Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

The Pee Pee Dance

by User Not Found | Nov 10, 2012

Gus came into my life when he was just 9 weeks old.  I graduated from college (just before the attacks on the world trade center) and had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, so naturally I moved back in with my parents.  The tough part was convincing my mom that I needed this cute little fluff ball in my life, we had dogs growing up, but he was MY first dog and I was living in HER home.  You may be surprised to learn that college had taught me nothing about raising a puppy, so lesson number one, potty training.   I guess you could say I took a reactive approach rather than a proactive one and my mother’s wall to wall carpets paid the price.  When Gus and I both got the hang of how things were supposed to happen (transIation: I started actually listening to my mom’s advice), I even taught him to ring a bell when he needed to go out, which he still does to this day at the age of ten.  However, it was a long road to potty training for Gus.  Around the general gray area where I thought he should have been reliably house-broken, Gus began a new trick where he would go, leaving a trail of urine, on his way to the door.  Perhaps he was using this to find his way back to the toy basket after going outside?  That combined with the fact that he was a boy and thought he needed to go out every five minutes, made me nuts.  Luckily by that time I was working at my first vet office and as I was describing the events to my vet, he suggested I catch some urine and bring it in to look at.  You want me to do what??  If you have heard these words before and been able to convince yourself that this might be possible, your next thought was probably ok, what do I have at my house that I will never ever put food in again?  Boys are pretty easy right, they lift their leg on everything and are far enough from the ground to reasonably slide something underneath.  Your only real challenge here is to avoid the “splash”.  The girls are a bit more tricky, they hover low to the ground while peeing and do it discretely.  I have three words for you, foil pie plate.  You’re welcome.  The morning of the pee comes with its own set of challenges, you are stressed, wanting to catch that first morning urine (It’s best for testing because it’s the most concentrated and therefore most likely to see what we need to see.  As the day wears on, the urine becomes more dilute, they are making more of it and going to the bathroom more, this makes analyzing it a bit more challenging and not ideal.  A little bit of bacteria, ok, a lot of bacteria = UTI.  You’ll have changed your morning routine, you are following them a little too closely with the leash, or you are out in the backyard in their personal space, they already know something’s up.  Then when they start to pee you get so excited you accidentally run towards them, which naturally causes them to freak out, stop peeing and run away to finish.  Dang!  By this point it hits you what that look from your dog means this morning, he’s thinking, man first my poop and now she’s collecting my pee too?  When you finally are able to catch it, you are so excited and proud of yourself that you do a little happy dance and pride beams from you the rest of the day.  You are the awesome pee collecting ninja, rock on.

You drop your specimen off at the vet’s office on your way to work with a little bigger than normal smile and are a little disappointed in the “ok, thanks” the tech offers you.  What?  Do you know what I went thru to get that?  And you can’t even say, nice work or something? 

When the urine arrives, it’s generally looked at right away.  Not to dampen your efforts further but this isn’t a “clean” catch.  It still has to exit the body from a very dirty location and was put in some sort of container, both of which can add their own bacteria to the sample.  The color can tell us some information about the health of the kidneys and the bladder.  It’s then dipped, with a color coded stick and placed on a machine that can analyze it.  Each color pad is a different test that can tell us if blood or bacteria are present and information like pH, how dilute it is, and whether kidneys are functioning properly, or even if a dog has high glucose levels (like in diabetes).  The urine is then spun in a centrifuge and the sediment is looked at under a microscope.  This microscopic analysis is compared with the results from the dipstick and we can draw conclusions like blood, lots of bacteria and white cells (they fight infection), it must be a urinary tract infection or UTI.  We may also see crystals, which can be a sign of bladder or kidney stones.  Different types of crystals mean different underlying issues like the need for a diet change.  Gus had a mess of bacteria and white cells, so he was placed on antibiotics for two weeks to treat his UTI.  Initially he seemed to get better and luckily my mom felt bad enough for the guy that she didn’t kick us both out.  Unfortunately at the end of his two week treatment, the sprinkling started again.  At this point, we needed a better sample and more testing, so I took Gus to work with me.  Another way to collect urine is called a Cystocentesis.  This involves using a syringe and needle to draw urine directly out of the bladder.  Gus was patient, as always, and let us to do this procedure so we could send his urine off to be grown in culture.  This involves taking small samples and putting them on to special plates that encourage bacteria to grow.  When/if it does, we can see exactly what kind of bacteria is growing and exactly which antibiotic will kill it.  Unfortunately this test can take a week or more, so when Gus’s results came back, we found out that the bacteria that was causing his UTI was not being killed by the antibiotic he was on.  Two courses on the first antibiotics, two weeks on the new antibiotics, for a UTI that lasted nearly two months, his peeing in the house finally stopped.  Unfortunately for him, it was too late and my mom had affectionately begun referring to him as Pee Pee Pants.  Further to his dismay, it caught on and to this day that is what everyone calls him.

Urine collects in the bladder and exits the body thru a tube called the Urethra.  Bacteria can collect on the end of the urethra and get up inside the tube.  Normally the bacteria are flushed out when your dog goes to the bathroom, but sometimes, the bacteria can take hold and start to grow there.  This happens more often for female dogs, simply because of their anatomy.  Their urethras are shorter and wider, which allows bacteria to accumulate more quickly.  Puppies that are always licking themselves are more prone as well.  Mostly commonly, the bacteria that causes UTI is E. coli, in dogs and in humans.  This is because the opening to the urethra is located near the anus and we carry E. coli normally in our gut.  Since your coffee is about to run out, we’ll save crystals and stones and upper urinary issues for another day.  It’s important to get UTI’s treated.  Bacteria can grow and spread quickly and back up in to the bladder or worse, the kidneys.  If you notice your dog licking more, drinking more water, asking to go out more frequently, or having accidents in the house, this may be a sign of UTI.  Don’t forget our furry pals are good at hiding their pain so the hints they are giving you may be a lot more subtle than you think.  Hopefully Gus’s story has given you some helpful tips on a successful collection because chances are, you’ll need to do it at some point, if you haven’t already.  Here’s to channeling your inner ninja.



Katie and Pee Pee Pants        

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