Cranimals Organic Pet Supplements has launched an at-home urinary test kit for dogs and cats that lets you "Monitor and track your pets health in an accurate and economical way, avoiding costly, unnecessary trips to the vet" (while not avoiding costly, unnecessary supplements, I assume).

The test claims to diagnose urinary tract infections (UTIs) by  "detecting blood, leukocytes (AKA white blood cells) and nitrite in animal urine." Unfortunately, it cant.

  • Blood in the urine does not necessarily mean there is an infection (i.e. this is a non-specific sign). In fact, a minority of cats with blood in their urine have an infection. They are much more likely have another problem like idiopathic cystitis that needs to be treated differently than an infection.
  • Urine test strips for white blood cells are notoriously useless in animals. Maybe they have a better, more useful version, but I doubt it.  The best way to detect these cells in the urine is to look for them using a microscope.
  • Nitrite can be produced by bacteria in the urine but it has little to no diagnostic value in dogs and cats.

There’s no mention about any specific evaluation of the test (i.e. they haven’t checked to see if the test actually does what it’s supposed to). By the look of the picture, it seems to simply be a urine dipstick in a fancy holder marked up a couple thousand percent to make money. Actually, it seems to be an inferior type of dipstick since it only tests for 3 things, two of which are useless.

Not surprisingly, the test is to be used in conjunction with their supplements (which probably explains why a supplement company decided to enter the diagnostic testing business).

The test isn’t exactly cheap either: $39.95 for dogs and $49.95 for cats (the only difference to me being the cat kit comes with a bit of non-absorbent litter to put in the litterbox to collect urine, with a nice markup there too). While marketed as a way to save money on veterinary bills, think hard about what it will really do. Beyond potentially providing misleading information that could impact proper care, it will probably end up costing owners more:

  • If the test is negative and the pet has urinary tract issues, it needs to be seen by a veterinarian to find out what’s going on.
  • If the test is positive, the pet needs to be seen by a veterinarian to get treated. No competent veterinarian is going to prescribe a treatment based on an at-home test like this. So, the full range of testing will be done anyway.

Ultimately, if the pet is sick, it needs to see a veterinarian. If it’s not sick, there’s no indication for testing like this.

If you want to know some real facts about diagnosing UTIs in dogs and cats, check out the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases Guidelines for diagnosis and management of UTIs in dogs and cats.

If you still think this test is worth the money, I’ve got some great oceanfront property in Saskatoon that I’ll sell you (see photo). The water skiing is particularly good in January.