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If your dog is showing a particular symptom or dealing with a doggie ailment, then anything you can show the vet that might be related to “the problem” will be helpful when it comes to diagnosing and/or treating your pet.
Here’s when you should take bodily fluid samples to the vet… what type of samples to take (e.g. dog pee or poop)… and how to gather & transport these samples.
When To Take Bodily Fluids As Samples
- If your dog is having trouble urinating, then take a sample of his pee to the vet.
- If you’ve seen blood in your dog’s urine, then take a pee sample to the vet.
- If your dog has diarrhea (or a looser than normal stool for several days in a row), then take a sample of your dog’s feces to the vet.
- If you’ve seen blood or anything strange in your dog’s poop (like worms), then take a stool sample to the vet.
This will save time by preventing the vet assistants from having to “catch” such samples themselves when they’re examining your dog in the office.
How to get a urine sample from your pet…
Some dogs are more receptive to this process than others — simply because many prefer to pee in private and don’t like to be disturbed. But, not my dog. He’s so easygoing… you can do just about anything to (or around) him, and he’s completely at ease.
It’s important to “catch” the pee in mid-stream, while your dog is urinating. So you have to watch your dog’s body language closely, in order to be there when he’s about to go. (Your best bet is to gather your sample first thing in the morning, when your dog has a full bladder.)
The trick is, getting the container “in the line of fire” quickly enough — before your dog is done peeing or he’s been spooked by you coming at him while he’s urinating. (It’s easier if you use as large of a container as possible. I use the same old plastic food storage bowl each time. I disinfect with bleach between “catches”.)
Then, in order to preserve all of the “goodies” within the pee sample, transfer the urine into a clear plastic zip-type baggie (I use the very small snack-size bags) and place it in the refrigerator. (You can put the baggie inside of another larger bowl — with a lid — if you have issues with contents like this being inside your refrigerator.)
Keep in mind, the fresher the better. So try to get your dog’s sample to the vet within minutes — not hours!
The best part: If your dog isn’t showing any signs of distress, discomfort, or lack in energy, then most vets will allow you to just drop off a sample of your pet’s feces or urine — rather than having to load up the dog and take him to the vet. In most cases, this also means, that no “office visit” charges will appear on your vet bill. If your vet is like mine, then you’ll simply be charged for any lab results or testing fees, as well as any medications that your vet prescribes.
It is rare that you would take a vomit sample (without your dog) to the vet. That’s because vomit is a sure sign of something bad going on in your pet’s system, and 99% of the time, an actual visit to the vet is required. It can sometimes be helpful to take a sample of the vomit when you (and the dog) visit the vet’s office. To gather a sample, simply scoop up whatever you can and place it in a plastic zip-type baggie.
When To Take Dog Grooming Samples
- If your dog has dry skin
- If your dog has oily skin
- If your dog is losing fur
- If your dog is scratching a lot
In these cases, you will want to show the vet any vitamins, medicines, heartworm preventatives, and flea & tick repellents that your dog is currently using. Why? Because your dog might be allergic to certain brands, or the contents within them.
It would also be a good idea to take along the bottle of shampoo & other grooming sprays that you’ve been using.
The vet can tell you if your dog’s grooming supplies are good brands, and if there’s anything in them that could be hurting — or helping — your dog’s skin and coat. (This is how I learned that our dog’s favorite shampoo, Spa4Pawz, is loaded with ingredients that are great for his skin.)
When To Take Dog Food Samples
- If your dog has suddenly become a picky eater
- If your dog experiences infrequent vomiting
TIP: Frequent vomiting leaves no time for sample collection… just get your dog to the vet!
You’ll want to take along the actual bag of food that you’ve been feeding your dog. (Or, if it’s a popular brand, simply mention the name — and type — to your vet.)
If you’ve recently changed your dog’s diet, it’s always wise to share this information with your veterinarian. Even if you’re providing all-natural foods or a home-cooked diet, your vet needs to know this.
When To Take Dog Chews & Toy Samples
- If you think your dog has something stuck in his teeth, mouth or throat
- If you suspect your dog has an object trapped in his stomach or intestines
In these cases, you will want to take the bone he was last chewing on… the child’s play toy that your dog got ahold of, or a sample of some other household object that you suspect your pet may have ingested.
The same is true if your dog has started behaving differently after playing with a certain dog bone or chew toy. It is possible for parts of dog-friendly chews to break off and wreak havoc on your dog’s innards.
When To Take Plant, Dirt, or Stick Samples
- If you suspect that your dog has ingested some portion of a plant (poisonous or non-poisonous), contaminated dirt, rocks, or sticks.
You never know how your dog’s system will hold up to foreign, germ-infested substances like these.
If there’s a chance that he’s eaten some or all of the items in question, then your vet needs to know it. Sometimes just a phone call to the vet will suffice — and allay your fears at the same time.
The point to all of this is… any clues can be helpful to a vet. So whatever samples (or examples) you can provide, the better!
Other Dog Emergency Tips
- Puppyproof Your Home – 10 ways to make your dog’s world safer (…things you might not think of).
- Dogs, Doors & Windows – how to prevent your dog from escaping
- Common Household Items That Can Kill Your Dog – everything from poisonous plants to candles… pills… chewing gum… toilet seats… garbage pails… and paper shredders.
- Why Alcohol & Dogs Don’t Mix – not even the ice from alcoholic drinks!
- Pet-Proofing – it’s like babyproofing, on 4 legs.
I like to help Dog Parents find unique ways to do things that will save time & money — so I write about "outside the box" Dog Tips and Dog Hacks that most wouldn't think of. I’m a lifelong dog owner — currently have 2 mixed breed Golden Aussies that we found abandoned on the side of the road as puppies. I've always trained my own dogs and help friends train theirs, as well. Professionally, I worked at a vet and have several friends who are veterinarians — whom I consult with regularly. (And just because I love animals so much, I also worked at a Zoo for awhile!) I've been sharing my best ideas with others by blogging full-time since 1998 (the same year that Google started… and before the days of Facebook and YouTube). My daily motivation is to help first-time dog owners be better prepared from the first day your new puppy enters your home. I like to help dog owners understand what's 'normal' and what you can expect in terms of living with and training your dog — how to get through the ups & downs of potty training, chewing, teaching commands, getting your dog to listen, and everything else that takes place during that hectic first year! When I'm not training, walking, grooming, or making homemade treats for my dogs, you will find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I've written over 500 articles for dog owners on this site!