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How to Give Your Cat Subcutaneous Fluids

How to Give Your Cat Subcutaneous Fluids

Featured Quote:

We love to teach owners how to do this at home. It means you don't have to bring your cat into the clinic.

Video Transcript:

Today, I'm going to do a demonstration video on how to give your cat sub Q fluids. This is a really common procedure. We love to teach owners how to do this at home. It means you don't have to bring your cat into the clinic. It's low stress for your cat, and it can just be a life-saving procedure, especially for cats with kidney disease, diabetes, and chronic constipation. There are several reasons that we might recommend this, but kidney disease is the most common reason. And it's something that we want owners to do on a somewhat regular basis—of course, follow your vet's instructions, whether it be a couple of times a week, daily, or less frequently than that.

What your vet is going to do is set you up with is a bag of fluids, an IV extension set, and some needles. And what you're going to do when you get this set up, this one's already set up, but basically, you insert the spike set into the fluid bag. You're going to put a needle on the end of the IV set. I'm going to go ahead and change the needle to show we always use a new needle each time. There's usually a little protective cap. You just twist that off. And then, twist this right back on so it can't come back off. There's a little screw-top right there.

And then, there are several pieces on this IV extension set where you can clamp the fluids off so that it doesn't leak out and make a mess. This one rolls up and down. It's clamped right now. And then this one just takes a peek. If you're like, "My fluids aren't running," it's probably because something's clamped. So make sure everything is open. If it's the first time you're using this bag of fluids, you want to prime the line. Go ahead and run the fluids through until you get a few drips out of your line. This line is already primed, so I don't need to do that. 

Your vet will tell you how much to give each time you're giving it. Each of these little dash marks is 100 CCS. Most cats will get 100 to 150; maybe some larger cats get 200 CCS. And so, you'd go from like the two to three or the three to the four for 100 CCS. Make sure you know where you're starting. In this case, we're starting at 500 CCS. That's how much is locked in this bag—monitor how much you're giving.

Gunther here is a perfect patient. He is going to be happy to demonstrate how this is done. Most people can do this by themselves, but if you've got somebody else to help you give some head scratches and be a distractor, offering their favorite treat will keep the cat in one place. You're going to remove the cap of the syringe, and right here, kind of behind their shoulder blades, there's plenty of skin and subcutaneous space. You're going to lift and create this tent. And see, my finger can go right in there. We're going to go about parallel with the back. I’ll sometimes give the skin a little bit of a twitch for a distraction, and I just go straight in.

He tolerated that well. Most cats do. Now, I'm just going to, with one hand, hold that in place. Sometimes you can let go of that completely. I'm going to unroll this so that it's all unclamped. And now, with this bag, I'm going to squeeze it. And I can see in this chamber, the fluids are flowing nicely, so I know everything is nice and open. And Gunther's being great. If he wants to move just a little bit, that's okay. But you don't want to chase your cat while you're doing this, so keep them in one place.

I can do this with one hand, give him some head scratches. He's pretty happy to be here and being still for me. I'm going to watch this, and you'll get an idea of how long it takes and how quickly it's flowing. I'd say it takes somewhere between a minute and a half to two minutes for about 100 to 150 CCS for most cats. It's pretty quick. Keep an eye on your needle to make sure fluid isn't leaking out, and they haven't moved. You can see there's kind of a hump here of fluids that have gone in.

I’m not going to pull it out right now just for the sake of the video. If you were finished, measure your fluids. He got about 50 CCS in that time. You're going to lay that back down, clamp this back off again so now the fluid can't leak. When you're taking this out, you're going to pull it straight out, but put a little bit of pressure where the needle was because sometimes fluid likes to leak out. 

I'm going to set this down with the cap on, and I just hold pressure just for a few seconds. But see this hump right here? You will notice that. And with a little bit of time—20, 30 minutes, maybe even an hour—the hump settles with gravity, maybe over their shoulder, even their elbow. And that's no big deal at all.

I think that is everything. Giving your cat SQ fluids can be so helpful for these kidneys and kidney cats that need fluids. And it's something that you can learn how to do at home, so I hope this helps.

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