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What is Fluid Therapy?

Fluid therapy is the act of replenishing a canine with adequate fluids when they have been depleted due to mediated disease or trauma. Fluid therapy can be administered to a dog intravenously (through the vein), subcutaneous (under the skin), intraosseous (through bone marrow), or intraperitoneal (through the abdominal wall).

There are three different types of fluids that are used in canine fluid therapy:

  • Fluids containing isotonic crystalloids match the same solute concentration of blood and therefore will mimic the osmotic pressure.
  • Colloids supply oncotic pressure, found in both natural and synthetic norms. 
  • Hypertonic saline, which is a fluid therapy element that creates a high osmotic pressure within the vascular space.

Fluid Therapy Procedure in Dogs

Fluid therapy is individualized and tailored to each condition, as well as the canine. The location in which the fluid is infused, fluid composition, rate, and fluid volume are dictated by the needs of the patient. Fluid therapy can be administered to a dog intravenously (through the vein), subcutaneous (under the skin), intraosseous (through the bone), or intraperitoneal (through the abdomen). In general, the procedure for administration of fluid therapy is ideally the same with the placement of a catheter and rate of administration being the only differences. 

  1. The veterinarian will determine the site of administration (intravenously, subcutaneous, intraosseous, or intraperitoneal).
  2. The type of fluid will be determined based on the dog’s condition (Isotonic Crystalloids, Colloids, Hypertonic Saline) and an IV bag will be prepared. 
  3. The fluid rate will be calculated. Maintenance fluid therapy for dogs is 132 x body weight (kg) per 24 hours. 
  4. The size of the catheter will be determined, placing the largest catheter possible to provide adequate rates of fluid.
  5. The fluid therapy catheter will be prepped for placement. Saline solution is run through the port (the connective device for the catheter) and it is swabbed with alcohol.  
  6. The hair will be clipped and cleansed to perform a sterile preparation. 
  7. The catheter used for fluid therapy is equipped with a needle to allow penetration of the skin. The catheter will pierce the skin, the plastic catheter will be pushed into the skin (or vein) as the needle is pulled out.
  8. The end of the catheter is capped off to prevent bleeding as it is taped into place. 
  9. Once the catheter is taped into place, the cap is removed and the IV line is connected. 
  10. An IV bag full of the pre-prepared fluids will be connected to the line and the valve will be opened to the pre-calculated flow rate. 

 

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Efficacy of Fluid Therapy in Dogs

Fluid therapy can achieve adequate resuscitation rapidly and the retained fluid can aid in intravascular expansions for up to 12 hours (colloids). Isotonic Crystalloid fluid therapy is inexpensive and readily available for emergencies. Fluid therapy is also beneficial in encouraging the canine to eliminate, which removes excessive solutes from the body. A hypertonic saline solution in fluid therapy improves cardiovascular function, stimulated myocardial contractions, and peripheral blood flow, which is needed in shock patients. This type of fluid therapy also helps to normalize cell function, benefiting those with circulatory shock, penetrating wounds, and brain trauma.

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Fluid Therapy Recovery in Dogs

Fluid therapy treatment, in itself, does not typically require a recovery period, but the catheter site should be monitored for signs of irritation or infection.

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Cost of Fluid Therapy in Dogs

The cost of fluid therapy depends on the type of fluid used during therapy, the duration and volume of fluid used. A dog placed on fluid therapy will require professional monitoring, which requires hospitalization and adds to your expense. Additional drugs, emergency care, and procedures will also be added onto your veterinary bill. However, the average cost of fluid therapy is roughly $70-$100, though these numbers will vary by clinic. 

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Dog Fluid Therapy Considerations

The use of synthetic colloids as a fluid therapy poses a risk for acquired coagulopathy. Isotonic Crystalloids can cause pose a risk for the absence of clotting factors in the blood, diluted red blood cells, and interstitial edema. Hypertonic Saline is fast acting, but short-lived to less than one hour. The administration of this fluid therapy poses a risk for abnormal heart rhythms and can’t be used in dehydrated patients. The solutions actually pulls water from the intracellular and interstitial sites in the dog’s body, creating a disturbance in electrolyte values.

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Fluid Therapy Prevention in Dogs

Fluid therapy is used to treat a number of conditions and may be used in conjunction with numerous other treatments and procedures. Your ability to prevent conditions that lead to the use of fluid therapy will depend on the condition at hand, but good care practices, including providing a safe environment, adequate nutrition and access to clean water, can help keep your dog in good overall health.

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Fluid Therapy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Pit Bull

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Six Years

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Hge Gastronitis

Hi is there options for outpatient therapy for hge gastronitis? My dog is at vet now for fluids and wanted to keep her overnight, however $1400 was a lot for me.

Oct. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello So sorry to hear about your dog. You can talk to your vet about at-home treatment options. If your dog is not severely dehydrated you can try at home care. This would include syringe food and water, medications, and possibly around the clock care and treatment. Many times it is best for your dog to stay at the clinic for them to fully recover.

Oct. 4, 2020

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Shih Tzu

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Fifteen Years

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Has A Uti Right Now Went To Vet Today, Got Meds And Fluids

got home and has drank lots of water...even after having fluids at the vet. Is this normal?

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in my reply, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that she is feeling better, and doing well. If she is still having any problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 20, 2020

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Yorkipoo

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Eleven Months

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Not Drinking, Not Eating, Lethargic

Hi, my puppy loves to eat things she is not suppose to. Yesterday she woke up sick (I think she ate a toxic plant), she threw up the plant and threw up solids about 3 times. For the rest of the day, and that night, she threw up brown foamy liquid. She did not eat anything else that day but would drink water. She last drank water at 4 AM this morning and it is now 5pm. She has not thrown up anything since last night. But has not drank anything since 4AM. I am worried she is going to get dehydrated. I have a vet app. scheduled for tomorrow.

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I am glad that you have an appointment scheduled tomorrow, I think that is the best thing for her. Given all the unknowns, whether it was the toxic plant or other things that she has eaten, the best thing for her would be to see a veterinarian, and have a good examination. They will be able to look at her, see what's going on, and get any treatment she needs so that she feels better soon. I hope that all goes well for her!

July 23, 2020

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Mastiff

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6 months

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Vomiting; Bloody Stool; Lethargy; No Appetite; Depression

My 6 mth old mastiff was diagnosed with parvo on Saturday. Today is the 6th day and she is severely dehydrated and still not improving by eating on her own. She trys to drink water but it's almost like her thick salvia won't let her. I have been administering pedialyte, pepto and antibiotics when I can but she is still expelling these thru vomiting or watery, bloody stool. Today since 7am I have been giving her 24ml fluids every 15 mins. She has kept most of that down with no vomiting but she did poo once pretty badly. I called the vet and they can get 3-5 today. Can I ask for fluids?

July 22, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. Many dogs with parvovirus do much better on constant IV fluids in the hospital than they do getting fluids at home. If she has not improving over that many days, it may be best for her to hospitalize her and let them give her IV fluids and treatment. They can talk to you more about that, and if they are not able to do IV fluids, they may refer you to someone that can. They should be able to give you a better idea as to what she needs when they can see her. I hope that she is okay.

July 22, 2020

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Labrador Retriever

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Eighteen Months

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Leaking Fluid Like Pee

Dog was treated for an ingestion today. Was given fluids now is “leaking” clear fluid- maybe peeing when laying down. Is this normal.

July 9, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, Yes, many times dogs will have a very full bladder after getting fluids and leak a little. This is most likely urine produced from the fluids that she got today. This should be gone by tomorrow. If she continues to leak even after 24 hours, take your dog back to your vet. They can make sure that there is not an infection causing her to leak this fluid.

July 9, 2020

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Angel Snowball

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Maltese

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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Not Eating

My 13 year old Maltese was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney failure. Her cre-was a 4.6. After one round of sub-q fluids she went down to a 3.8. After the second round, up to a 6.3. On Wednesday April 22, she vomited and had diarrhea. I scheduled her for IV fluids and today April 23 is her second day. She will go back in tomorrow morning. She hasn’t eaten yet but she is drinking water. She only had one bowl of diarrhea today which good compared to 3 from yesterday. What should I expect after IV fluids? She has also stopped vomiting.

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Zoey

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West Highland White Terrier

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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Lethargy
Not Drinking Water
Hind Legs Are Week

We took our dog into the vet for her stomach feeling hard and lethargy. We had just changed her food. The vet gave her fluids and sent her home with i/d canned food and antibiotic. Her stomach seems better, but she it now having trouble using her left hand leg. She drags it when she walks and wobbles. She will not drink water and will only eat half of the canned dog food a day now. All she wants to do is lay down on her dog bed. She pants every once in a while like she is hot. We are on day 4. Are these normal symptoms after getting fluids?

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Urk

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Mixed Spitz-Poodle

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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Lethargic
No Appetite
Renal Failure
Excessive Salivation

My dog Urk (mix spitz & poodle) is in Renal Failure stage IV and we have had him on fluid therapy for 3 days now. Before we put him on the IV he hadn't eaten for 2 days. He's still very weak now but drinks a lot of water but still hasn't eaten. There is also excessive salivation, which the vet believes may be caused by abscesses in his mouth and may also be another reason why he isn't eating. With this, we're not sure how long he can hold out for. We are trying to stay positive but it's difficult seeing our baby like this.

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Trouble

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Chihuahua

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11 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Diarrhea
Lack Of Appetite

Took my dog to the emergency yesterday because his belly was bloated. He has heart failure so they concluded it was fluid build up in his belly, luckily not much in his lungs. They performed a fluid removal and extracted almost a liter. I have him now and he's still leaking a bit from the wound. He's able to walk and move around better, however he's still not eating much and has diarrhea. He also keeps licking himself and I noticed it's red above his genitals, I don't know if that's due to him licking himself (I haven't noticed any biting) or maybe it's a side effect? I hope all of these things will be resolved soon, he's taking medication including vetmedin and diuretics but I'm still worried. I'm not sure if I should call my vet now or maybe wait it out and see how he feels in a while since it's only the day after. I'm hoping someone could give me some advice, thank you.

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Terrry

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Mixed breed terria

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9 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Hi my dog was giving fluids Sunday for trap gas in stomach is it normal to have diarrhea and how many days would it last or how many days should I wait to go to the vet if this continues

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