Jump to section

What is Subcutaneous Fluid Administration?

Subcutaneous fluid administration for dogs is the act of injecting a solution of sterile fluids directly underneath the canine’s skin. The medical term for underneath the skin is subcutaneous, with “sub” meaning underneath and “-cutaneous” referring to the skin. Subcutaneous fluid administration may be required for a number of circumstances in which the dog has inadequate body level fluids. The procedure is usually performed by a veterinarian, but some treatments have been performed by dog owners. Delivering subcutaneous fluids at home is not advised, as fluids overload or improper needle placement can result in fatality. 

Subcutaneous Fluid Administration Procedure in Dogs

Subcutaneous fluid administration requires a fluid bag, fluid drip set, and needle. The amount of fluids to be administered to the dog are based on the dog’s physical state, health, and past conditions. A review of the canine’s medical history, a physical examination, urinalysis and blood analysis will likely take place before fluids administration begins. 

The veterinarian or veterinary staff will begin by assembling the equipment, including the fluid bag and drip set. 

  1. The fluid bag and drip set will be removed from the sterile packaging. 
  2. The fluid line will be locked by rolling the lock gauge upward, preventing fluid from leaving the bag during assembly. 
  3. The protective cap will be removed from the bag of fluids and the fluid set will be pushed into the fluid bag’s exit port. 
  4. The bulb located at the top of the drip set will be squeezed to allow fluids from the fluid bag to collect in this small, flexible cylinder. The bulb will be approximately ½ full with sterile fluids. 
  5. The protective cap at the end of the fluid set’s tubing will be removed and the rolling lock will be opened. Fluid will be allowed to freely flow through the tubing, removing air from the fluid line. 
  6. Once all air bubbles are removed from the line, the fluid set will once again be closed and protective caps will be placed back on the line. 

Once the fluids are assembled, the veterinarian or member of the staff will choose a location to administer the fluids underneath the dog’s skin. Common locations for subcutaneous fluid administration include the level of the shoulder blades, just left or right of the midline, or at the level of the back legs. A roll of skin will be pinched and pulled upward, then the needle will be inserted into the skin. The doctor may choose to tape the needle into place or simply monitor the location after fluid administration begins. 

After the needle is in place, the fluid line will be attached to the placed needle and the lock will be opened. The fluids are released from the bag at a drip rate per minute, delivered over a time of 10 to 15 minutes. The veterinarian will calculate this drip rate based on the dog’s weight and hydration needs. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Efficacy of Subcutaneous Fluid Administration in Dogs

Subcutaneous fluid administration is highly effective in restoring hydration to the canine patient. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Subcutaneous Fluid Administration Recovery in Dogs

Subcutaneous fluid administration is prescribed to patients for a number of conditions and the recovery time, as well as how long fluids are needed, depend on the specific circumstance. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Subcutaneous Fluid Administration in Dogs

Subcutaneous fluid administration costs about $80 in most veterinary clinics, but emergency care providers may charge higher than the average vet. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Dog Subcutaneous Fluid Administration Considerations

Subcutaneous fluid administration for dogs should only be administered by a licensed veterinarian or member of the veterinary staff. This therapy is highly beneficial, but can affect the heart, lungs and kidneys if administer incorrectly. Older patients should be closely monitored during subcutaneous fluid administration, as older dogs are at a higher risk for adverse effects. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

Subcutaneous Fluid Administration Prevention in Dogs

Dehydration is a common and easily preventable condition that is treated with subcutaneous fluid administration. Allowing a dog to drink freely and stay hydrated during warmer months of the year can easily prevent dehydration. 

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Subcutaneous Fluid Administration Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Shitzu poodle mix

dog-age-icon

Twelve Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Urinating In Home, Vomit, Diareeah, After Given Fluids From Emergency Clinic, She Peed Blood

Is it normal to have dark urine after receiving fluids for dehydration?

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question . Urine is typically more dilute after fluids, and I would be concerned if she is still vomiting. She may need further care, from your description, and it would be a good idea to call or visit your veterinarian to see if she needs any medications or treatment. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 5, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Poodle x Shih-Tzu

dog-age-icon

Twelve Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Fluid In Abdomen

My dog had subcutaneous fluid done by the vet today around 11:30 am. When i got home tonight from work, he was in so much pain he couldn’t move and there was a pocket of fluid under his right paw.

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Ellen M. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, thank you for your question. I am so sorry to hear that your dog is in so much discomfort! Without examining your dog, it's very hard for me to know exactly what might be going on, but it's not unusual for subcutaneous fluids to travel down the body under the skin due to gravity. If this is causing swelling, it could be what is causing the discomfort. If your dog seems to be in extreme pain or if he is unable to get up and walk, I recommend calling an emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Otherwise, I recommend calling your vet in the morning if it has not improved. I hope that your dog starts feeling better soon!

Aug. 4, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Anatolian Shepherd

dog-age-icon

Six Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Diarrhea

My dog hasn’t eaten since Wednesday night and I took him to the emergency vet yesterday. They gave him fluids, as they thought he was dehydrated. Once we got home, a few hours later he had a giant diarrhea in the house and it was just watery and brown. He never has accidents so that was odd. Then through the night til early am he had a few more outside. They were powerful, fast, sudden wet diarrhea. The one this morning was yellow in color. Could this be from the fluids he was given? He still isn’t eating

July 19, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is not likely that the diarrhea was caused by the fluids, but likely that it was caused by whatever stopped your dog from eating in the first place. Things have a tendency to run through the GI tract and often what starts in the front end ends up in the back end. Since your dog was just seen at the emergency clinic, you may be able to call and let them know that your dog now has terrible diarrhea, and they may be able to prescribe medication to help with that so that it gets better more quickly. You can also try feeding a bland diet of boiled white chicken and boiled white rice, for a few days, and see if that helps. I hope that everything gets better for your dog soon.

July 19, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Miniature Pinscher

dog-age-icon

Eleven Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Anemia

I’m injecting my dog and i have a question. 1. Do I inject air into the bottle every time? Even though its still the same bottle? 2. can i draw medicine from different bottles into a one syringe? If i dont have enough medicine in one of the bottle? 3. how do i know if there is an air after insert the needle and pull back the plunger? Is it bad that if there is an air and i still inject it. Cant tell if there is an air. Please help me this my first time injecting my dog. Any information would be appropriated so much.

July 14, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. This is a really difficult process to describe in text. There are many variables, I'm not sure what bottles you are drawing from, or which needles you are using. It is very simple to show you, which I would love to do but I can't, and it would probably be best if you call your Veterinary Clinic, tell them you need help, and ask them to show you how to do this. That is something that we do commonly with people that are giving fluids and medications as injections. There is a learning curve, and they will be able to help you. I hope that all goes well with your dog, and this does get easier.

July 14, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Bella

dog-breed-icon

Border Collie

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness

My 14 yr old 46lb dog has stage 3 kidney disease last creation was 3.1. A month ago we were giving her 200ml a day. We had to switch her food a couple times and last week I was feeding by hand. Vet said ok to increase to 400ml a day. Vet said nothing more can be done and she not in pain but feels like a bad flu. We give the 400ml in evening in one sitting. How does fluids make her feel immediately after? Meaning is there an immediate relief of hydration? Should we split it into 2 200ml doses instead of one? To help w feeding is there a better time to give the fluids? Thank you

Aug. 8, 2018

Bella's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

The fluids that you are giving Bella probably don't cause immediate relief, but are keeping her hydrated so that she doesn't feel sluggish and terrible otherwise. If she is doing well on 400 mLs once daily, that is less poking for her than twice daily. Maintaining appetite is an ongoing battle with kidney disease, and she may benefit from phosphate binders or appetite stimulants, which you can discuss with your veterinarian.

Aug. 8, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Maverick

dog-breed-icon

Yorkie Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

9 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

So Maverick had been diagnosed with parvo but we caught it very quickly.he weighed 1.8 pounds at the vet he was more less just latharguc and had some diarrhea.day 1 he was started on antibiotics and sub Q fluids also a medication so he did t throw up .the vet gave me sub Q fluids to do at home every 4 hours and said to give him 20 cc at a time .so day 1 went well although I felt horrible because he screamed every time.but non the less I followed vet instructions perfectly and he seemed to be doing good.i had to bring him in the next day for antibiotic and more nausia medication when we got there it had been 1 and a half hours since I gave him his 20 cc of fluid and I told the vet this.hr decided to give him 10 more cc even though he said I was doing good and he was not dehydrated at all.i thought well that's odd since he just had 20 cc not to long before that he told me in 2 hours to give him 20 more cc so I did as I was told then here is where everything went BAD....after I gave him that I noticed a pool of fluid down by his lungs on his chest so I immediately called my vet it was 11 at night and it had been his 4 hours so by the clock he was due now again for more fluids but there was the fluid pocket so I was concerned he may have had too much but when speaking to the vet he said oh no that was normal due to gravity and to give him his 20 cc of fluid and all would be fine .skeptical that was too much I did as I was told and gave it to him .....by 4 am my little boy was having seizers and was pretty much dying ....I called the vet again and let him know what was going on and that I was very distraught and I wanted him seen immediately.he said just to keep a eye on him and bring him in at 8 am when they opened.so I was there waiting when he pulled in and he gave him a few other shots and MORE SUB Q FLUID 10CC. I was very confused since I believed he had had too much and that was the cause since he had never had anything the day and night before when I was doing the fluids but he is the vet he must know what he's doing sohseae id to take him home and hopefully they would stop.i took him home and as soon as we left the vet the seizers got way worse his whole body was convulsing every 5 min he had one and they lasted about 1 min within 2 hours my baby was gone.i truely believe it's because he had way too much sub Q fluids for such a tiny puppy he was only 1.5 pounds.what do u think ? I am so heartbroken 💔 my baby boy is no longer with us I believe because the carelessness of the vet not listening to me when I said he just had fluids before we came please help me figure out if this is true thanks .I miss Maverick every single day I don't wish this on anyone 💔

dog-name-icon

Bear

dog-breed-icon

Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Restless
Lack Of Appetite
Distended Abdomen
Lathargy
Dyspnea
Decreased Proteins

I had a 7 year old chihuahua who had black tarry stools for a couple days and out of fear that it was a sign of internal bleeding, I decide to take him to the emergency pet clinic. It is important to note that he was also walking very slow and seemed lethargic. I should also note that about 2 weeks before this happened, I took him to another vet clinic to get his anal glands expressed because he was having trouble defecating, and I suspected that the vet assistant may have lost control of my dog (who is aggressive and has social anxiety) when she put him on the table and he fell from the examination table because I heard my dog yelp, but when the vet assistant brought him back to me she said that he bit his tongue so I don’t know if she was lying because he had a muzzle on when she took him to the back. However, my dog seemed okay when she brought him back, he wasn’t limping so I didn’t think much of it, so there is a possibility of trauma. Two weeks forward, when we took my dog to the emergency vet clinic for the black tarry stools, the vet ran some blood tests and found that he had decreased proteins and was dehydrated, so she decided to give him IV fluids under his skin and told us to change his diet to increase his proteins. However, when we got home that night he started breathing really quickly and continued to breath like that for 21 hours. That following morning we noticed that his stools were no longer black, but now the problem was his breathing. After we saw no improvement we decided to take him back to the ER where they took some chest X-rays and found that his chest was full of fluid and his left lung was collapsed. The Vet didn’t know his chances of surviving because his chest could fill back up with fluid so we decided to put him to sleep. Is there anyway the IV fluids under the skin could have caused the Pleural Effusion or it is it possible that the trauma that may have occurred 2 weeks ago could have caused the pleural effusion.

dog-name-icon

Gracie

dog-breed-icon

Miniature Schnauzer

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss
Lethargy
Anorexia
Nausea

Gracie has kidney disease and very high levels of phosphorus. Her vet gave her sub-a fluids today and advised us to administer them at home for 6 more days. We have instructions, but I’m terrified of accidentally harming her or worse with these. Is this even advised? If so do you have any advice on how to do it properly? So scared and heartbroken about my girl.

How can we help your pet?