Administer Subcutaneous Fluids

How to Give Subcutaneous Fluids to Your Pet at Home

Giving a dog or cat subcutaneous fluids, also as subcutaneous hydration or subcutaneous fluids therapy, is a way to provide extra hydration and electrolytes to your pet. It is often used for pets that are dehydrated or unable to drink enough fluids on their own, such as those with kidney disease or other debilitating diseases. It can also be used as a preventative measure for pets that are at risk of becoming dehydrated, such as senior pets or those with certain medical conditions.

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to give a dog or cat subcutaneous fluids at home:

Gather your supplies: You will need a sterile bag of isotonic saline solution or lactated Ringer’s solution, a subcutaneous fluid administration set (which includes a fluid line and a needle), and alcohol pads to disinfect the injection site. You should also have your pet’s medical records and any instructions from your veterinarian on hand.

Prepare the solution: Hang the bag of fluids on a hook or stand at a level higher than your pet, allowing gravity to facilitate the flow of fluids through the tube and into your pet’s body. Open the bag and connect the administration set to it, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Attach the needle to the end of the fluid line. Unclamp the line to let the fluids flow through it and the needle, effectively removing any air from the line. Allow a few seconds for some fluid to drip from the needle before re-clamping the line.

Sterilize the injection site: Select an injection site on your pet’s body, such as between the shoulder blades or 2 inches to either side of them. Clean the area using an alcohol pad to ensure proper disinfection. 

Insert the needle: Gently lift the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades to form a triangle. Hold the needle at a 45-degree angle to the skin, and slowly insert it into the triangular area. Feeling some resistance as you enter the subcutaneous space is normal.

Administer the fluids: Subcutaneous fluids rely on gravity for flow, but you can gently squeeze the fluid bag to assist in administering them to your pet. The administration rate depends on your pet’s size and the fluid amount prescribed by your veterinarian. Adjust the rate by squeezing the bag more or less. If fluid leaks from the site, you may have penetrated the skin completely; in that case, remove the needle and reinsert it about an inch from the original spot.

Monitor your pet: Watch for any reactions or signs of discomfort during fluid administration. A soft lump will form under the skin at the fluid injection site. This should not be painful, and the fluid will be absorbed gradually over several hours. If you notice any issues, stop the fluids immediately and consult your veterinarian.

Dispose of supplies: After administering the fluids, remove the needle from your pet’s skin and dispose of it in a sharps container. Apply pressure to the injection site for 60 seconds after removing the needle to prevent fluid leakage. Finally, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. 

It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and only administer subcutaneous fluids under their supervision. If you have any concerns or questions about administering subcutaneous fluids to your pet, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

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