What equipment do I need from my veterinarian to administer subcutaneous fluids?

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Most subcutaneous fluids are administered directly from an intravenous fluid bag; however, small amounts of fluids may be easier to handle when administered via a syringe.

The basic supplies for administration are as follows:

  • 1 liter bag of NaCL (Sodium Chloride) or LRS (Lactated Ringers Solution)
  • The type of fluid will be determined by your veterinarian depending on your pet’s condition.
  • An administration set or an extension set.
  • An administration set is a fluid line that attaches directly to the bag, while an extension set is a fluid line that can be attached to a syringe.
  • A syringe
  • You will only need a syringe if you are giving small doses of fluids and will not be administering directly from the fluid bag.
  • Several 20 – 18 gauge needles
  • Your veterinarian will decided on what size gauge needle you will need depending on the size of your pet.
  • A pressure bag (optional)
  • A pressure bag is slipped over a fluid bag and it helps squeeze the bag so that the fluids are administered faster.

For dogs who will be chronically receiving subcutaneous fluids, a permanent indwelling catheter may be needed. This catheter is surgically inserted under the skin and sutured into place. It allows a pet owner to administer subcutaneous fluids several times a day without the use of needles, because unfortunately, after chronic administration, some dogs do get sore following the repeated needle insertions into their skin. The catheter allows a pet owner to confidently administer the fluids without causing increased discomfort to their pet.

Have your veterinarian or veterinary technician demonstrate the proper procedure in setting up, priming, and administering subcutaneous fluids to your pet.

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