear urine could indicate your pet is consuming too much water or is unable to concentrate their urine, which could be a symptom of danger, some yellow is healthy because that implies your pet is doing so.
Bright or dark yellow feces from your pet are most frequently the result of dehydration or other kidney-related problems. It could result from various medical disorders or a lack of sufficient drinking water. Consult your veterinarian straight away if you find that your pet’s urine is vivid or dark yellow.
Urine that is brown, orange, or reddish-pink is also problematic. The body of your pet may create the protein known as myoglobin if they have been injured or are under stress for any other cause. This protein is released from your pet’s muscles and is eliminated through their urine, which, depending on the concentration, turns brown or an orange hue.
Your pet’s urine may also be stained by other conditions such kidney/bladder stones, infections, and blood that results from those conditions. Your pet’s urine may have a brown or pinkish tint if there is blood in the urinary tract. You should visit your veterinarian.
When performing a full urinalysis, we’ll also check the following things:
What is Specific Gravity and how does it help detect disease?
Consider urine specific gravity as the pee’s density to make sense of it. Dense (concentrated) urine from a healthy kidney should be produced, however watery (dilute) urine may indicate an underlying condition.
Maintaining the body’s water level within relatively small bounds is one of the kidney’s functions. The kidneys allow the extra water to leave the body through the urine, which causes the urine to become more watery or diluted. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys reduce the amount of water lost in urine, which causes the pet to pass more concentrated urine.
A single sample of diluted urine need not raise alarm; normal animals occasionally pass this type of urine throughout the day.
Further testing is advised if a pet’s urine remains diluted as there may be an underlying kidney or metabolic issue.
What is urine pH and why is it measured?
The pH of urine serves as a gauge for the urine’s acidity or alkalinity. Diet can alter pH, but it might also indicate an infection or metabolic disorder. Both cats and dogs typically have urine that is either slightly acidic or slightly alkaline. Beyond this range, urine pH extremes are more likely to be a sign of illness.
How is the chemical analysis of the urine performed?
A dipstick, a short piece of plastic that contains several separate test pads, is used to analyze the chemical composition of urine. The color of each test pad changes to represent the amount of a different chemical component in the urine. The test pads’ color is compared to a chart that converts the color’s intensity to a precise measurement after the dipstick is briefly dipped into the urine.
What substances are detected by the chemical analysis of urine?
Proteinuria is a condition in which there is protein in the urine. Proteinuria in dilute urine should be addressed since it may indicate the onset of renal disease. Mild proteinuria in concentrated urine may not be cause for alarm. The protein/creatinine ratio, a second test, is frequently used to assess the seriousness of proteinuria.
Healthy cats and dogs shouldn’t have glucose in their urine. Large quantities of glucose are typically a sign of diabetes mellitus in pets. In pets with renal illness, trace quantities of glucose may also be discovered in the urine.
When the body breaks down excessive amounts of stored fat to meet its energy needs, ketones are released into the urine. However, it can also be seen in healthy animals during extended fasting or famine. It happens most frequently in diabetes mellitus.
The presence of blood in the urine typically suggests that the urinary system is bleeding. This can also be attributed to the method used to get the sample; for instance, samples obtained during cystocentesis or catheterization frequently contain minute amounts of blood. If blood in the urine does not appear to be the result of the sample technique, additional research is advised since blood in the urine is linked to disorders including bacterial infection, bladder stones, trauma, or cancer.
Additionally, an illness called hemolytic anemia, in which red blood cells are damaged and a protein called hemoglobin is released, can result in a positive blood test result. Even if there isn’t any actual bleeding in the urinary system, hemoglobin flows through the urine and makes the blood test pad come out positive.
Occasionally, when there is muscle inflammation or damage, the blood test pad will indicate a positive result for blood. This is due to the production of a protein called myoglobin, which is strikingly similar to hemoglobin, by injured muscle fibers. Even though there isn’t any actual bleeding in the urinary system, myoglobin will lead the blood test pad to come back positive. If a suspected muscle damage exists, a particular myoglobin test can be performed.
Urobilinogen is a sign that the bile duct is open and that bile can move from the gall bladder into the intestine when it is present in urine. The absence of an interpretation for a negative urobilinogen result does not imply that the bile duct is blocked.
A chemical called bilirubin is created in the liver and often eliminated by bile.
Healthy cats’ urine does not contain bilirubin, however healthy dogs’ urine may contain a small amount of the substance. Bilirubin levels that are unusually high in the urine should always be looked into since they may indicate liver illness or “hemolysis,” which is the breakdown of red blood cells.
What sorts of things can be found in a urinary sediment and what do they mean?
Red blood cells, white blood cells, crystals, bacteria, and tissue cells from various areas of the urinary system are the most frequent components of urine sediment. In free-catch samples, tiny quantities of mucous and other detritus are frequently discovered. Urine occasionally has parasite eggs in it.
Large levels of red blood cells typically suggest bleeding, but small numbers of red blood cells are frequently observed in urine collected via cystocentesis or catheterization. This could be brought on by ailments like cancer, trauma, coagulation issues, bladder stones, infections, etc.
Small white blood cell counts in a free-catch sample might not be meaningful, but in general, a higher white blood cell count implies urinary tract inflammation. Bacterial infection frequently leads to inflammation.
The presence of bacteria and inflammatory cells in the sediment suggests that the urinary system likely has a bacterial infection someplace. The urine should ideally be sent to the lab for culture and sensitivity testing to identify the types of bacteria present and the appropriate medication to treat the infection.
Crystals can be found in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Crystal importance also varies. Unique crystals can aid in identifying a particular disease. The crystals offer information that can affect how the disease is treated in more prevalent disorders including bladder infections and bladder stones.
Urine crystals are not necessarily a sign of illness. Some crystals can develop after administering specific drugs to a pet. Additionally, once the urine has been collected, crystals might develop, particularly if there is a significant delay until the urinalysis is performed. If this occurs, the veterinarian may want to check a new sample as soon as it is taken to see if the crystals are substantial.
In samples obtained by catheterization, an increase in the number of tissue cells is frequently observed. Although this is not a disease sign, increased cellularity can be found with a number of illnesses, including cancer, bladder stones, prostate issues (in male dogs), inflammation of the urinary system, and more. Your veterinarian can advise acytological preparation of the sediment, which enables a more thorough inspection of the tissue cells, if the cells appear abnormal.
Sometimes, none of the items on this list actually interests us. To diagnose or rule out a certain condition or sickness, we may occasionally just be seeking a limited amount of information. Similar to a fecal test, a full urinalysis should be performed once a year to help us identify any potential problems early on.