How is the subcutaneous fluid administered safely and effectively?

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Before administering subcutaneous fluids to your pet, make sure you speak with your veterinarian regarding how much to give in each location, and how to properly set up for fluid administration and procedure specifics. You should first set up your administration bag or syringe, and prime the line and needle before restraining your pet.

Fluid bags should come with an administration set that you “spike” into the port on the bag. The administration set then needs to be primed, by squeezing the flash bulb at the top of the set and allowing fluid to run the length of the set. Capping off the end with a sterile needle completes your setup. If you are administering small amounts of fluid with a syringe, you would first need to draw up the amount of fluids required, and then remove the needle and replace it with an extension set while you place a new needle on the end of the set. Prime the line by gentle pushing the plunger of the syringe until there is no more air in the line. Air under the skin can be very painful, so this is an important step.

At this point, have an assistant restrain your pet and locate an area between the neck and hips along the back that has plenty of extra skin tent. This is important so that the fluid you administer underneath the skin has plenty of room to flow. Tight skin areas can be very painful places to administer fluids for your pet. Once your pet is restrained, carefully tent or pull up the skin, and quickly insert your needle between your fingers beneath the skin. Inserting the needle quickly is far less painful and obvious than slowly inserting a needle.

Once your needle is in place, you can release the skin but be careful not to move the needle around needlessly. The sharp point of the needle can hit nerves under the skin and cause pain. Slowly open the clamp of your administration set, or slowly press the plunger of your syringe until you administer the amount of fluids needed. With some animals or amounts of fluids, you may need to stop, pull your needle out, and using a new needle, administer fluids in a new location. The bulge at the location of the fluid administer should be a raised flat area, not a large hard ball.

If you have any doubts concerning your technique, always confer with your veterinarian for advice or demonstrations.

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