The Awesomeness of Urine

I needed to hold out for some snow. You see urine doesn’t mean much to some, in regards to our dogs, unless we can see it! Say good bye to that old saying don’t eat the yellow snow! It turns out yellow snow isn’t so bad, may not taste all that good, but there are some cool things that deserve more attention in regards to that sunburst colored patch in your yard.

Now if you have young babies, have had young babies, have puppies or have gone through the puppy stages in your life time, you’ll know that talking about bodily functions, specifically fluids, is totally normal and acceptable. How does it look, what color, what it smells like, how often, where, and when. This topic is alive an well at most cocktail and dinner parties, for sure the ones I go to…

For humans, urine is that substance that just needs to come out, sometimes when we are prepared and sometimes when we’re not. But it’s a bodily function we all share, and in fact share with all mammals, and the overall chemical composition of urine is remarkably similar between us all (human, dog, elephant, bat…). We can’t make a New Years Resolution like, No Peeing in 2012, it isn’t possible. It would make a cool t-shirt though.

What is urine, why should we give it more attention, and why is it so important to our dogs, both socially and emotionally?

Urea or carbamide is an organic compound with the chemical formula CO(NH2)2. The molecule has two amide (—NH2) groups joined by a carbonyl (C=O) functional group. Again, a way cool t-shirt possibility!

Urea serves an important role in the metabolism of nitrogen-containing compounds by animals and is the main nitrogen-containing substance in the urine of mammals. It is solid, colorless, and odorless. For you asparagus eaters, I can hear your snickers of hah, not mine!, right about now. It is the ammonia in urea that when it collides with water vapor creates an odor. Surprisingly enough, not every person can detect asparagus urine, it turns out only some people carry the special olfactory genes that can detect it. This has been in conversation since around 1702, apparently a lot of people think it’s cool. Urine is highly soluble in water and non-toxic. Dissolved in water it is neither acidic nor alkaline. The body uses it in many processes, most notably nitrogen excretion. Isn’t this awesome in itself? We are creating this substance all by ourselves, without even thinking about it. But wait, it gets better…

So if urine is almost 95% water what is it that makes this liquid so important? Well the amounts of substances present in urine vary with time of day, health of animal, sex of animal, diet and nutrition. The chemical structure of urea is fairly constant, but there are variables, and dogs rely on those variables for information, so do we if we are attentive to a more holistic approach to health.

Through urine, dogs can detect their own health problems, that of others, indicate territory, know if a friend or foe as been by to say hi, what another dog has eaten or not, is someone in the neighborhood in season, is it even a dogs urine?

My four dogs have made me vary curious about urine and the information it gives them, good, bad and indifferent.

$eeker, since puppy hood, would turn his head and smell himself while in the act of urinating. We use to call him the urine connoisseur. And it turns out it isn’t far from the truth. Dogs can detect their hormone/health balance through their urine, which can give them an indication on their overall health. Is everything as it should be?

Story our intact male loves female urine, most intact males do.Urine is canine foreplay, plain and simple. It’s the hormone gift left by a female dog that can arouse any intact male, it leaves a scent trail right to a possible mate, and it indicates if she is ready or not, no words necessary! You’ll hear owners yelling at their male dogs for licking urine, or getting grossed out by it, but in reality it is nature as it’s intended to be. For instance, what I have observed in Story is that he will catch the scent of urine, smell intently, then start to lick. When he begins to lick the base of his tail will rise, which shows arousal, and then he will look up, tongue slightly curled and chatter. His eyes cold not show more enthusiasm. If it is urine from a female in season, then whining and prancing follow, and I know that we will be playing fetch for a long time at home to bring him back to earth. He will smell urine from other species when out hiking, but has never offered or showed interest in licking. Through his love of urine he has also indicated minor health glitches in our females. If he becomes too interested in one of our females, and is constantly licking their genitals,  I know that there is an imbalance or the onset of a uti. We can tend to it in the early stages, and I know if we are on the right tract when his interest wains.

Franny, well she isn’t one to mess around with basic canine urine, sissy stuff. She has no interest in it at all unless it’s hers. But urine from bears, fox, coyote or other predators holds a great interest to her. She will intently smell, roll, and lick when we are out hiking. Her interest is in stronger smelling, other species urine, and she is the only one that knows why. But through her interest in this I have come to learn more about other species habitat and who is hiking with us.We have come across urine marks while out hiking that Franny will not cross and our hike has to take a detour, I’ve never pressed them to go forward if everything they are telling me is to turn around. And it’s all from urine! It was through snow and Franny’s urine that we found some serious health concerns years ago. The amount and color of her urine was more apparent in the snow, and through that combo we were able to catch a major health issue early on and work towards better over all health.

Ocean, she isn’t interested in anyone’s urine, she could careless. She doesn’t like to be sniffed or licked, and will only tolerate Story doing it if he is indicating an imbalance. She does love her own urine though, and loves to mark. She is the most markiest dog I have ever owned, and specifically to carrion when we are out and about. Body parts of others, her personal pirate booty, and she wants everyone to know it. The problem with this is she has a scent/substances in her urine that other dogs, and animals in general, are really attracted too. Apparently her urine is intoxicating. It was through urine analysis two years ago that we found some health concerns, all is good now.

Now that we have snow, check out the urine from your dog, look at the color, smell it. Where are they urinating, what are they urinating on? Now I’m not saying that you need to become a urine junky, or buy an I (heart) urine t-shirt, would be funny though. But I am saying that urine deserves more of our attention, and not in the ‘dang it my puppy peed in the house’ kind of attention, but in the information giving kind of attention. Asparagus, beats, coffee, vitamins … anyone?

Would love to hear what you have all observed from your animals.

Happy Sunday,
Nancy

originally posted 11/13/2011

2 thoughts on “The Awesomeness of Urine

  1. Hi Nancy!
    I came here to understand some more regarding my two dogs’ behaviour.Thank-you for showing me how absulotly normal they are LOL
    Our male, Hemmi, a young 1 1/2 year old, is always liking the our female, Bella’s, urine. And yes, he get all agitated after. We think it to be strange because she is fixed, and will look into the possibility that the vet left something behind that could still be arousing him.

    1. Hi Fernanda,
      we see even our desexed dogs in class get a bit excited when the intact females urinate. I think it is pretty normal. He just may be more sensitive to hormones and phermones. All the best, Nancy

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