When would I need to give subcutaneous fluids to my dog?

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Subcutaneous fluids are often used as hydration therapy, when venous access isn’t available or is simply impractical. Animals are different than people as they have a large amount of expandable space between their skin and muscle layers. This additional space allows animals to pick up their young by the back of their necks. It also allows fluid to be injected under the skin in order to rehydrate an animal.

The best possible way to rehydrate a dog is to give controlled intravenous fluids. Unfortunately, this isn’t always practical to do in the home. Dogs with chronic conditions such as kidney failure may require extra assistance with rehydration through the use of subcutaneous fluids. Working dogs who are utilized outside in the heat for extended periods of time may also benefit from subcutaneous fluids.

Dog handlers often administer these fluids before heading out to the field. This act not only supports the dog’s hydration level and keeps them cool, but gives the handler an idea of how hard the dog is working based on how quickly the fluids are absorbed.

This is extremely beneficial during excessively hot days, as it prevents the handler from working a dog too hard or too long. After a long day, they will often administer more fluids subcutaneously as the cool fluids under the skin aid in cooling the dog down.

These are only a few examples of when subcutaneous fluids may be given to your dog. As always, speak with your veterinarian before administering any fluids or medications to your pet.

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