This story was updated July 2018.
If you are the caretaker of a paraplegic dog or cat you are probably all too familiar with the frustrating problem of recurring Urinary Tract Infections. Paralyzed pets are prone to UTIs and when they get an infection it leaves them feeling uncomfortable or even sick. It sends you to the veterinarian’s office for repeated tests and treatments. The whole process becomes a difficult time consuming cycle.
Recently, while I was reading a post on another pet blog, I learned how to test pets for urinary tract infections at home with a new kit that hit the marketplace. It’s an urinalysis test made by Petnostics. The kit is inexpensive, easy to use and thorough. All you need is a smart phone to get the results.
My paraplegic dog Sophie didn’t have many Urinary Tract Infections, but the two she did have were awful for both of us. I missed all of the warning signs and she ended up with a severe infection. Sophie had to go on some pretty potent antibiotics which were hard on her body.
Overall we were lucky in treating Sophie’s occasional UTIs, but I know for many pet parents this is an ongoing struggle.
I contacted Petnostics and asked if I could review their urine test kit on my healthy dog Bailey. They said their kit could be used for any dog or cat and they immediately sent one to me. Later in this post I’ll discuss our experience, but first I thought I should share some information about Urinary Tract Infections in paralyzed and incontinent pets.
Why are incontinent pets prone to UTIs?
An article from VeterinaryPartner.com explained that UTIs happen when bacteria grows in the bladder, urethra or kidneys. Most infections are found in the bladder.
The bladder is sterile and in a healthy dog or cat so it is rare for bacteria to grow there. On the flip side, the surrounding external genital area has lots of bacteria and so does a pet’s environment. Infections occur when those bacteria are allowed to enter into the bladder.
Pets that are paralyzed are also typically incontinent. This makes them more vulnerable to bacteria growth for a variety of reasons. Some incontinent dogs and cats are not on a regular bathroom schedule so urine sits in their bladder too long. Others are not manually expressed completely which allows urine to remain and bacteria to multiply. Incontinent pets can also become disposed to UTIs when their bodies leak or dribble urine or when they stay in a diaper or a harness for extended periods of time. And paraplegic pets are more prone to infections because of all the human handling they receive.
Pets with a UTI show signs of:
- Drinking excessive amounts of water
- Urinating only small amounts at a time
- Urinating frequently and in multiple spots
- Have blood in their urine
- Some pets do not show any symptoms until an infection gets bad or pet parents report an ammonia odor coming from their dog or cat.
How the Petnostics urine test kit works
The kit works with a free app that turns your smartphone into a urine analyzer. I downloaded the Petnostics app onto my cell phone without any problems.
- The kit comes with a plastic cup and an integrated urine test strip on the lid.
- You collect the urine in the cup and firmly attach the lid.
- The cup is then turned upside down for a few seconds so the urine wets the strip on the lid.
- Return the cup to the upright position
- Open the app and follow the directions to align the grid on the screen with the lid on the cup. The app scans the information and reports back on 10 different items.
The urinalysis reports on Glucose, Bilirubin, Ketone, Specific Gravity, Blood, pH, Protein, Urobilinogen, Leukocyte and Nitrite in the urine. It explains the range for normal values and gives you a definition for each compound.
The details can then be shared with your veterinarian to determine if your dog or cat needs further treatment.
My personal experience with Petnostics
I read all of the instructions, watched the helpful video on the Petnostics website and downloaded the app without any problems. Then I added the information they requested about Bailey. My biggest concern was whether Bailey would allow me to gather a sample, but this went surprisingly well. I slipped the cup under her and collected the urine.
Next I tightened the lid on sample and tipped it upside down. I opened the app and followed the directions which asked me to align the lid inside a circle on the app’s screen. My circle didn’t want to line up the way it should, but the app seemed to recognize this and it guided me to my phone’s camera. I took a manual picture of the lid and the app automatically emailed it to Petnostics.
The next morning there was an email telling me to go back to the app to read the results of Bailey’s test. The results were easy to read and understand. They also gave Bailey an overall score that said, “All parameters look normal.” Bailey did not any a urinary tract infection and her urine was healthy.
The Petnostics test was great. It was simple to use and understand. I think it could be a valuable tool for pet owners who are coping with reoccurring UTIs in their incontinent dog or cat.
Cost of the kit
Ways to prevent Urinary Tract Infections
- Keep your dog on a strict bathroom schedule. Our schedule was to take Sophie out three to four times a day: before breakfast, midday, after dinner and before bed.
- Learn how to express your dog’s bladder. Some paralyzed dogs leak urine or dribble and others, like Sophie, are unable to urinate altogether. Expressing their bladder will help in all cases.
- Make sure your dog’s bladder is completely EMPTY. This is one of the major causes of infections because small quantities of urine collect in the bladder and bacteria forms.
- Watch for a change in the smell of the urine. A strong ammonia smell could spell trouble.
- Watch for a change in the color of the urine. Bright yellow points to a dehydrated dog and dark urine could indicate an infection or blood in the urine.
- Be on the lookout for any discomfort your dog shows while being expressed. While Sophie didn’t have any sensation of pain, her body certainly sensed the infection and was protecting itself by resisting me when I pressed on her belly.
Here is a video that further explains how to test for pet for Urinary Tract Infections at home.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated by Petnostics for this review or information. As the former pet owner of a paraplegic dog I reviewed the urine test kit as a service to other pet parents. This is my personal experience with the product.