Urinalysis for Pets: How At-Home Urine Testing Can Benefit Your Pet’s Health

Tatiana Cromwell
Tatiana Cromwell
May 7, 2023
min read
Technically reviewed by: 
Diagnox Staff
Urinalysis for Pets: How At-Home Urine Testing Can Benefit Your Pet’s Health

Urine is often seen only as a waste product of a pet's body, but it is an important indicator of their health. A urinalysis (urine examination) can help you and your vet detect urinary system diseases. A urine test can also help detect metabolic disorders and diseases of other systems [1]. Though a full urinalysis is done at a well-equipped laboratory, urine test strips allow you to test your pet's urine at home.

A urine test strip is a thin plastic strip lined with different reagents that change color when immersed in urine.

Urine testing strips have several reagents and chemicals that change color when soaked with urine. These color changes help to detect if the urine contains substances in an abnormal range. These tests are inexpensive, and you can do them at home without any special equipment.

If you get an abnormal result, you should consult your vet. So it's important to know cat and dog urinalysis normal values to interpret the results of pet urinalysis correctly. Dogs and cats often have few symptoms with disorders like urinary tract infections, and regular urinalyses are a valuable tool to detect health issues at their early stages.

Collecting Your Pet's Urine

There are several methods to acquire a pet urine sample [1]. Each has advantages and drawbacks.

Midstream sample. A urine sample is collected in a sterile container as your pet urinates. It helps if you've trained your pet to urinate at a particular place or on cue. This method requires patience and can easily become contaminated. However, it is pain-free for the pet and does not require a vet's assistance.

Catheter sample. Your vet passes a thin, sterile tube through your pet's urethra into the urinary bladder and collects the urine. This procedure allows urine collection on demand, but your pet will have to be restrained to allow it. Catheterization has a small risk of carrying infection into the bladder, causing a UTI.

Cystocentesis. Your vet collects a urine sample directly from the bladder by inserting a needle and drawing urine into a syringe. Your pet's bladder must be full, and the procedure does cause some pain. This type of sample has no contamination risks and is the most reliable for detecting urinary tract infections [2].

In a free-catch method, urine is voided voluntarily by the pet in the usual way. Both pet owners and vets can collect using urine collection devices specifically made for pets. They come in different shapes and sizes and often have a telescoping pole for accessible urine collection.

The Urinalysis

A complete urine test should be part of a pet's health evaluation. It not only assesses the urinary system, but it also helps diagnose liver diseases like hepatitis and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Many conditions in pets do not have overt symptoms, and regular urinalysis at a laboratory or veterinary urine test strips can detect disorders early.

A laboratory will examine the urine's color, smell, and clarity and test for its specific gravity and pH (acidic or alkaline). The chemical analysis includes glucose, proteins, ketones, nitrites, leukocyte esterase, and bilirubin content.

The laboratory will spin the urine sample in a machine called a centrifuge to concentrate it, and the sediment is examined under a microscope for bacteria, other organisms, and various cell types [2].

The sample should be examined within an hour of collection for the best results. A meticulous urinalysis can detect kidney diseases before they progress to kidney failure. Bilirubin, glucose, ketones, and hemoglobin levels can diagnose various metabolic conditions, infections, and blood diseases [2].

Steps to perform a urine test using urine test strips (dipsticks).

Cat Urine Test

UTIs in cats have few symptoms and are often detected during a routine urinalysis. The urinalysis may show pyuria (pus cells in the urine), hematuria (blood in the urine), and bacteriuria (bacteria in the urine). (Urine dipstick tests do not check for pus in the urine).

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in cats are common. A positive urine test for leukocytes and nitrite (common available on at-home urine test strips) indicates signs of a UTI.

Urine tests can identify kidney infections that can cause far-reaching damage to these vital organs, leading to kidney scarring, stone formation, hypertension (high blood pressure), and kidney failure. Early, effective treatment is crucial [4]. The gold standard to diagnose a UTI is a urine culture, in which the laboratory grows the bacteria present in the urine so it can be identified and treated correctly [3].

UTIs and other inflammatory conditions can increase protein in the urine (called proteinuria), so a protein-to-creatinine ratio is also helpful. [5]. Protein in cat urine is normally less than 1 gram/liter, and greater amounts in the urine can indicate kidney disease. Proteinuria also affects blood clotting, immunity, hormonal balance, lipid balance, and several metabolic functions [6].

Cat urine test strips are inexpensive and simple to use at home to detect possible disorders early. These strips measure chemical levels that may indicate disease — glucose to detect diabetes, ketones to detect ketosis, nitrites, and leukocyte esterase to detect UTI, etc. However, they give only a rough guide to quantities of glucose and protein and can't replace a microscopic examination or culture.

Dog Urine Test

Dogs should have regular health evaluations that include urine testing. Like cats, they can have several disorders that don't have apparent symptoms. A urinalysis will examine glucose, ketones, nitrites, blood, bilirubin, etc., to detect diseases. The laboratory will also look at the urine under a microscope to identify pus cells, bacteria, red blood cells, crystals, casts, and other abnormalities that signify diseases.

Dog urinalysis normal values differ from cats and other animals. By testing ten common urine parameters, a lot can be learned about your pet's health.

Dog UTI symptoms are minimal or absent, and detecting these infections is challenging without a urinalysis. Bacterial infections that originate from the urinary tract are the most common infections among dogs [4], and prompt treatment is needed to avoid significant kidney damage.

Examining dog urine protein levels is a vital part of a urinalysis [6]. Normal protein-to-creatinine ratios are usually less than 0.5, and higher values could indicate kidney disease [5].

You can use dog urine test strips at home to monitor your pet's health. These strips test for chemical abnormalities and can help you in the early detection of disorders. However, you will need your vet to perform a urinalysis at a laboratory to confirm any abnormal results. For example, if your strip test is positive for a UTI, your vet will ask the laboratory to confirm it by microscopic examination (for pus cells and bacteria) and culture.

Clear information is the most valuable resource you can have on your side.
Stay in the loop!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Interpretation of Urine Test Strip Results

At-home dipstick tests can be used by both vets and pet owners to check ten different parameters in an animal’s urine. These commonly tested urine parameters include Leukocytes, Nitrite, Urobilinogen, Protein, pH, Blood, Ketone, Specific Gravity, Bilirubin, and Glucose. These urine parameters can provide a wealth of information about your pet’s health as well as help diagnose a broad spectrum of diseases.

Color chart for urine test strips for pet cats and dogs.


This test reveals the presence of Leukocytes esterase, generally referred to as white blood cells. These cells of the immune system protect the body against infections and pathogenic foreign bodies. A few white blood cells are not a cause of concern and yield negative or trace results. A positive test for leukocytes, or white blood cells, in the urine of cats and dogs, typically suggests an infection or inflammation in the urinary tract.

It is essential to note that the presence of leukocytes in the urine does not always indicate an infection or other problem in the urinary tract, as many factors can influence the results of a urinalysis. Therefore, a thorough evaluation by a veterinarian is necessary to determine the underlying cause of the leukocytes to prescribe appropriate treatment.


The occurrence of nitrites in the urine of cats and dogs usually indicates a bacterial urinary tract infection. Nitrites are formed in the urine when bacteria convert nitrate to nitrite as part of their metabolic process.

The presence of nitrites may prompt further diagnostic tests, such as a urine culture, to identify the specific bacteria responsible for causing the infection and determine the most appropriate treatment. Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial urinary tract infections.


Urobilinogen is formed from the reduction of bilirubin, which is a yellowish substance found in the liver that helps break down red blood cells. Elevated levels of urobilinogen in the urine of cats and dogs can indicate various conditions, including liver disease, hemolytic anemia, and some forms of bacterial infections.


The occurrence of protein in the urine, also known as proteinuria, can indicate a variety of conditions, ranging from benign to serious. Protein is not normally found in the urine; however, occasionally, a small quantity of protein in urine is not considered clinically critical. If there is a kidney problem, protein can leak into the urine repeatedly, which requires medical attention.

The urine dipstick test is highly sensitive to albumin but can give false positives due to contaminants and the presence of cauxin in feline urine.


The pH of urine refers to the level of acidity or alkalinity in the urine. The significance of urine pH in pet cats, dogs, and other animals can vary depending on several factors, such as diet and health conditions.

The normal pH range for urine in cats and dogs is between 6.0 and 7.5. A single urine pH reading is insufficient to diagnose a disease or condition. Combined with other parameters, a urine pH consistently outside the normal range helps identify possible factors that can cause metabolic, renal, gastrointestinal, or respiratory disorders.


The presence of blood in the urine is known as hematuria. Acute episodes of blood in urine could be due to muscle injury or trauma. However, chronic hematuria suggests an underlying medical condition requiring further evaluation and treatment.

Hematuria can be caused by various conditions, including urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney stones, urinary tract tumors, trauma or injury to the urinary tract, or due to certain systemic diseases such as kidney disease.

Specific Gravity

Urine Specific Gravity (USG) measures the concentration of all chemical particles in the urine. It determines the body’s hydration levels and the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine.

While USG in animals can have a broad normal range, USG is typically between 1.015 to 1.045 in healthy hydrated dogs and 1.035 to 1.060 in cats. USG consistently below this range may indicate underlying medical conditions such as diabetes insipidus, kidney disease, or overhydration. On the other hand, a specific gravity that is consistently above this range may indicate dehydration, kidney disease, or other conditions that cause the body to retain fluids.


Ketones are produced when the body breaks down fat for energy instead of glucose. This can occur due to a carb-restrictive diet or when there is a shortage of glucose in the body.

Ketones are normally not present at detectable levels in the urine of cats or dogs. A positive ketone in urine test could be due to metabolic ketosis, electrolyte imbalances, diabetes mellitus, or prolonged hunger.


Bilirubin is a chemical produced in the liver and normally excreted in the bile.

In healthy cats, bilirubin in urine is not present. However, in healthy dogs, trace to small quantities of bilirubin in urine is normal. Unusually high levels of bilirubin in the urine are associated with liver disease or red blood cell destruction (hemolysis) and should always be investigated by a veterinarian.


In healthy cats and dogs, glucose is usually filtered out by the kidneys and reabsorbed into the bloodstream. However, if the glucose levels in the blood become too high, the kidneys may not be able to reabsorb all of the glucose, leading to glucosuria (i.e., glucose in the urine). It is mostly due to kidney disorders, such as diabetes mellitus. Glucosuria makes conditions ideal for bacterial growth and can cause urinary tract infections.

The Value of a Urinalysis

A urinalysis is a simple, inexpensive test that can help detect kidney diseases and other disorders. Since pets can't communicate how they're feeling and many conditions do not produce symptoms, regular urine examinations can identify important diseases before irreversible damage occurs. Urinalysis can also assess your pet's response to treatment and detect relapses.

You can perform a urinalysis at home using pet urine test strips and report any abnormal results to your vet.


[1] K. Williams, VCA Animal Hospitals. "Urinalysis," Available Online Accessed on April 29, 2023].

[2] S. Yadav, N. Ahmed, A. Nath, D. Mahanta, & M. Kalita, "Urinalysis in dog and cat: A review," Veterinary World, vol 13, pp 2133–2141, 2020. [Accessed on April 29, 2023].

[3] S. Olin, & J. Bartges, "Urinary tract infections: treatment/comparative therapeutics," The Veterinary clinics of North America. Small animal practice, vol 45, pp 721–746, 2015. [Accessed on April 29, 2023].

[4] P. Dowling, "Bacterial Urinary Tract Infections," in MSD Veterinary Manual. [Accessed on April 29, 2023].

[5] College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, "Urinalysis," [Accessed on April 29, 2023].

[6] L. Harley, & C. Langston, "Proteinuria in dogs and cats," The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne, vol 53, pp 631–638, 2012. [Accessed on April 29, 2023].

About the Author
Tatiana Cromwell

Tatiana Cromwell is a highly experienced and skilled medical writer with a degree in psychology. With over 20 years of experience in the field, she has a deep understanding of medical terminology and the intricacies of the healthcare industry.

Throughout her career, Tatiana has worked with a range of clients, including pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and medical device manufacturers, to produce high-quality content for a variety of purposes. She has a particular interest in mental health and has written extensively on topics such as anxiety, depression, and addiction.

In addition to her writing skills, Tatiana is also an excellent communicator and is highly adept at translating complex medical concepts into easy-to-understand language. This has made her a valuable asset to her clients and has helped her to build a strong reputation in the industry.

Outside of her work as a medical writer, Tatiana is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and is dedicated to helping others access the support and resources they need to thrive. She is an active member of several professional organizations and is always looking for ways to improve her skills and knowledge in her field.

About the Reviewer
This blog was
Technically reviewed by: 
Diagnox Staff

Diagnox Staff consists of a multidisciplinary team of scientists, content writers, and healthcare professionals with an expertise to create and review high-quality, informative, accurate, and easy-to-understand content for both professionals and everyday readers. Our staff follows strict guidelines to ensure the credibility and authenticity of the information, reviewing them independently and verifying them by various scientific and technical sources to ensure accuracy. Our review team believes in delivering knowledge free from bias to improve public health and well-being.

Have a Question?

Questions are great. Drop us a note and we promise to get back to you soon.

Thank you! Your question has been received.
We will respond to you promptly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Kindly try again.
If the problem persists, please drop us an email at contact@diagnoxhealth.com