How To Get Urine From Dogs & Cats

Updated March 29, 2021

Has your vet asked you to collect a urine sample from your pet? Don’t despair! I’ve been guiding people through it for 25 years and no-one has failed yet.

Before we start, it might help to know why a pee sample can be important.

Why Is Urinalysis Needed?

With urine analysis (commonly called urinalysis), you can:

The best container for urine collection is the yellow-top pot you get from your vet. If you don’t have one of these, any glass jar or plastic container will do as long as it’s clean and dry. Just make sure that anything sugary has been completely removed to avoid a false diagnosis of diabetes.

How To Get Urine From A Small Dog

Collecting urine from dogs is easiest on a walk. The best time to try is after a long rest, such as first thing in the morning or when you get home from work. For large dogs, all you have to do is hold the container under the stream. And maybe wear gloves!

Small dogs, especially females, urinate close to the ground and pass it quickly. Most of the time, whenever you try to put a container nearby, they get spooked and stop.

There are three tricks here:

  1. Collect the urine in a long flat container without a high lip. A kidney dish works well, but at home you could use the edge of a takeaway plastic container, a saucer or a tray. Once collected, you can pour it into the urine pot.
  2. Alternatively, make a handle for the urine pot using an old coat hanger, like in the picture above. Then you don’t need to bend down, and your dog will be less spooked.
  3. Be persistent! Even following the points above, your dog will probably keep stopping at first. However, after a while they settle down and decide that despite your weird behaviour, they still need to pee. This usually happens with 24 hours but could take a few weeks in very nervous animals.

How To Get Urine From A Cat

Urine collection from a cat, whether male or female is the same. It absolutely requires that they are already comfortable using a litter box.

  1. Empty the litter box, then wash and dry it thoroughly.
  2. Fill it with clean, non-absorbent material*
  3. Monitor your cat until you see them urinate in the box
  4. Pour off the sample into a urine pot

*Suitable nosorb litter includes:

  • Thicker plastic shopping bags (e.g. from department or clothing stores) cut into fine strips
  • Broken up plastic or styrofoam pieces
  • Old Lego®, cleaned and dried first
  • Aquarium pebbles
  • Commercially available litter replacements such as Kit4Cat & Medicat

Some cats are such creatures of habit that they’ll even go into an empty box. See the help section below if your cat only toilets outside.

How Much Urine Is Needed?

Basic urinalysis can be performed on as little as two mLs of urine (a half teaspoon). That will allow a dipstick reading for blood, pH, protein, glucose, ketones, bilirubin, plus a urine concentration. The cost of this test is listed here.

We prefer you to collect as much as you can to allow for repeat testing, or to submit it to a laboratory.

How Long Is A Sample Good For?

A urine sample should be analysed on the same day it is collected. Excessive storage causes crystals to form and the pH to rise. Therefore, it is best to only attempt to collect it on the days your vet is open. If there is no other choice, an older sample is still better than nothing.

Should I Refrigerate The Urine?

Refrigeration is not advised or necessary for samples kept at room temperature and submitted on the same day they are collected. Like prolonged storage, it causes crystals to form. This can be important if we are looking for the cause of bladder stones in dogs or urinary obstruction in cats.

For other reasons, refrigeration is less of a concern and it will slow down bacterial overgrowth of the sample.

Help! I Can’t Get A Urine Sample

If all else fails, your vet can collect the sample for you. This is either done with a urinary catheter, or via a needle and syringe. The latter technique is essential if infection is suspected and we wish to culture the bacteria for identification.

One option is to make a regular appointment and prevent your pet urinating for 4 hours beforehand so they have a large bladder. Many times, your vet can collect the sample right there and you can take your pet home again.

Other times, we may need to hospitalise your pet while we wait for the bladder to fill. As a last resort, especially in stressed animals, we may recommend a sedation for urine collection.

Regardless of how we do it, urine provides valuable, and often life-changing information. It’s always worth the effort to get!

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here.

One Reply to “How To Get Urine From Dogs & Cats”

  1. I have collected urine from a male house-cat in the past, and from my little-old-lady cat today. In both instances, I knew about when the cat might pee and I was handy by in the litter room with a clean pill bottle. Both cats were used to me being around the house and often in that room to scoop.

    When the cat enters the box, approach quietly and sit on the floor near by, not like you are interested in the cat. Let the cat start peeing (if you are face-to-face with the cat, move around to the business end) and just reach over and stick that bottle under the stream. Try not to touch the fur or bump the cat in any way. If the cat stops peeing, just freeze in place with attention focused elsewhere and it might start up again. That’s what just happened with my little old lady. I don’t think it even had anything to do with me, she was just getting it going good.

    If it’s going well, let the cat fill the bottle. Too much is better then not enough.

    If the cat is easy to spook, another way might be to sit on the floor by the box with a book or your phone, so when the cat enters the room you are already in place.

    It’s definitely worth trying, before purchasing the special litter and all that goes with that. Good luck!

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