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J Vet Intern Med. 1998 Nov-Dec;12(6):431-5.

Influence of veterinary care on the urinary corticoid:creatinine ratio in dogs.

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Department of Clinical Sciences of Companion Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.


Physical and emotional stresses are known to increase the production and secretion of glucocorticoids by the adrenal cortex in both humans and experimental animals. The urinary corticoid: creatinine (C:C) ratio is increasingly used as a measure of adrenocortical function. In this study we investigated whether a visit to a veterinary practice for vaccination, a visit to a referral clinic for orthopedic examination, or hospitalization in a referral clinic for 1.5 days resulted in increases of the urinary C:C ratio in pet dogs. In experiment 1, owners collected voided urine samples from 19 healthy pet dogs at specified times before and after taking the dogs to a veterinary practice for yearly vaccination. In experiment 2, 12 pet dogs were evaluated in a similar way before and after an orthopedic examination at a referral clinic. In experiment 3, 9 healthy pet dogs were hospitalized for 1.5 days and urine samples were collected before, during, and after this stay. Basal urinary C:C ratios in all experiments ranged from 0.8 to 8.3 x 10(-6). In experiment 1, the urinary C:C ratio after the visit to the veterinary practice ranged from 0.9 to 22.0 x 10(-6). Six dogs had a significantly increased urinary C:C ratio (responders), but in 5 of these dogs the ratio was < or = 10 x 10(-6). In experiment 2, 8 of 12 dogs responded significantly with urinary C:C ratios ranging from 3.1 to 27.0 x 10(-6). In experiment 3, 8 of 9 dogs had significantly increased urinary C:C ratios, ranging from 2.4 to 24.0 x 10(-6), in some or all urine samples collected during hospitalization. In 4 dogs urinary C:C ratios 12 hours after hospitalization were still significantly higher than the initial values. Thus, a visit to a veterinary practice, an orthopedic examination in a referral clinic, and hospitalization can be considered stressful conditions for dogs. A large variation occurs in response, and in individual dogs the increases in urinary C:C ratios can exceed the cutoff level for the diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism. Therefore, urine samples for measurement of the C:C ratio in the diagnosis of hyperadrenocorticism should be collected in the dog's home environment, to avoid the influence of stress on glucocorticoid secretion.

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