Comparison of a digital and an optical analogue hand-held refractometer for the measurement of canine urine specific gravity.
ABSTRACT Urine specific gravity (USG) is used clinically as a measure of urine concentration, and is routinely assessed by refractometry. A comparison between optical analogue and digital refractometers for evaluation of canine urine has not been reported. The aim of this study was to compare a digital and an optical analogue hand-held refractometer for the measurement of canine USG, and to assess correlation with urine osmolality. Prospective study. Free-catch urine samples were collected from 285 hospitalised adult dogs, and paired USG readings were obtained with a digital and an optical analogue refractometer. In 50 dogs, urine osmolality was also measured using a freezing point depression osmometer. There was a small but statistically significant difference between the two refractometers (P<0.001), with the optical analogue refractometer reading higher than the digital refractometer (mean difference 0.0006, sd 0.0012). Paired refractometer measurements varied by <0.002 in 91.5 per cent of cases. The optical analogue and digital refractometer readings showed excellent correlation with osmolality (r=0.980 and r=0.977, respectively, P<0.001 in both cases). Despite statistical significance, the difference between the two refractometers is unlikely to be clinically significant. Both instruments provide an accurate assessment of USG in dogs.