Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Urinalysis: dipstick analysis

Contributor(s): Michael Waters, Jenna Richardson, Vetstream Ltd


  • Changes in chemical and physical characteristics of urine can occur with many disease processes, including urinary tract disease, hepatic disease, hematological disorders, endocrinopathies, neoplasia and musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Canges seen in the urine can therefore be a useful indicator for disease.
  • Urinary screening of patients is a worthwhile, informative and inexpensive test in practice.
  • Complete urinalysis should include sediment examination   Urinalysis: centrifuged deposit  and urine specific gravity reading.


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  • Determine specific gravity by refractometer.

Dipstick specific gravity does not correlate well with refractometry.

  • Methods for applying urine to dipstick:
    • EITHER: Rapid, complete immersion of the dipstick into the urine with immediate shaking off of excess urine. The dipstick should be held level to avoid run-off between pads.
    • OR: A 1 ml syringe can be used to apply droplets of urine to each individual pad while on a flat surface. Excess is shaken off and the dipstick held in a horizontal plane. This will prevent any contamination and color run from neighboring pads.
  • The diagnostic pads on the dipstick should be checked for color against the reference range at the correct time interval.


  • Readily and inexpensively performed in-house.
  • All external laboratories.

Technique (intrinsic) limitations

  • Urine specific gravity reading is unreliable.

Technician (extrinsic) limitations

  • Interpretation of results is dependent on the technicians determination of color change.
  • Care should be taken to avoid blotting between pads, which may distort the color and deem results inaccurate.
  • Following the same approach for every analysis results in consistent findings and allows the technician to develop experience.
  • Results should be read at the advised time intervals, alterations in this leads to inaccuracies.

Result Data

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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Garibaldi B A et al(1987)Hematuria in rabbits. Lab Anim Sci37(6), 769-772.

Other sources of information

  • Carpenter J W (2012)Exotic Animal Formulary.4th edn. Elsevier, Saunders, Missouri.
  • Meredith A & Flecknell P (2006)BSAVA Manual of Rabbit Medicine and Surgery.2nd edn. BSAVA, Gloucester. pp 49-50.