The Ins and Outs of Urinalysis

How do we collect urine from animals?

There are three typical methods for collecting urine from a pet.

  1. Free catch- This is the method used most often for urine collection because it is the least invasive. The urine is simply caught in a sterile cup while the animal is urinating. For dogs, we will either bring the dog outside to collect a sample, or we can send you home with a collection cup if the patient is unwilling to urinate for us at the clinic. Collection of urine for cats can be more complicated. Some cats will urinate in the clinic for us with gentle pressure on their bladders. Other times, we will recommend using Kit4Cat at home to collect a sample without stressing the cat. Kit4Cat is a litter replacement that repels urine and causes it to bubble up on top. The litter box is cleaned and emptied of regular litter. The sand from the Kit4Cat is put into the box and the patient urinates on it. A syringe provided in the kit is used to suction up the urine from the top of the sand.
  2. Cystocentesis-  This is collection of urine directly from the bladder using a needle and syringe. Although it sounds intimidating, most animals tolerate this very well with minimal response to the procedure. This method allows us to more thoroughly assess the quality of the urine in the bladder itself, without concern about contamination from the fur and environment. If we are planning to culture bacteria from a urinary tract infection, we will want to collect the urine in this manner to get the most beneficial results.
  3. Catheterization- This method involves passing a urinary catheter up the urethra and into the bladder. This is uncommonly done because it can be uncomfortable for patients and there are simpler ways to collect a urine sample from most animals. However, a catheter may be used to collect a urine sample in patients who have a urinary obstruction or who are paralyzed and unable to empty their bladders on their own.
How soon do we need to look at the urine?

Ideally we would like to evaluate the urine sample within 30 minutes of collection. This minimizes the number of changes that occur to the urine outside of the patient and in the urine collection cup. If it is not possible to evaluate the urine this quickly, it should be kept in the refrigerator and evaluated within 24 hours. Urine that is older than 24 hours can still be evaluated, but changes may have occurred in the sample that make it more difficult to interpret.

Parts of the urinalysis:

  1. Color/cloudiness: The first quality of the urine that is assessed is its visual appearance. Normal urine is light yellow in color, although there can be some variation depending on hydration status and time of day. Clear urine may suggest that the patient is overhydrated or has a medical problem that prevents him/her from concentrating the urine appropriately. Dark urine may suggest dehydration or other substances in the urine that should not be there (such as blood or other pigments). We also assess the cloudiness of the urine, as cloudy urine is more likely to have cells or debris present within it.
  2. Specific gravity: This is a measurement of the concentration of the urine, or how “dense” it is. We measure specific gravity with a refractometer. If we are concerned about a dog’s ability to concentrate the urine (for example, with kidney disease), we may ask you to collect a first morning sample to evaluate the urine at its most concentrated. Cats are desert animals and their urine should always be concentrated, so time of day is less important for evaluation of their specific gravities.
  3. pH: The pH is one of several urinary parameters that is measured on a dipstick. This is a measurement of how acidic or basic the urine is. pH can change with diet and time of day, but it can also be affected by infections or other diseases. The pH of the urine is especially important for patients with a history of crystals or bladder stones.
  4. Protein: Normal urine should have minimal to no protein present in it. If there is protein in your pet’s urine sample, we may recommend a secondary test called a urine protein:creatinine ratio. This test lets us know if the amount of protein in the urine is significant or not. Some patients can have a small amount of protein in very concentrated urine and that can be normal. Significant protein in the urine should be further evaluated, as it can indicate problems with the kidneys or elsewhere in the body.
  5. Glucose: Glucose should not normally be present in the urine of dogs and cats. If there is glucose in your pet’s urine sample, diabetes is the primary concern. Sometimes stress can cause glucose to spill into the urine (especially in cats). Less commonly, kidney disease can also cause glucose to enter the urine.
  6. Ketones: Ketones are a byproduct of fat metabolism. They are most commonly seen in the urine of unregulated diabetics.
  7. Bilirubin: Bilirubin is produced by the liver and is not normally present in large amounts in the urine, although healthy dogs can have small amounts present. Large amounts of bilirubin in the urine can indicate liver disease or autoimmune disease.
  8. Blood: Blood in the urine either indicates bleeding in the urinary tract or passing of blood products into the urine from the body. There may be a small amount of blood in a urine sample due to collection if the urine was removed from the bladder using a needle. Other reasons for bleeding in the urinary tract include bladder stones, inflammation, infection, or tumors. The presence of blood in the urine is confirmed in the urinary sediment, as other molecules such as hemoglobin and myoglobin (from the blood or muscles) can cause this test to be positive on the dipstick.
  9. The urine sediment: In this stage of the urinalysis, the urine is spun down in a centrifuge to concentrate any cells or crystals that may be present. The sediment is then evaluated under a microscope. This can either be done manually or with new technology that uses a machine to spin and evaluate the urine. Our clinics are now using the Sedivue, which is a machine that images and analyzes the urine sediment using facial recognition technology. The veterinarian then evaluates and assesses the produced images. This technology allows us to evaluate urine samples more quickly, which increases the amount of information that we can get from them.
  1. Red blood cells- Red blood cells can be present in the urine in small numbers normally, but large numbers can indicate infection, stones, clotting abnormalities, trauma, inflammation, or tumors.
  2. White blood cells- Increased white blood cell count is indicative of inflammation or infection.
  3. Bacteria- Some bacteria can be present normally in a free catch sample due to environmental contamination. In a cystocentesis sample there should be no bacteria. Increased numbers of bacteria and white blood cells may indicate a urinary tract infection.
  4. Crystals- There are several different types of crystals that can form for different reasons. Pets who make crystals can also make bladder stones but these do not always correlate perfectly. Crystals can also be formed with urinary tract infections, liver disease, or certain toxins. Sometimes crystals will form while the urine is sitting in the collection cup, not in the patient. In this situation, we may wish to evaluate a urine sample immediately after production to eliminate this variable.
  5. Casts- Casts are collections of cells or protein that are formed in the shape of the kidneys’ tubules. These can be normal in low numbers or indicative of kidney dysfunction.
  6. Cells- There can be clumps of tissue cells in the urine sample normally. These come from the lining of the bladder and the urethra. If these cells look abnormal, more testing may need to be completed. Sometimes bladder cancer can be diagnosed in this manner.
  7. Sperm- Sperm may be seen in the sediment of intact male animals.

Overall, a urinalysis provides us with a lot of important information in both healthy and sick pets! Although it can sometimes be frustrating to collect (especially in cats), it allows us to diagnose problems that we cannot always find with just bloodwork and a physical exam. Some diseases like kidney disease can be found in urine before they cause clinical signs and bloodwork changes. This allows us to begin management and monitoring for your pet sooner.

Please give us a call if you have any questions about running a urinalysis, and its benefits for your pet!

The Hill’s Weight Loss Competition is BACK!

This January, we are starting our weight loss competition!

Here’s the details:

Who?: One cat and one dog winner (and of course there will be a prize for both the pets and their owners)

When?: January 1st to March 31st

How?: Sign up and have your pet weigh in at one of our locations (Elkwood Animal Hospital, Compassion Animal Hospital, or Catlett Animal Hospital). You will then receive your first bag of food and treats for free and will have the option to sign up for shipments of the food to your door, or you can come to the clinic to pick some up as needed.

 

Hills Diets included (must be purchased through our clinics): 

-Canine Metabolic and Mobility

-Canine Metabolic

-Feline Urinary and Metabolic

-Feline Metabolic

Prizes: 

-Three months of free food for the cat and dog winner (based on percentage of body weight lost)

-Prize for the owner too!!

 

Theme Health Months for 2019

Introducing theme health months for 2019!!!…

Health Themes for 2019:

January: Weight Loss Month
February: Dental Health Month
March: Lyme Awareness Month
April: Parasite Prevention Month
May: Alleviating Allergies Month
June: Addressing Anxiety Month
July: No theme
August: Cat Wellness Month
September: Senior Pet Month (10% off Wellness bloodwork)
October: Dental Health Month
Novemeber: 10% off Microchipping Event and Joint Month
December: Discount on Healthy Treats

April’s Parasite Month Preventative SALE!!!

Elkwood Animal Hospital’s Flea and Tick, Heartworm, and Gutworm Preventative SALE!!!

 

Trifexis:

Trifexis is dosed by weight. Bring your dog in for a weigh in today and get some BOGO heartworm, gutworm, and flea preventative.

Trifexis is dosed by weight. Bring your dog for a weigh in today and get some BOGO heartworm, gutworm, and flea preventative.

BUY 6 Months of Trifexis (all the same size) and get 6 months FREE!!!

Heartworm, gutworm, and flea prevention all year for half the price. This product is one of the best if not the best product of it’s kind on the market. Guaranteed to work! Simply give one tablet by mouth once a month WITH FOOD.

 

 

Heartgard and NexGard:

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Image result for heartgard chewables for dogsBuy six months of Nexgard and Heartgard and get $40 off instantly and $15 rebate.

Buy twelve months of Nexgard and Heartgard and get $80 of instantly and a $50 rebate.

                                                  Heartgard and Nexgard together provide protection from heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, fleas, and ticks.

Feline Revolution:

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Buy six months of Feline Revolution and get two doses free and $30 off instantly.

Buy nine months of Feline Revolution and get three doses free and $60 off instantly.

Heartworm And Tick Disease Testing:

Does your dog need a heartworm/lyme/anaplasma/ehrlichia test. They are $15 per test on April 22nd (Typically, they are $49.)!  Call and make your appointment today (540-439-9016).

Busting Myths About Cats & Vet Visits!

Even though there are more cats than dogs in American households, cats still visit the vet much less often than dogs. We at Elkwood Animal Hospital want to help change this! Our cats are also members of the family, and deserve excellent veterinary care just as much as our canine companions.

Myth #1:

Cats Don’t Get Sick As Often As Dogs Do

Cats are very good at hiding signs of illness. Our cats do get ill, with stomach upset, parasites, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney disease, and more. Sometimes we don’t notice they are having trouble (because they would rather be seen as self-sufficient and independent!) until they don’t make it to the litterbox like they should, can’t seem to get enough water so raid the dog’s bowl, or feel so ill they just don’t want to get up and look out their favorite window. Having an annual vet check can help find the subtle early signs of illness so we can keep our cats feeling their best more of the time.

Myth #2:

Indoor Cats Don’t Need Vaccines

Cats are just as susceptible to rabies and nasty respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses as dogs are, and just because your cat is inside doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t be protected from these deadly diseases. Indoor cats are often on the front lines of “defense” of the home when a bat sneaks in a window or chimney, or a strange animal enters the garage, or even the front door! Even if the cat never leaves the premises, sick (and rabid) animals can show up at our door or window any time and risk exposing our cats and our families to diseases which are preventable with vaccinations.

Myth #3:

Traveling To The Vet Is Too Stressful

This is a tough one, but not insurmountable!

A lot of the stress of coming to the vet comes down to the cat carrier and the car ride. If your cat is a kitten, NOW is the time to get him or her used to the carrier and short car rides, so that travel is much less stressful later on. Use the carrier as a special bed at home, leave it out with cuddly blankets and maybe tuck some treats inside from time to time, for kitty to discover. You’ll find this goes a long way to make the carrier a cozy place to be rather than a threatening transportation device. Taking practice rides in the carrier that just go around the block and conclude with a special meal or treat back at home is another great way to get younger (and older!) cats used to travel.

Talk with our veterinarians about anti-anxiety options for travel as well. Feliway is a common, side-effect free option for lowering stress levels in the carrier, car, and vet clinic. We also have nutraceuticals (with natural anxiety relievers) or medications that may be helpful for individual cats to make their annual vet trip.

We are working every day to make sure your time in the clinic as stress free as possible, as well. Let us know tips that work for your cat and we may be able to accommodate their individual needs. Also, don’t forget we make house calls! This lets your cat get the care he or she needs with no travel required!

 

In January 2017, we’re making felines our focus! We’re offering special discounts (10% off most care!) on wellness care for your cat, to make sure preventive care, routine screening tests, and parasite prevention can reach as many cats in our client households as possible. Have a cat who has never actually been to see us yet? These new cat patients are eligible for 15% off their services!

Call us to set up an appointment or find out more!

 

Is Anxiety Ruining Your Pet’s Summer?

This month’s Health Focus is Freedom From Anxiety!

Summer brings celebrations that often feature fireworks, explosions, and gunshots, but these things are frequently scary for our pets, who don’t understand the loud noises and bright flashes. Even if the fireworks don’t start weeks early in your neighborhood, Mother Nature is usually ready to deliver light shows of her own featuring lightning, thunder, and barometric pressure changes. Car rides or kennel boarding for summer trips can top it all off to make this a scary time of year for many pets.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of things that can be done to help your pets be at their best and most comfortable. See below for some of the things we’re recommending this summer.

Team Up – Consult With A Vet

Our veterinarians are here to help with behavior, training, and phobias as well as your pet’s other health concerns. Set up a consult to discuss your pet’s particular fears, triggers, or problem behaviors and what can be done to help. Sometimes there is training that can help calm fears or manage frightening situations, other times there may be medications that can make things better or easier. Did you know there’s a great anti-nausea medication for pets that can calm queasy stomachs and turn that reluctant car rider into an eager copilot? Or a jacket that can help provide a snug “hug” for a pet and may make thunderstorms easier even without ANY additional medications? Our vets are here to help your pets’ well being in all ways, including their sense of comfort in stressful situations.

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Pheromones – Pill-Free Relief

Pheromones are chemicals processed through a pet’s olfactory system (the same system that processes smell, such an important sense to our dogs and cats!) that can have a direct calming effect on the brain without the use of oral medications. Specific products for both dogs and cats are available, and replicate chemicals that have a calming effect on the brain. For dogs, Adaptil® products are available as collars that can be put on in the morning if the weather is calling for thunderstorms so they can work gently throughout the day. Feliway® products for cats are available in a room spritz or even set-it-and-forget-it plug-in diffusers that are especially helpful for times when you’re having house guests, or that week around the 4th of July when there are stray fireworks going off in the neighborhood.adaptilfeliway

Nutraceuticals – Calm By Nature

There are some great non-prescription products out there that can be helpful as well. Some proteins and amino acids have been studied to support our pets’ sense of calm and healthy brain chemical balance. For example, the product Zylkene® makes use of a protein from milk, and Solliquin Chews use the amino acid L-Theanine from green tea and other botanical extracts to promote balanced behavior and relaxation. While we recommend you check in with our doctors before starting on any supplement for your pet, these products are over the counter and do not require a prescription. Consider adding them to your routine to help your furry family members to be more comfortable.zylkenesolliquin

This June we are offering 50% off the Behavior Consult exam with the veterinarians, and 10% off anxiety and calming aids, including all the products mentioned above! Help you and your pets have a great summer, and call us with any questions or to schedule a consult!

Feline Health Month!

Cats need regular veterinary care too! Join us this month for specials for your feline friends, and make sure these family members get just as much of the attention they need and deserve as their canine compatriots!

In addition to the services listed below, our wellness labwork screening panels are also discounted, and highly recommended!

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Parasite Prevention Month!

Our focus in April this year is making sure we keep your pets and your family free from dangerous parasites!

We are offering 10% off our regular parasite testing, which includes:

• 4Dx testing, which screens for heartworms, as well as tick-borne diseases (Lyme, Ehrlichia, & Anaplasma)

• fecal testing, which screens for intestinal parasites

We also have some amazing specials on the routine parasite prevention your pets need to stay safe from parasites year round. The coupons below can be brought in and redeemed for extra savings on these preventatives, and there may be additional rebates available as well!

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**Note! The above special (Heartgard and NexGard) has been extended through the end of May! Click here!

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November Microchip Special

We believe in microchip identification for all pets! Getting lost pets home is our health focus for November, and we are offering 10% off our microchip placement with lifetime registration!

WHY MICROCHIP?

As many as one third of all pets may find themselves lost or separated from their owners at one point in their lifetimes. Dogs get excited and run off to explore; fences are damaged in storms; delivery people or family friends accidentally leave a door open and a pet who normally stays indoors is suddenly out, scared, and lost – all of these can happen and create a very scary situation!

Pets should wear collars and tags with contact information as well, but collars and tags can come off or can be removed, while a microchip stays with your pet for a lifetime. Tattoos sometimes fade, and sometimes they could be altered. A microchip is programmed with one unique number, and are in place for life.

Microchip implantation is a reliable way to ensure your pet’s identity is known wherever they may turn up – when a lost pet visits a shelter, animal control,or a good Samaritans who bring a found animal to a vet, the animal can be scanned for the microchip and its unique identification number that can set him/her on the path to getting back home.

HOW IS IT DONE?

The microchip is inserted with a quick and simple injection in the loose skin between the shoulder blades of cats and dogs. (Other species may have different locations) After that simple process, your pet’s ID is in place for life. A physical exam is not required for microchip placement!

Once the chip is placed, a scan is done right away to be sure everything is functional! Microchip scanners are made to be universal now, and able to pick up chips from any manufacturer. Having your pet’s chip scanned every year is also a great idea, to make sure no changes have occurred and help ensure your peace of mind.

HOW DOES MY PET GET BACK TO ME?

Once a lost pet’s chip is scanned, the person or organization will use the number from the chip to help get the pet back home. Through phone numbers and websites, the microchip number allows the pet’s rescuer to find the contact information for the pet’s owner. The American Animal Hospital Association manages the http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ which is a universal search site anyone can use, and one of the easiest ways to look up information on a scanned microchip number.

Each microchip contains a unique ID number – but no other information. Your personal information is NOT stored in your pet’s chip! ID numbers will need to be registered and kept up to date so that the number leads back to the pet’s human family members.

You will receive a lifetime registration form to complete and submit when your pet gets the microchip. Your pet’s number will initially be linked to our hospital, and then to you when you register. Make sure to keep your registration information up to date with us and with the microchip company!

Again, in November we are offering a 10% discount off all our microchip services! And every new microchip implanted includes lifetime registration! Please call us with any questions or to schedule to have your pet microchipped today!  540-825-1777

Demystifying the COHAT – The Dental Procedure

October is a Dental Health Awareness Month at Elkwood Animal Hospital!

As part of our ongoing effort to help your pets live long and happy, healthy lives we offer occasional monthly specials to address specific health concerns. Oral disease is a particularly prevalent but under treated condition.

In October we offer 10% off all dental procedures! We also provide free dental goody bags for your pet after his/her procedure, so you can continue with good oral health care at home. Feel free to call us for more information!

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This year we are also releasing some articles addressing dental health on a more in-depth level. Please enjoy our article below!

COHAT: Complete Oral Health Assessment & Treatment – What Happens During My Pet’s Procedure?

When you, the pet parent, and our doctors decide a professional dental cleaning or other dental health treatments are beneficial for your pet, there are often questions about what actually happens during the procedure. We prepared this article to help answer some of those questions and help explain the benefits to your pet.

First things first – why do we call it a “COHAT” and not a “dental”?

Many people used to refer to a veterinary oral exam and professional dental cleaning as simply “a dental”. However, we have shifted to calling the process a Complete Oral Health Assessment & Treatment, because that is a much better description of what actually occurs! The procedure is NOT just about cleaning teeth, but about a complete oral health and cancer screening, as well as treating and preventing oral disease for your pet.

Examination

During the COHAT, the veterinarian will first do a thorough examination of your pet’s mouth, including inspecting the teeth and recording any that are missing, broken, or diseased, measuring gingival (gum) pockets (an indicator of periodontal disease), evaluating the gums, cheeks, and tongue for any signs of cancer or other disease, and looking deep into the back of the throat. Since yourProbeChartDental pet is under anesthesia, this exam is far more complete and detailed than anything that can be accomplished in the normal exam room. Subtle changes, masses hidden under the tongue, and other crucial findings can be made on this exam which could be missed on a regular, awake exam.

Treatments & Cleaning

After the examination, the veterinarian can proceed to treatment of any disease found in your pet’s mouth. This may mean scaling and cleaning away tartar deposits (very common) on healthy teeth, and following with a polishing to smooth the enamel and make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere in the future. The equipment we use to clean your pet’s teeth is similar to, or sometimes exactly the same, as what is used for people in a dental office. The ultrasonic tool for removing tartar that we use has different tips and settings for cleaning above or below the gum line; this is one of the most critical parts of the COHAT, as so much of our pets’ dental disease is actually below the gum line. Without cleaning this crucial area, your pet’s plaque and tartar will come right BeforeAfterDentalback above the gum line, and the disease will continue deeper below the gum line to cause jaw bone disease.

Sometimes teeth are so diseased that th
ey may be loose and wiggly, or the bone around them may be infected or decaying. These teeth are sources of disease and pain, and thus, we often need to extract them to provide relief. Other teeth may have less severe disease and be repairable with a root canal and restoration, for which we can refer you to veterinary dental specialists.

What About The Anesthesia?

We wish our pets would all “open wide” for our dental procedures, but even people have trouble with this request! Anesthesia is the only way we can safely do the deep cleaning required for your pet’s oral health. For routine cleanings, your pet’s total anesthesia time is often less than 20-30 minutes, althoughMonitoringDental if there are more advanced procedures or necessary extractions, it may take a longer. (Another reason to be proactive about dental care!) The dentistry patient receives intubation to ensure a clear airway for breathing, inhalant anesthesia, and supplementary oxygen; warming, and close monitoring including ECG, blood pressure, oxygenation, temperature, and an assistant to watch over them before, during, and after the procedure are also provided. While no anesthesia is without risk, every patient gets our best care during their dental procedure. Preanesthetic bloodwork, IV catheters, and fluids are always recommended and sometimes required depending on the health and age of your pet. Our goal is always the best and safest treatment.

 

Please always feel free to discuss options for dental care for your pets with our doctors! We want you to be comfortable that your pet is getting the best preventive or corrective oral care possible for their health and wellbeing!

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