Refrigerate Urine Samples from Pets
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

 

Q. How are urine samples handled?
 
A. If urine is left at room temperature for even 2 hours, significant changes can occur which can greatly affect the results of a urinalysis.
Component Significant Change
Cells (e.g., red blood cells, white blood cells) Cells in urine start to break down, and then they will not be visible under the microscope. Since the presence of these cells often signifies infection or inflammation, an erroneous diagnosis could be made.
Bacteria Bacteria reproduce. A few bacteria in a urine sample may be normal, however, large numbers would indicate infection. A urine sample in which the bacteria are allowed to grow could erroneously indicate a urinary tract infection.
pH Urine generally becomes alkaline at room temperature. Therefore, the pH test would be erroneous. In addition, crystals which may tend to form in acid urine would dissolve in the alkaline urine. Since crystals in the urine are a significant finding, this abnormality would be missed.

A refrigerated urine sampleTo minimize changes in the urine, always collect the urine sample in a clean, dry container, and take it to your veterinarian's office immediately. If there will be a wait, refrigerate the sample. If the temperature is warm, consider placing the urine in a cooler during transportation. DO NOT FREEZE A URINE SAMPLE.

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