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Ask a Vet: Urine can ID problems with your pet
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Urine trouble — I see it almost every day.

Be it the wrong color (red, for example), the wrong location (not on the bathmat), or even the wrong smell (you get the idea), urine is extremely useful in diagnosing disease.

But a few popular misconceptions regarding urine exist. Most notably, my clients often seem to think the kidneys don’t have any problems unless the urine volume begins to drop significantly.

When I talk with an owner about their pet having early kidney disease, they often say “He pees more now than he ever has before, how can the kidneys be bad?”

It’s complicated.

The kidneys are one of the more elegant organs. You probably think of them as urine factories, and they are. But the urine is the waste product for what they are really up to.

The first function of the kidneys is to help balance the fluid volume in the body. They monitor blood pressure and govern how much fluid passing through them is resorbed and how much is sent to the bladder for elimination. This is often the first function to decrease, meaning early kidney disease may give decreased resorbtion and higher fluid volume production.

However, increased urine production can occur with diabetes, bladder infections or even nervous habits such as overdrinking. A urinalysis can help differentiate. Depending on the results, blood work may be warranted to determine the underlying problem.

The second function is to filter toxins out of the bloodstream. When this function decreases, blood work will show the levels increasing.

A third function of the kidneys is production of hormones to affect other organs. Many chronic kidney disease patients are anemic because the kidneys produce a hormone to stimulate red blood cell production in the bone marrow. Again, blood work will show this.

A final function is producing hormones to maintain lean tissue mass, especially muscle. Lack of these can yield rapid wasting of the body.

So if your pet is peeing everywhere, and your veterinarian recommends tests instead of just antibiotics, now you know why.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at

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