Dropped-Off Urine Samples

Cat rubbing its head against a reclining dog's head

Occasionally, we agree to test a dropped-off urine sample to make a tentative, preliminary diagnosis of a possible health problem or monitor an ongoing condition. Here’s how dropped-off samples fit into our workflow.

On a typical day, our veterinarians are booked solid, seeing one pet after another—most by appointment and a few worked in if the need is urgent and we can manage it without being too disruptive to our schedule.

To keep things running smoothly, our technicians always run lab tests first for patients currently in the clinic. Our veterinarians interpret those test results immediately so they can make their diagnosis, prescribe treatment and send clients and patients on their way.

Our technicians work in tests for dropped-off samples as time permits, leaving the results for a veterinarian to review and interpret after all animals in the clinic have been cared for. Often, our doctors don’t find time to review these results until late in the day or even the following day. For dropped-off samples, our goal is to interpret the results and contact the client within 24 hours.

Regardless of turnaround time, our biggest concern with dropped-off urine samples is that test results alone don’t give us enough information to provide good medical care.

It’s important for your pet’s health for you to bring him or her in for an appointment when symptoms appear so we can better understand the possible causes of infections. In addition to testing urine—which we do during the appointment—we talk to you about symptoms and do a physical exam, looking for bladder stones or infections in the outer urinary area that could be contributing to the problems.

Without a hands-on physical exam, we usually don’t have enough information to make a reliable diagnosis, and we ordinarily can’t prescribe medicine on the basis of a dropped-off sample test result. In nearly all cases, testing a dropped-off sample is not a substitute for a proper physical exam.