Getting a urine sample can be a simple or frustrating experience depending on how accommodating or shy your pet is, but a little know how can make for a much easier and more pleasant experience. For a homeopathic vet, the information gleaned even from the collection process can be very helpful in coming to a suitable treatment.
So ‘how?’; ‘how much?’; ‘when?’ and even ‘why might you need to collect your pet’s urine?’
Lets answer ‘when’ first.
A urine sample is best obtained first thing in the morning, with the patient having been kept indoors overnight with free access to water. In some cases water restriction is necessary, but only on your vet’s say so – never restrict access to water without veterinary instruction. For example, a kidney patient can die from the consequences of water deprivation. Another advantage of an early morning urine sample, especially, if you live in a town or city, is that you are unlikely to become of too much interest to the neighbours as you follow your pet around with a scoop or saucer!
Next to ‘how?
Collecting urine from dogs
For dogs, take them out on lead (so they can’t get too far away from you, unless you have awfully long arms or a polystyrene cup attached to a broom handle). Male dogs usually cock their leg and urinate on a regular basis, especially over the competitions’ sprinklings. Then it is just a matter of placing a urine sample collector or pre-sterilized dish (such as a margarine container or other flat plastic food container) in the stream of urine to collect the sample. Proper urine sample containers are available from a local chemist, drug store, pet store or your veterinarian. Alternatively, the dish needs to be cleaned and sterilized by washing in boiling water. Special urine collection scoops and vials can be bought, but are in many cases unnecessary for initial samples. Avoid the use of vitamin containers or containers with similar contents as contamination can alter the results.
For bitches, the situation can sometimes take more work. You need to have her on a lead and you must wait for her to start passing urine before putting the saucer underneath. If you attempt to put the saucer underneath a bitch before she starts, whatever chance you had of collecting the urine sample is gone! Some bitches will hold on for days if disturbed before starting to urinate. Yet once a bitch starts urinating they can rarely stop before you get a sample!
Collecting urine from cats
For cats, a whole different set of rules apply and the litter tray rules supreme for sample collection at home. You will need to provide a clean, sterilized litter tray with no cat litter in it. The litter tray should be slightly tilted to one end so that the urine runs away from any faeces the cat may also do in the tray. You can put in commercially produced plastic pearls (see photo left in pack and right in litter tray), or shredded plastic, but this is not as easy to get in these days of paper shopping bags. What I do is roll up the plastic and use scissors to cut strips off the roll, which looks just like shredded paper. Then I shake the cut plastic strips apart to make fluffy, sterile, non-absorbent litter, which for some reason almost all cats will use, especially if they are locked in a room with a lino floor.
If the bathroom is normally used as your feline’s toilet room, then be sure to put about an inch of water in the sink and bath so kitty doesn’t decide to use one of these giant litter trays!
As I was originally writing this article and had duly told my client all the things to remove from the bathroom, only to discover the cat had started using the potted plants in the bathroom as the ideal replacement litter tray – once removed a sample was forthcoming, so you really need to think like a cat, when setting up the room.