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What Is Urinalysis For Dogs?

9 mins |

Are you a dog owner, and a veterinarian has recommended a urinalysis for your dog? You must be wondering what urinalysis is for dogs. Here’s exactly what it is.

Urinalysis in dogs is the physical and chemical analysis of the dog’s urine. This includes examining urine color, turbidity, volume, pH, and specific gravity. The chemical components in urine chemistry include proteins (primarily albumin), casts, ketones, glucose, bilirubin/urobilinogen, and lastly, cells like red blood cells, white blood cells, epithelial cells, etc. This test gives useful information about kidney function and bladder health that also identifies underlying urinary tract infections. 

What Is Urinalysis?

Urinalysis for dogs is a diagnostic test that examines a dog’s urine to evaluate organ functions. More specifically, it involves analyzing the physical, chemical, and microscopic properties of the urine, including color, clarity, pH, specific gravity, and presence of protein, glucose, ketones, and other substances.

Moreover, urinalysis can help detect various health conditions, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and bladder stones.

What Parameters Does Dog Urinalysis Test?

There are several parameters dog urinalysis tests, including the following.

Color And Clarity 

Normal urine color is typically transparent or yellow. The intensity of color depends partly on the volume of urine collected and the concentration of urine. The presence of pus or blood in urine can change the color and can indicate an underlying infection or trauma.

Specific Gravity 

This is a measure of the ratio of the density of a liquid to that of water. A refractometer measures urine-specific gravity. Normal values can range from 1.001 to 1.075. This depends on whether the urine is concentrated or diluted. 

Diluted urine in a dehydrated patient is abnormal and may signal renal failure, hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, diuresis, etc. In the case of diabetes insipidus, it can show values less than 1.001.


Normal urine pH is slightly acidic. In dogs, it ranges from 6 to 6.5. If the urine gets alkaline, there is a risk of struvite crystals forming in the urine. Highly acidic pH can form crystals such as cystine. 

Presence Of Protein

Normally, proteins don’t get filtered out from the glomerulus (filtration unit) of kidneys. Proteins in the urine may indicate glomerular or tubular kidney disease. Also, proteinuria (the presence of protein in urine) has postrenal causes like inflammation, infection, and hemorrhage. 

Presence Of Glucose

Glucosuria is the excretion of glucose into urine. Normally, the kidneys can recover all the filtered glucose and reabsorb it into the bloodstream.

Therefore, kidney diseases like diabetes mellitus are almost usually to blame for glucosuria. Other causes include pancreatitis, drug reactions, and overactive adrenal glands (hyperadrenocorticism). 

Presence Of Ketones 

Ketonuria, or the presence of ketone bodies, refers to the fatty acid metabolic end products like acetone, acetoacetic acid, and hydroxybutyrate that are produced in response to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Ketonuria may indicate a low carbohydrate diet or starvation in dogs.

Presence Of Bilirubin 

Hemoglobin (the oxygen-binding protein of red blood cells) gets broken down into heme and globin portions. The end product is bilirubin, which gets conjugated in the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Bilirubinuria (bilirubin in urine) may indicate excessive hemolysis of red blood cells or liver disease. 

Presence Of Blood Or Hemoglobin 

The presence of intact red blood cells (hematuria) or hemoglobin in blood called hemoglobinuria can indicate hemorrhage or intravascular hemolysis. 

Presence Of Bacteria Or White Blood Cells

The presence of bacteria in the urine sample indicates an infection of the upper or lower urinary tract, and cystitis (infection and inflammation of the urinary bladder).

A gram stain can confirm suspected bacteria. However, aerobic culture is recommended to identify the presence of bacteria in the urine. Common bacteria causing urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs include E.coli, staphylococcus, streptococcus, klebsiella, proteus, etc. 

More than five white blood cells per field under a microscope indicates infection, active inflammation, trauma, or neoplasia of the urinary tract. 


Casts are long, cylindrical elements that can contain cells and are created when mucoproteins solidify inside renal tubules. The mucoprotein that makes up hyaline casts, which are clear, and have parallel sides and rounded ends, is a pure protein precipitate. They can appear due to a fever, exercise, or renal disease.


The presence of crystals in urine identified under a microscope can signal a possibility of bladder stones. Struvite crystals are quite common when urine becomes alkaline. 

These parameters can help identify various health conditions, such as urinary tract infections, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and bladder stones. Your veterinarian may also perform additional tests on your dog’s urine, depending on the specific situation.

Can Urinalysis Detect Urinary Tract Infections In Dogs?

A urinalysis can help identify the presence of bacteria, white blood cells, and other indicators of infection in the urine, which can suggest a UTI. UTIs are common in dogs and can cause symptoms such as frequent urination, painful urination, and blood in the urine.

In addition to a urinalysis, your veterinarian may also perform a urine culture and sensitivity test to identify the specific type of bacteria causing the infection and determine the most effective treatment. Treatment for UTIs in dogs usually involves a course of antibiotics and other supportive care as needed.

How Urinalysis Helps Detect Normal Kidney And Bladder Function In Dogs

Urinalysis is a valuable test for assessing normal kidney and bladder function in dogs. By analyzing the physical, chemical, and microscopic properties of a dog’s urine, veterinarians can gain important insights into the health of the urinary tract and function of the kidneys.

Specifically, urinalysis can help to detect the following:

  1. The concentration and volume of urine, which can indicate the body’s hydration status and the function of the kidneys.
  2. The presence of blood, hemoglobin, or crystals, which can indicate the possibility of trauma, infection, or bladder stones.
  3. The presence of protein, which can indicate glomerular or tubular kidney disease.
  4. The presence of glucose, which can indicate the presence of diabetes.
  5. The presence of bacteria, white blood cells, or red blood cells, which can indicate the presence of a urinary tract infection, inflammation, or other conditions.

By monitoring changes in these and other parameters over time, veterinarians can detect and monitor a variety of health conditions and provide appropriate treatment as needed.

How Urinalysis Can Be Helpful In Detecting Diabetes Mellitus In Dogs?

A pair of vets checking out a dog.
Getting checked out.

Urinalysis can be helpful in detecting diabetes mellitus in dogs by detecting the presence of glucose (sugar) in the urine. Normally, the kidneys filter glucose out of the blood and return it to the body for energy. However, in dogs with diabetes, the body cannot effectively regulate blood sugar levels, which can result in excess glucose in the blood and urine.

During a urinalysis, if it detects glucose in the urine, it may indicate the dog has diabetes. In addition to a urinalysis, a veterinarian may perform a blood sugar test to confirm the hyperglycemia and determine the severity of the condition. Other signs of diabetes in dogs may include increased thirst and urination, weight loss, and lethargy.

Detection Of Ketoacidosis In Dogs Using Ketone Test

The build-up of keto acids in the body can give rise to a metabolic condition called ketoacidosis.

The body responds to hypoglycemia by producing ketones, but due to limited cellular absorption, their value as an energy source declines over time. Strong acids like ketones can build up and lead to metabolic acidosis, which manifests as clinical symptoms.

Ketone testing can be done using a urine dipstick or blood test to measure the level of ketones in the body. In dogs with ketoacidosis, high levels of ketones are often present in the urine and blood.

Early signs of ketoacidosis in dogs may include loss of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy, while more severe symptoms may include dehydration, rapid breathing, and coma.

Can Urinalysis Help Detect Bladder And Kidney Stones?

One of the most common signs of bladder and kidney stones in dogs is the presence of blood in the urine, and a urinalysis can detect the presence of blood cells in the urine. Additionally, the presence of crystals or minerals in the urine can be indicative of stone formation.

Urinalysis can also help determine the pH of a dog’s urine, which can be an important factor in the formation of certain types of stones. For example, alkaline urine is associated with the formation of struvite stones, while acidic urine is associated with the formation of calcium oxalate stones.

However, while urinalysis can provide useful information about a dog’s urinary tract health, it is not the only diagnostic tool used to detect bladder and kidney stones. Imaging studies such as x-rays or ultrasounds are often necessary to confirm the presence of stones and to determine their location and size.

What Is The Bladder Tumor Antigen Test In Dogs?

A bladder tumor antigen (BTA) test is a laboratory test used to detect the presence of a protein called BTA in the urine of dogs. This test is designed to aid in the diagnosis of bladder cancer in dogs.

Bladder cancer is a relatively rare form of cancer in dogs, but it can occur, particularly in certain breeds such as Scottish Terriers, West Highland White Terriers, and Shetland Sheepdogs. The early detection of bladder cancer is important, as it can help improve treatment outcomes and increase a dog’s chances of survival.

The BTA test is a simple, non-invasive test that involves collecting a urine sample from the dog and analyzing it in a laboratory. More specifically, the test is designed to detect elevated levels of the bladder tumor antigen, which is produced by certain types of cancerous cells.

While the BTA test can be a useful diagnostic tool, it is not always definitive, and a positive result does not necessarily mean that a dog has bladder cancer. 

Other factors, such as urinary tract infections or inflammation, can also cause elevated levels of BTA in the urine. Therefore, additional testing, such as imaging studies or a biopsy, may be necessary to confirm a diagnosis of bladder cancer.

Conclusion: What Is Urinalysis For Dogs?

Urinalysis in dogs is a useful diagnostic tool to not only assess the normal function of the kidney and bladder but can also help identify other health conditions. Moreover, urinalysis helps detect renal disease, liver disease, diabetes mellitus, ketoacidosis, and bladder stones in dogs. In some cases, it may help detect bladder cancer as well. Urinalysis is a routine diagnostic test that veterinarians can use as a reference to reach a diagnosis with further tests.

So, do you think your dog needs a urinalysis? Has your veterinarian done one already? Let us know in the comments below.

Shahzaib is a qualified veterinarian and professional writer. He is from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. He did his DVM from the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad. Being a Veterinarian, Shahzaib has technically sound knowledge of pet health, nutrition, breeding, and housing. He has more than two years of experience in small animal medicine and surgery. Currently, he is working as an Associate Veterinarian in a renowned pet hospital in Islamabad, Pakistan.