Life with kids on Sydney's Northern Beaches
Old age is not a disease in its own right, but it does bring with it a greater risk of developing certain conditions. For this reason, it is important to have a vet check your Senior Pet regularly; at least every 6 months, as it increase’s the chances of us identifying health issues early.
Our 'Senior Wellness Check' involves a physical examination, potential blood & urine tests & discussion with the pet owner on “senior” health care matters. We aim for early detection so that these conditions can be managed, reducing the impact on your loved one's health, adding years to their life, and ensuring quality years at that!
Why do urine testing?
Urine can hold many clues about your pet's health.
It can tell us whether your pet has diabetes, kidney disease, a urinary tract infection and can give us many clues to test for other problems (hormone imbalances, urinary incontinence, liver disease just to name a few!). All of these problems are more likely to occur in our senior pets.
How is testing done?
Firstly, we need to get a clean, fresh sample!
Then a testing strip (dipstick) has urine applied to it and a drop of urine is placed on a device that checks for concentration (refractometer). From these two simple steps, we can tell if there are large amounts of abnormal material (such as glucose, blood and protein) in the urine and we can assess the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine - an essential measure of kidney function.
After the dipstick and concentration test, a portion of the urine is spun down, using a machine called a centrifuge. This allows examination of the cells and non liquid components of the urine. A small sample is placed on a slide and examined under the microscope to check for crystals, cells (red blood cells and white blood cells) and germs such as bacteria and yeast.
If the above two steps are clear, then we perform a specific test looking for small amounts of protein in the urine. This test is called a urine protein creatinine ratio (UPC) and is conducted using a specific test strip placed into our in hospital laboratory machine.
And what do these test results tell us?
The first step of testing will tell us if there are any signs of diabetes, advanced kidney disease and give us clues pointing towards hormone imbalances and urinary tract infection.
The second step of testing will confirm likely urinary tract infection and can give us clues about bladder and kidney stones.
The third step (which is only done if the previous two steps are clear) will help us identify early signs of kidney disease, which if detected at this stage, are often reversible.
So, how do we get a urine sample?
Either one of 3 methods;
1 - Free catch: This one you can do at home for no cost!
We will provide you with a sterile collection container and some advice on how to do it. It is very important to follow the specific instructions that we give you. If you can't manage this, we can try and collect one here for you at the clinic BUT we often find that patients have a nervous wee before walking in the door and have nothing left by the time they get here so best to collect at home if you can.
2 - Catheterisation: This involves passing a sterile tube (catheter) into the bladder. This can be done in our canine male patients generally easily. It will involve a small charge.
3 - Cystocentesis: This involves inserting a very fine needle into the bladder directly and collecting urine in a small syringe. This is the most sterile method of collection and is often needed if we are concerned about accurately identifying the nature of any infection. This is generally well accepted by our patients when it is done quickly and gently- it is over before they know it! It also involves a small charge.
Is this ALL the testing that my pet needs to show good health?
If your pet is happy and has no signs of abnormality on a physical exam, then generally YES!
HOWEVER, usually additional and different testing IS needed to accurately diagnose and measure the level of disease if abnormalities are found (often starting with blood tests and/or more specific testing to check for the numbers and types of bacteria in the urine). Any tests of this type will help give a more rounded picture of what is going on.
Ongoing urine tests are very useful to measure improvement and can be used as an easy way for us to monitor changes as your pet ages.
For more information go to www.monavalevet.com.au