Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Urinalysis: dipstick analysis

Contributor(s): Kathleen P Freeman


  • Changes in chemical and physical characteristics of urine occur in many diseases and include urinary tract disease, hepatic disease, hematological disorders, endocrinopathy, neoplasia, musculoskeletal disease and hepatic encephalopathy.
  • These changes in characteristics can predict disease.
  • Therefore, used as a screening test in any ill patient.
    Always do complete urinalysis including sediment examination.


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  • Determine specifc gravity by refractometer.
    Dipstick specific gravity does not correlate well with refractometry.
  • Rapid, complete immersion of the dipstick with immediate shaking off of excess urine as well as holding the dipstick level is needed to avoid run-off between pads.
  • Compare the color change of dipstick to the reference range at the correct time.


  • Can be performed in-house by most veterinary practices.
  • All external laboratories.



  • Low to high.


  • Low to moderate.

Technique (intrinsic) limitations

  • Urine specific gravity reading on dipstick is unreliable.

Technician (extrinsic) limitations

  • Standardized approach for every analysis results in consistent findings and allows the technician to develop experience.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMedResource and PubMed.
  • Brobst D (1989) Urinalysis and associated laboratory procedures. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 19(5), 929-949.
  • McCaw D L, Fleming E J & Mikiciuk M G (1989) Interpreting the results of urinalysis - a key to diagnosing renal disorders. Vet Med 84(3), 281-286.

Other sources of information

  • Kaneko J J (1997) Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals. 5th edn. Harvey J W & Bruss M L (eds). Academic Press, Boston.
  • Duncan J R, Prasse K W & Mahaffey E A (1994) Veterinary Laboratory Medicine Clinical Pathology. 3rd edn. Iowa University Press, Ames, Iowa.