I am always looking for ways to better improve the lives of my two babes and the lives of my clients. A huge component of my job is answering questions my clients have about their dogs health;
"What do you think is going on with his/her ear?"
"Does this look weird to you?"
"_________ has diarrhea again..."
Now I have to be clear, I am not a Vet, so I am very careful to never offer my clients medical advice, but I may make a recommendation to visit their Vet or try some pumpkin or sweet potato to harden up loose stools. One thing I can't do is talk to a dog and find out what's ailing them. In fact, that's a huge burden for me as a dog momma and professional. I can't tell you how many times I wish I could just ask Tallulah; how is she feeling today? If her hips hurt? if her tummy is upset...? Now that she is getting up there in age, I guess about 13 Y.O., I worry more and more everyday about her health and well being.
The reality is, we really are stuck running to the Vet for any little ailment our dogs run into. With no other way to find an explanation as to what might be going on or ability to ask them what might be hurting, deep set, systemic health issues can be hard to detect in dogs until they are well underway and our pups are showing symptoms...enter: Fitpet Ahead.
Fitpet Ahead is an Urinalysis test you can perform for your dogs or cats in the comfort of your home. It is a simple test you administer that takes 60 seconds to give you results and will test against 10 different preventable health issues. It works in conjunction with an App on your phone that will process your urine test with 99% accuracy. It will test against 10 different parameters that can help early detect things such as Diabetes, Renal Failure, U.T.I, Bladders stones and more! To be clear, this isn't going to replace your Vet, but early detection can help you be prepared, start health management and steer the conversation with your Veterinarian.
My experience using Fitpet Ahead:
The first thing to do is open your test and read the small provided brochure. It will have images to suggest Urine collection and instructions on how to download the APP. To download the APP from the Android or Apple store, search for "Fitpet" in the store. The App itself is free to use and there are No ADs! Yay!
I set up Hunter and Tallulah's profiles, complete with photos, in a snap. All the weight for the pets is listed in kilograms, so have your google search set to convert KG to pounds, unless of course you are a mathematical genius or know your dogs weight in KG.
Once you have their profiles set up its time to get to collecting that Urine! I used the Ahead+ kit which came complete with a sterile cup and non absorbent pee pad to collect the urine with. I highly recommend purchasing the full kit, however, if you choose to purchase just the test itself you can simply use a regular pee pad. Be sure to use the non-absorbent side of the pad (so flip it upside down) when collecting the urine.
For my tests I started with Hunter and used the sterile cup. Now, I thought this was going to be pretty easy but.... It was the longest part of the test. Hah! Hunter got very suspicious of me hovering over him and every time I would out the cup under him to collect he'd just stop peeing. I did eventually get a little bit of urine in the cup and it was definitely enough to complete the test. If you want to see how much, or rather how little urine I collected, you can watch the IGTV video @dogwalkerlife.
I prepped my work area with a regular pee pad to kind of mitigate the urine situation. I also completed the tests and photographed the strips outside on my stoop to get the lighting just right. In order to get an accurate test you have to be sure there are no shadows or "flash" highlights. The APP has a timer built in so the urine stays on the strip for a minimum of 60 seconds before the actual test. It's fine if it's on there for a little longer, just not less than. But, literally the way the APP is designed it is impossible for you to not have it on there for 60 seconds.
For Tallulah's collection I used the provided Pee pad from the Ahead+ for dog kit. She was such a good sport and went pee right on the pee pad. GOOO LULU! Then I followed the same procedure for testing the urine by dipping the test strip into the urine and then lining it up on the color chart. I think one of the coolest feature of this test is the way the APP analyzes the urine test strip against the color chart for you. So, instead of you trying to compare color square and determine if the ph balance is high or low or if the square is green, yellow green or yellowish; the APP rapidly analyzes the strip against the provided chart to check for discrepancies in color and determine normal or suspect ranges.
The Results are in:
Hunter's test came back as mostly normal! However, his Specific gravity showed in the "suspect" range. It was too high. So, what does this mean? Most likely, that Hunter is dehydrated/ not drinking enough water. Which, honestly, I am not surprised by. I also learned long ago that Kibble will naturally dehydrate them. While I know this, I sometimes forget to add a significant amount of water to their. After these results though, I am very certain I need to get better at doing this.
If your dogs eat a kibble diet consider adding 1:1 ratio of water to their food. I will also note that it's pretty cold outside right now and so my dogs aren't really "feeling" thirsty. If this is the case for you too, consider adding bone broth or coconut water to their water to make it more appealing and delicious to encourage more drinking.
Tallulah's test came back with two results in the suspect range.
The first shows that her ph balance balance is low. Essentially this test shows that her urine is a bit acidic which can be a result of a high protein diet. However, it could also just be an anomaly on how the test strip processed the urine (hence the con about it being open to interpretation).
Tallulah also had a high suspect range for her Specific Gravity as well. I attribute this to having collected the sample first thing in the morning when she had just woken up. Like us, dog's bodies are made up significantly of water and after an 8 hour period of sleep with no water intake they too wake up a touch dehydrated. I am also taking the fact that both my dogs clearly need more water pretty seriously and have been very diligent about adding water to their food since their tests results have come in.
When might I get concerned? Some basic research can help guide you. For instance, if the specific gravity were low it would indicate too much water consumption. Excessive hydration can be a sign of serious illnesses such as diabetes. Diabetes causes dry mouth and dehydration as a symptom which would then cause your pet to start drinking more or excessive water while maybe not having accidents. On the flip side not enough water could indicate a bladder infection. Looking at accompanying symptoms can help you determine if a trip to your Vet might be necessary. For instance, if you notice a drastic change in weight, eyesight and the test came back "suspect" low, then perhaps diabetes might be a possibility. Or if you notice your dog is also having trouble urinating or seems to be frequently urinating and the test came back suspect high, then a bladder infection might be at play.
Who does this test benefit? I really see this as a tool for those who are experiencing concerns of serious renal issues or those with cats who might already have Renal issues. Those who maybe notice something suspicious or whose pet has had a sudden change in energy. This test can be great in between Vet visits and the diagnostic used is actually more accurate than the spectroscope used by a Vet. Let's be clear though, this is not a diagnostic tool as much as it is early detection to help you see where things might be a little off. If your senior pet seems uncomfortable while urinating or maybe is having more accidents in the house, I would say jump in and get this diagnostic kit, it could help you make changes or get them to a vet for medication before their condition worsens and their pain increases.
I can definitely see recommending this test to clients in the very near future. U.T.I's are very common in both puppies and senior pets and sometimes, what some think is a behavioral problem is actually your dog trying to tell you something... they don't feel well.
You purchase you very own Fitpet Ahead Kit here. For just $16.99 you can get answers and insights to your pets health and start making better decisions to support their overall health and well being and get ahead of serious illnesses. Be sure to check out my step by step walk through of my tests on my IGTV.