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Answers from vets about your dog:

What Does Your Dog’s Urine Color Mean?

Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Tasse, DVM on Monday, September 21, 2015
Posted September 11, 2015 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Panting dog

Liquid gold. That’s the nickname for urine I was taught in veterinary medical school. We learned urine could provide us with such valuable insight into a  patient’s health, that it was worth its weight in gold. We also learned that the color and consistency of urine, from light yellow to black and clear to cloudy, signaled health or illness. If you’ve ever pondered what your dog’s pee color meant, here’s a description of your dog’s urine spectrum.

What is normal urine color for dogs?
The normal color of urine from a healthy dog or cat is transparent yellow. Veterinarians sometimes refer to this color as “straw yellow,” “pale gold,” “amber,” or “clear yellow.” The most accurate way to assess urine color is to examine it in a clear plastic or glass container against a white background. Urine is made as a normal result of metabolism and removal of cellular wastes. Normal urine is sterile and the color can vary depending on what your pet has recently eaten or drunk. If you’re wondering why urine is yellow, it’s due to the presence of a substance called urochrome which is excreted by the kidneys.

What do different shades of yellow mean?
The intensity of yellow color in normal, clear urine indicates the concentration or dilution of urine. In simplest terms, dilute urine is associated with increased water excretion and concentrated urine correlates with less water. Dilute urine will be almost colorless while highly concentrated urine is bright yellow, amber or honey colored. Minor daily variations in yellow shouldn’t alarm you. Persistent color changes lasting more than a couple of days should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention. Colorless or bright-yellow urine can also be associated with certain medical conditions. In general, yellowish urine is normal.   

What if my dog’s urine is dark yellow?
It’s not unusual for a dog’s urine color to be dark yellow. However, if your dog has dark or bright yellow urine, especially after a long day outdoors, it could signal a need to consume more water.

What if my dog’s urine is dark enough to look orange?
Dark yellow is typically normal in most pets. If the urine is more orange, it may be associated with a condition known as icterus or jaundice. Orange urine may be the result of:

  • Damaged red blood cells
  • Liver disease
  • Severe dehydration
  • Bile duct problems
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Pancreatic problems

If your pet has orange colored pee, additional blood and urine tests need to be performed immediately.

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Ernie has more than 20 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a well-known veterinarian, media personality and author. He is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.