Giving Sub-Cutaneous (SubQ) fluids to your cat
There are a number of illnesses and conditions that your cat may be sufferering from when giving SubQ fluids can really help.
Some examples are:
• Ketones – the extra fluids can help flush them out of the system
• DKA – with a DKA the cat if often badly dehydrated, SubQ fluids when you are able to bring your cat home can make a big difference
• CRD (Chronic Renal Disease) – with the excessive urination that can accompany CRD, cats are often dehydrated, importantly too, the extra fluids you give will help wash waste products out of the body
• Any situation that may be causing dehydration in your cat – stomach problems/vomiting, bad diarrhea, etc.
What you need to give SubQ fluids:
To give SubQ fluids you need the following:
1. The fluids
2. A Venoset IV Tube set
In most cases you will be giving Lactacted Ringers. Cats with high calcium counts (perhaps with CRD) may be given Normosol.
You do need to make sure that there is no dextrose/glucose in the fluids your vet has prescribed.
2. Venoset IV Tube set
The Venoset is the tubing that goes from the sac of fluids to the syringe that you attach to administer the fluids.
While some people do reuse the Venoset, it is not expensive, and it is recommended to change the Venoset with a new bag of fluids.
Usually 18 gauge needles are recommended. However, many people find the smaller 20 gauge needles easier to use.
The 18 gauge will let you administer the fluids more quickly; the 20 gauge will let you control the flow of fluids more easily.
Where to get supplies:
Depending where you live, you may or may not need a prescription to buy the SubQ supplies.
You may be able to buy the supplies on-line (with the prescription required if necessary).
In the US it is definitely best to try and order on-line as that is far less expensive than getting the supplies through your vet..
In Canada ordering through your local pharmacy is most cost-efficient due to high shipping costs due to the weight of the liquid. The product code for a 500 ml bag of Lactated Ringers – intravenous fluids and electrolyte replenishment, NaCl 0.9% Sodium Cloride, manufactured by Baxters is JB1323 – DIN00060208.
How much SubQ fluids to give
It is better to give fluids twice a day rather than in one big “dose”.
The normal “dose” is 50ml/BID.
Depending on your cat’s situation, more may be needed.
If you can give an injection of insulin you can give SubQ fluids!
The fluids should be room temperature or warmed to blood temperature to create the least discomfort for your cat. Putting the bag in a bowl of warm water can help bring it up to the right temperature.
You should give the fluids high on the shoulder and alternate between sites when you give.
When you do give them, a lump of fluid will form under the skin. It will be absorbed over the following hours.
Some fluid (perhaps mixed with a little blood) will often trickle out of the hole made by the needle when you withdraw it. That is normal so don’t worry if it happens. If it does, just squeeze the skin together/put pressure on the spot until it stops.
Video & Photos:
This link from International Cat Care provides both a video and clear written instructions with photos on giving SubQ fluids:
Giving SubQ fluids
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