How To Collect a Specimen

Collection and Handling of Urine Samples at Home

When you are asked to collect a urine sample for your pet it is very important for it to be handled correctly. The following guidelines should be adhered to so that a quality sample is submitted. This will help us deliver an accurate analysis and therefore an accurate diagnosis. 

As a general rule, first morning samples are usually best unless otherwise stated by your veterinarian. 

There’s no way for a free-catch urine sample to be sterile, but the urine sample you collect should be free from additional bacteria, pet hair, feces and dirt. That’s why you’ll want to catch a sample while your pet is urinating and avoid getting a sample from the floor unless approved by a doctor. For male dogs who lift their legs, you’ll need a clean glass jar or plastic cup. If you have a female dog or one who squats low to the ground, a flat, rimmed container, such as an aluminum pie plate, may work best to slide underneath the dog. Soup ladles also work great. Beforehand, clean the container with hot, soapy water and dry it thoroughly. Please use gloves during the collection process. After collection, storage containers should be tightly capped and refrigerated after collection. Samples should be submitted to the clinic within 2 hours of collection. 

For cats, use a non-absorbable litter such as plastic pellets or kit-4-kat, which is a non-absorbent sand type litter. This type of litter is available at our clinic or retail pet stores. This will give your cat something to paw at in the box but doesn’t absorb the urine, leaving a sample behind. To prepare, just empty the litter box and thoroughly clean and dry it. Sprinkle the bottom with the plastic pellets or sand. If you have more than one cat, you’ll want to isolate the cat you want the sample from in a quiet room such as a bathroom with the litter box. Once your cat uses the box, you can use a clean syringe or pipette to transfer the urine into a clean, dry container and refrigerated it. Any feces in the box are likely to contaminate the sample, so if this happens, discard the contents and start over. Again, samples collected should be submitted within 2 hours of collection. 

 If you have any questions, please call our office and we will be happy to assist you. 

How to collect for an Intestinal Parasite Screening

As a general rule of thumb, we like to test a patient’s fecal sample on a bi-annual (6 month) basis. This cadence may change if your pet has an illness that is causing loose stools and/or has tested positive for an intestinal parasite.  

Intestinal parasites can be common in young puppies, pets that have been around a pet who has tested positive, or pets who are not on an oral preventative for heartworm or fleas and ticks – as preventatives usually have a dewormer built in. Parasites can also lie dormant in a pet and show up later in life, making it important that we routinely check a stool sample. Collecting a fresh sample is key to accurate results! We ask that the sample you bring to your appointment is the freshest sample you have (no older than 24 hours), and has not been sitting in the yard for an extended period. A sample may be contaminated by outside elements (like bugs) which may lead to inaccurate readings. Also, if a sample has been frozen or overheated, it can also affect the readings and therefore the diagnosis. However, you choose to bring the sample to us is up to you – but please bring it in a container (many people choose bags, Tupperware containers, etc.) with your pet’s name clearly labeled on the outside.  

If you have any questions or if you’re curious if your pet is due for their fecal screening, please give us a call at 616-396-7420.

How to collect for a fecal smear

Your veterinarian may request to run a Fecal Smear test if your pet is experiencing consistent loose stools. The purpose of a Fecal Smear test is to check for bacterial growth, so it’s important that the same is submitted within four hours of collection. The fecal sample should be, at minimum, the size of a quarter for accurate in-house reading, and brought to us in a container or plastic bag with your pet’s name labeled on the outside. To ensure a correct diagnosis, the fecal sample must remain unfrozen, as that can affect bacterial growth in fecal matter.  

If you have any questions or if you’re curious if your pet is a good candidate for a fecal smear test, please give us a call at 616-396-7420.