Occasionally we will see patients during our home visits that are mildly dehydrated or who have medical conditions that predispose them to dehydration. In these cases, we often administer subcutaneous fluids, and sometimes we need the pet’s owners to administer the fluids as an ongoing treatment. Administering subcutaneous fluids is very easy….even for those fearful of needles. Most animals don’t mind the administration of these fluids, and owners are amazed by how much better the animal feels by just giving a little help with hydration.
So how do subcutaneous fluids work? You veterinarian will show you how to administer a given amount of sterile fluid directly under the skin. This fluid will form a “lump” that will be absorbed by the animal within a few hours. Subcutaneous fluids are generally less stressful for the animal to receive than IV fluids, and are more cost effective for fluids needed on an ongoing basis. However, if an animal is severely dehydrated IV fluids are preferable. The most common reasons to administer subcutaneous fluids at home are for chronic kidney disease in cats, or for hospice care in terminally ill animals to make them more comfortable.
Subcutaneous fluids should never be administered without the advice of a veterinarian. There are some medical conditions in which an animal can become overhydrated and become severely ill. Supplies should always be purchased from a veterinarian or a source recommended by a veterinarian to ensure sterility and prevent infection. Pet owners administering subcutaneous fluids should keep the lines of communication open with their veterinarian and the pet should be monitored closely for changes in urinary habits, appetite, or any other symptoms. For further information and step by step instructions on administering subcutaneous fluids, visit Washington State University’s Website.
If you have further questions on administering subcutaneous fluids to your pet at home, or if you need in-home instruction or help, contact Homefront Veterinary House Calls at (917)396-4041 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.