What are subcutaneous fluids?
Sterile fluid and electrolytes injected directly into subcutaneous tissue for the purpose of providing hydration while at home. This provides a more conservative option than intravenous fluids which require hospitalization.

Assembling the fluid set:

  • There are 3 parts to the fluid set:
    • Fluid bag (e.g. LRS or 0.9% NaCl)
    • IV line
    • Needle
  • Remove fluid bag and IV line from packaging.
  • Close IV line by using the wheel or the clip.
  • Turn fluid bag upside down and remove plug from the fluid bag.
  • Remove cap from the drip chamber end of the IV set (orange arrow) and insert the sharp point into the fluid bag where the plug was removed.
  • Remove cap from the end of the IV line. Open roller/clip on IV line and run fluid through the line until it comes out the end. Close the IV line by using the roller/clip.
  • Attach a clean needle by removing the plastic end and pushing the needle onto the line. If there is a tightening cuff, tighten at this time.
  • Each line on the fluid bag equals 100 mL or cc. The IV line holds about 50 mLs. A new fluid set will start slightly above the 1.
  • Hold the fluid bag the same way each time to reduce errors in determining the starting and ending points of the fluid therapy.
  • Administering fluids: Pull up the skin over the shoulder area to make a tent. Feel for the triangular indentation – this is the “tent door”.
  • Remove the cap from the needle and insert the needle into the bottom of the “tent door” closest to your pet’s body. Make sure to insert the needle horizontally not vertically. Do not insert the needle toward the top of the “tent door” or you may poke through the skin.
  • For example, imagine you are entering the tent like you were crawling. If you aimed the needle toward your pet’s body, you would be standing on your head. And if you aimed the needle up, you would hit your head on the tent ceiling.
  • Open the roller/clip. Squeeze or twist the bag to start administering the fluids. If fluid comes out of the skin, then you have poked through. If that happens, gently pull your needle back and squeeze the bag again to see if fluid is still coming out.
  • A hump should start to form. Periodically check the bag to see how much fluid you have administered. Close the roller/clip when the proper amount of fluid has been administered.
  • Pull the needle straight back to remove. You can put a finger over the insertion site or lightly pinch the skin to prevent fluid from leaking out.
  • Replace the cap back onto the needle. Remove used needle and place a clean needle after every use so you are ready for the next administration and to prevent bacterial growth in the IV line. Bring used needles to PKAH for disposal.
  • Notes: Fluid may gravitate down your pet’s body as it settles. The armpits or legs may appear puffy. This should not affect your pet’s ability to move or walk.
  • The hump of injected fluids should dissipate over the next few hours.
  • Your pet may need to go outside or use the litter box more often to urinate.
  • Go online at http://www.veterinarypartner.com and search for administering subcutaneous fluids for more information on administering subcutaneous fluids at home.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at 651-452-8160 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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