That Difficult Sample Collection 

D. E. Larsen, DVM

Gigi was resting on Betty’s lap when I entered the exam room. Gigi was probably a Chihuahua mix, and she was getting a little older, and she was now really overweight.

“Hi, Betty! How is Gigi doing this afternoon?” I asked. 

“She hasn’t been feeling very well the last couple of weeks,” Betty said. “And now she is starting to leave puddles on the floor. I noticed today, when I wiped up one of her puddles, that there was not a lot of color to her urine.”

“That sounds like there might be some problems,” I said. “Are these puddles small or large?”

“They are big puddles, and they seem to be occurring more frequently,” Betty said. “But you can see by looking at her, she hasn’t missed too many meals.”

“We are going to have to do some blood work to see what’s going on with Gigi,” I said.

“I am on a pretty strict budget for her,” Betty said. “Ralph is getting tired of putting up with her anyway, and then this morning, when he got up, he stepped in one of her puddles and almost fell. Needless to say, that didn’t do anything to endear her to him.”

“We are possibly looking at some kidney failure or diabetes,” I said. “At least, that is where we need to start looking.”

“Can you do that with just a urine sample?” Betty asked.

“Well, that would give a good glimpse at what is going on with her,” I said. “But Betty, I will be honest with you, collecting urine from an overweight female Chihuahua is probably one of the hardest sample collections we do. It is almost impossible to collect it with a needle without sedation. The minute we try that, when she is awake, she will become nothing but a snapping turtle with teeth. And any other method is just as difficult.”

“Can we collect it off the floor?” Debbie, my high school assistant, asked.

“That will work for this sample,” I said. “We can get a better sample later if we need it.”

“I think I can get your sample,” Debbie said as she scooped up Gigi from the exam table. “I’ll take her in the back. I’ll just be a minute.”

Debbie grabbed a syringe from the drawer and headed out the door.

“This might be interesting,” I said to Betty, who had a wry smile on her face.

Just as she said, Debbie returned after only a brief moment. She handed me a syringe of urine and set Gigi back on the exam table.

Betty smiled, “I see, one of the hardest collections you do,” she said.

We looked at Gigi’s urine. There was no glucose in the urine. The specific gravity was high enough that kidney failure was probably not the issue.

“Gigi’s urine looks like there might not be a major problem,” I said. “Have you changed her diet recently?” 

“As a matter of a fact, Ralph picked up a cheap bag of food at the store the other day,” Betty said. “Do you think that could do it?”

“I have seen that before,” I said. “If you’re on a limited budget, let’s change out the food to a prescription diet and watch her close for a few days. I will have Sandy give you an appointment for Friday, just to recheck her urine.”

“Will Debbie be here Friday?” Betty asked.

“You think I couldn’t get urine out of Gigi?” I asked with a smile.

“You said it would be hard, and she seemed to do it so easily,” Betty said. “Maybe you should be paying her more.”

“Maybe, I should watch her and learn how she accomplished the chore so fast,” I said. “But yes, we will make the appointment in the afternoon, and Debbie will be here.”

Betty went out the door with a small bag of Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D and instructions to put the cheap food in the garbage.

“Ralph won’t be happy with the price of this food,” Betty said.

“Have him add the office call fee to the cost of the cheap food, and he will think it is quite a bargain,” I said.


Betty came through the door on Friday afternoon carrying Gigi and with a broad smile on her face.

“I hope that smile means that Gigi is better,” Sandy said.

“The change in food solved the problem almost immediately,” Betty said. “But I thought I should still have her urine rechecked anyway.”

“I think that is all that Doctor wanted today,” Sandy said. “Let me see if Debbie can is available to get a sample.”

“That will be great,” Betty said. “I think she embarrassed Doctor Larsen on the last visit. Debbie got the urine sample in a few seconds, and Doctor Larsen had just told me how difficult it was going be to get urine out of my little fat dog.”

“Yes, I heard about it,” Sandy said. “And, you know, it takes quite a bit to embarrass the Doctor. Just a moment, and I’ll grab Debbie.”

I noticed as Debbie was carrying Gigi into the back of the clinic. I gave her a brief moment, then followed her back to the kennel room. The door was open, and I watched from as she set Gigi down in the middle of the room. 

She took a quick step toward Gigi, stomped her foot and clapped her hands, and said, “Gigi,” in a sharp voice. Gigi was startled, and she immediately squatted and peed on the floor. Debbie picked up Gigi and soothed her as she bent down and drew the urine into a syringe. 

She jumped a little when she turned around and saw me watching.

“It works almost every time,” Debbie said. “Is it okay to do it that way?”

“That is pretty inventive,” I said. “I think we will be alright as long as we do it back here in private.”

Gigi’s urine was back to normal. I suspect that cheap dog food has a lot of added salt to enhance the flavor. And Gigi loved the W/D food.

Over the next couple of years, Ralph would grumble about the price, and Betty would always remind him about the expense of his cheap food. Gigi even lost a few pounds on the new diet food. So much so that I no longer called her a little fat dog.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels.

Published by d.e.larsen.dvm

Country vet for over 40 years in Sweet Home Oregon. I graduated from Colorado State University in 1975. I practiced in Enumclaw Washington for a year and a half before moving to Sweet Home to start a practice.

3 thoughts on “That Difficult Sample Collection 

  1. Now I wonder if that would work with my Birman tom … They gave me some water-repellent sand to “fill” a newly cleaned litter box with – but the amount they had would have just been enough to dust the floor – and I do not think that Merlin would have accepted that.
    And no, I do not think it would work with him – he is a pretty cool cat. Cats are not as easily impressed as Chihuahuas.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And I would worry too much if that could not cause some heart attack. But I sent it on to Merlin’s vet, so that she could have a smile, too. My tom is neutered, of course. can’t have an unneutered tom in a rented appartment.

        Liked by 1 person

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