Dogs urinate because of a physiological need but also for communicative purposes, but a dog’s urine color can also tell the attentive dog owner a whole lot about a dog’s health status. Knowing what color is a normal, healthy dog’s urine is important so to early recognize signs of trouble. Dog urine may assume a variety of colors depending on several factors such as how much a dog drinks, what a dog has ingested or being affected by a variety of diseases. Knowing what color of urine is normal for your dog when he is healthy, can provide a good parameter to compare to, so that you can see your vet upon noticing the first signs of something unusual.
The Normal Color of Dog Urine
What is the normal color of dog urine? The normal color of dog urine is transparent yellow. The color of your dog’s urine derives from a pigmented substance that is known as “plasma urochrome.” This substance is excreted by the dog’s kidneys and is produced at a constant rate; however, its concentration may vary based on how much a dog drinks.
The quantity of water a dog consumes may therefore change the intensity of the yellow. So if your dog guzzled down a huge amount of water as if there’s no tomorrow, his urine volume would double, causing his urine to be diluted and the yellow color to be half as vivid. However, if your dog happens to drink very little, the urine will become very concentrated, which will lead to darker urine.
So a dog’s urine may normally range from light yellow, yellow to amber and the best way to evaluate the color is by placing a fresh sample in a clear plastic container against a white background, but this is something that should be left for your veterinarian to evaluate.
“Urine color should be evaluated by placing a standardized volume of urine in a standardized clear plastic or glass container and viewing the sample against a white background with the aid of a good light source.”~ Dr. Carl A. Osborne
Discovering Five Abnormal Urine Colors in Dogs
When it comes to the odd urine colors in dogs, there may be several factors that may play a role. For instance, urine color in dogs may appear abnormal because of some underlying medical condition, ingestion of toxins or certain medications and sometimes even ingested substances, even though the latter two are unlikely considering that, by the time they are excreted by the bladder, most foods and drugs lose their colors as they are digested and processed by the dog’s metabolism. While abnormal urine color in dogs may be suggestive of a medical condition or disease, it should also be considered that any unusual colors are not always indicative of health problems, in the same way as dogs may be suffering from medical problems and still retain normal-looking urine. .
Orange Urine in Dogs
When a dog presents with orange urine, this can be concerning. In this case, the color may not be due to the normal presence of plasma urochrome, but instead the abnormal presence of bilirubin, a substance that is excreted by the liver.
Normally, bilirubin is formed by the liver and is excreted in your dog’s urine and feces, but it is not detected for the simple fact that it is bound with certain proteins. However, if the production of bilirubin is beyond normal levels, the excess will be excreted unchanged and this can ultimately contribute to the noticeable color change, explains Vet Internist, a board-certified veterinarian.
A significant overproduction of bilirubin in dogs can cause jaundice (icterus) to manifest causing the white of the eyes and mucous membranes to gain a yellowish tint. While a bright yellow/orange color of urine may be sometimes due to dehydration, a urine sample should be taken to veterinarian to rule out bilirubinuria, suggests veterinarian Dr. Peter.
“The fact that you are not seeing icterus (jaundice) does not mean there is not bilirubin in the urine; we normally do not see icterus until the blood concentration of bilirubin is higher than 2.5mg/dl.”~Dr. Peter.
Pink/Red Urine in Dogs
At times, a dog’s urine may assume a pinkish tint or perhaps the presence of red blood in the dog’s urine (hematuria) may be seen. There may be several causes for this. Affected dogs may be suffering from an inflammation of the bladder, a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, crystals in the urine or kidney problems.
Sometimes, what a dog eats may sometimes cause a reddish tint. For instance, betacyanin contained in beets can cause urine to become red, and people and dogs who ingest them may also get discolored urine. However, affected dogs do not shown any symptoms other than the reddish tint, and the discolored urine should subside within 12 to 24 hours after ingestion, explains veterinarian Dr. Scott.
The best course of action if your dog shows pink urine or blood in it, is to bring the dog to the vet, possibly bringing along a urine sample that was collected in a sterile container so the vet can perform a urinalysis.
Dark Brown Urine in Dogs
Brown urine that somewhat resembles the color of tea may be caused by several factors. Dogs with brown urine may be very dehydrated, but in this case, the urine turns back to normal once the dog drinks more or, in case of severe dehydration, when the dog is given intravenous fluids by the vet.
More serious issues that may cause brown urine in dogs is damage to the dog’s red blood cells causing the release of hemoglobin, which may happen when a dog is exposed to certain toxins. As with orange urine, brown urine may sometimes be caused by presence of bilirubin as seen in dogs with liver problems.
Dark urine in dogs may also occur as a result of muscle inflammation along with muscle damage, a condition known as rhabdomyolysis where the damaged muscles excrete the protein myoglobin in the urine. The muscle damage may be due to crush trauma or strenuous exercise.
And then, once again, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and kidney infections can all also cause dog urine to appear brown, but normally with these conditions you’ll likely see frequent urination and straining as well, explains veterinarian Dr. Gabby.
Cloudy Urine in Dogs
Cloudy urine is another problematic type of urine that requires investigation by a vet. The cloudy appearance is often caused by the presence of pus, crystals, bacteria. Cloudy urine in dogs is most likely suggestive of urinary tract infection, bladder stones or perhaps a prostate infection, especially in male intact dogs.
In a young female puppy, cloudy urine may also be suggestive of puppy vaginitis.
Cloudy urine in a pregnant dog may be sign of the presence of a mucous-like discharge that is common in the final couple of weeks of pregnancy. As with other abnormalities, turbid or cloudy urine in dogs should be checked by a vet.
“Freshly voided urine should be transparent… The transparency or turbidity of urine is commonly estimated by reading newspaper print through a clear container containing the urine sample…Regardless of color, if a freshly collected sample is turbid or cloudy, further evaluation is indicated.”~Dr. Carl A. Osborne
Clear Urine in Dogs
While odd, abnormal urine colors of dog urine may be concerning, a lack of color may be equally concerning such as when the dog’s urine presents as clear, almost water-like. Another warning sign is urine that lacks an odor, that is clear and produced in large quantities and that the dog has a hard time holding.
In this case, clear urine is often present in dogs who are drinking a whole lot (polydipsia) and also urinating a whole lot (polyuria) and this may be triggered by several medical conditions such as kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes, urinary tract infection, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease to just name a few.
A dog urinating clear should therefore be checked by a veterinarian, as it’s not normal for a dog’s urine to be clear, suggests veterinarian Dr. Bob.
Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog’s urine appear abnormal, please see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
DVM360, Discolored urine: What does it mean?, retrived from the web on December 1st, 2016
- Wikimedia, Urine Sample by Turbotorque Publc Domain
- Wikimedia, Orange Urine By James Heilman, MD (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0
- Wikimedia, Hematuria, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
- Wikimedia, Brown Urine By James Heilman, MD (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0
- Wikimedia, Cloudy Urine, By James Heilman, MD (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0
- Wikimedia, U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Ryan C. McGinley Public Domain