How to Give Your Pet Subcutaneous Fluids: Part 1 (The Set-Up)

This article is Part 1 of a 2-Part Series on how to help you give your pets subcutaneous fluids. Subcutaneous (or SQ) fluid treatments are most commonly recommended for pet’s with chronic renal disease (CRD) or kidney failure. As a Certified Veterinary Technician, I have worked with many families, teaching them out to perform these treatments at home to help them manage their pet’s disease. Although it sounds overwhelming, it can be very manageable with the right information, help, and practice.

How to Give Your Pet Subcutaneous Fluids- Part 1

First and Foremost:

SQ fluids should only be administered under the direction of your veterinarian. There are a few situations where your pet may react adversely to fluids, especially if they have an advanced heart condition.

There are several parts to your subcutaneous fluids set-up:

SQ Fluid Set-Up

The first is the bag of fluids. These are usually 1 Liter bags, with demarcations down the right side that mark every 100 milliliters of fluid. In the picture above, the bottom of the bag has a white seal; you’ll also find bags with a blue seal.

The second item is your drip set or line. This is the plastic line that connects your fluid bag to the needle. It has a chamber that allows you to see how fast fluids are flowing, and a white clamp that lets you open and close (clamp off) the line.

Needles come in all sizes! If you have given a SQ injection before, chances are you used one of the smaller needles (blue or red). For SQ fluids, it’s usually recommended to go larger with the needle (pink or green). The reason I like to use the larger needle is that it doesn’t take as long for fluids to flow. Yes, your pet may react less with a smaller needle, but the last thing you want is to stand there with your bag as the fluid goes drip… drip… drip. With a larger size, you can usually be finished with your treatment within 5-10 minutes. (Don’t worry, in the next video, I will give you tips that will help with a larger needle).

SQ Fluid Set-Up- Needles

Here we go! Putting your fluid set together:

Start by removing the tab from the bag of fluids. The bag has a second (internal) plug that will keep fluid in the bag, so don’t worry about making a mess! Next, remove the cap from the spiked end of your drip set. Remember to clamp your line closed, because once you pierce the internal plug, fluid will be flowing through the line. Insert the spiked end into the bag until the plastic reaches the hub of the drip set. Lastly, attach your needle to the opposite end. ** Once you remove the caps to either end of your line, do not let them rest on the counter! Keep them clean!

Once everything is in place, squeeze the chamber until it fills halfway with fluid, then unclamp your line to allow for fluid to flow all the way down to your needle (emptying out all the air). Clamp your line down once the fluid reaches the needle, and you’re all set to grab your pet!

You can use the same drip set or line with each fluid bag, but make sure that you change out your needle each time you poke or administer the fluids to your pet. You want to make sure it’s clean!

Click HERE to follow us to our second segment if you need help administering subcutaneous fluids.

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