Medicate Your Pet Articles

It is important to be well informed about the drugs your pets take. Here is some helpful information about drugs and your pets.

How To Give Your Dog Medication

How To Administer Ear Medication To Your Dog

Dr. Dawn Ruben
Dermatology & Otic Diseases – General Practice & Preventative Medicine

GIVING EAR MEDICATION

Frequently, your veterinarian prescribes medication after an ear examination. Administering these medications can be confusing and difficult. Some dogs, especially if their ears are painful, are resistant to the administration of medication. Diligence and patience are necessary and this technique may be helpful:

· Have the medication container ready and the cap off.

· Hold your dog’s head still with one hand, while the other hand is used to administer the medication. Many people hold the tip of the affected ear to help hold the dog still. Be very careful to not hold the ear too firmly so that it causes pain. Be prepared for your dog to flinch once the medication touches the ear.

· Place the medication container just inside the opening to the ear. Do not push the container into the canal.

· Administer the prescribed amount of medication into the ear opening.

· Remove the container from the ear opening and gently rub the base of the ear to distribute the medication deeper inside the ear.

How To Administer Eye Medication To Your Dog

General Practice & Preventative Medicine – Ophthalmology

GIVING EYE MEDICATION

Frequently, your veterinarian prescribes medication for your dog after an eye examination. Administering these medications can sometimes be difficult. Some dogs, especially if their eyes are painful, are resistant to the administration of medication. Diligence and patience are necessary to help give the medication. There are several techniques that may facilitate giving eye medication (drops or ointment) to your pet.

METHOD 1

· Have someone restrain your dog by holding the front legs and chest, or if the dog is small, wrap him firmly in a blanket or towel.

· Place the medication in your dominant hand with the lid off.

· If you are right-handed and the right eye needs medication, rest your right hand on top of the head in order to stabilize your hand. Your hand should be near the inner side of the eye closest to the nose. With your left hand, place the thumb near the lower eyelid and the forefinger near the upper eyelid. This also works if you are left-handed and the dog needs medication in his left eye.

· If you are right-handed and the left eye needs medication, stand on the right side of the dog, facing the same direction as the dog. With the medication in your right hand, rest this hand on top of the head to stabilize. Reach across the dog and place the index finger of your left hand near the lower eyelid and your left thumb near the upper eyelid. This also works if you are left-handed and the right eye needs medication.

· Spread the eyelids apart using your thumb and forefinger.

· Apply the medication directly on the surface of the eye or into the small gap between the lower eyelid and the surface of the eye. Take care not to touch the surface of the eye with the tip of the medication container.

· Once the medication has been administered, open and close the eyelid one or two times with your thumb and forefinger in order to spread the medication over the entire surface of the eye.

METHOD 2

· If the eye medication is ointment, gently squeeze about 1/8” out the end of the tube. Hold the dog’s head with your free hand, and with the other hand, touch the crease in the eyelids closest to the nose with the tube of medication. The spot to aim for is the point where the two eyelids meet. The dog will blink the exposed ointment off the tip of the tube.

· The third eyelid sits in this same area and will move upward when the corner of the eyelids is touched and will prevent the tube from touching the cornea.

· The same method can be used at the outside corner of the eyelids, but there is no third eyelid in this area, so you must be careful not to touch the cornea with the tube.

· After administering the ointment, wipe the tip of the tube with a fresh Kleenex or piece of cotton and replace the cap.

METHOD 3

· If the eye medication is a solution, and if your dog objects to having the medication dropped directly onto the surface of the eye or objects to having the eyelids opened, then simply hold the dog’s head in an upward position and make him look towards the ceiling.

· Approach the eye with the bottle of medication, from either the front of the head or over the top of the back of the head. As the bottle gets closer to the eye, the dog often closes its eyes. Drop a single drop of medication onto the crease where the eyelids touch and come together.

· Continue to hold the head in an upward position for a full minute after the drop is applied to the crease. Gravity will cause the solution to ooze slowly downward through the small gap in the eyelids.

· With this method, some of the solution may be lost onto the skin around the eye, but the dog may tolerate this method better.


FOLLOWING ADMINISTRATION OF THE MEDICATIONS

· Don’t forget to praise your dog for his patience and good behavior.

· Give him a treat after the medication or some toy that will serve as a reward for cooperating with you.

How To Administer Liquid Medication To Your Dog

Dr. Dawn Ruben
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

GIVING LIQUID MEDICATION

Once your dog is released from the veterinary hospital, administering home medications can be scary, confusing and, sometimes, difficult to do. Several medications are available in both liquid and pill forms. If you feel that the liquid form would be easier to give to your dog, make sure you ask your veterinarian if this option is available.

Try the following method for administering liquid medication to your dog:

· Draw up the prescribed amount of medication in the eyedropper or oral syringe.

· Gently grasp your dog’s head; if you are right-handed, use your left hand. Place your hand on top of the muzzle with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Avoid holding the lower jaw, and do not hold it so tight that it is uncomfortable or the dog cannot swallow. You may need someone to help hold the front legs and chest of the dog to hold him/her still. Wrapping their dog in a towel or blanket is a good restraint technique.

· Once his head is held in place, raise the nose to point toward the ceiling and firmly squeeze your fingers and thumb in just behind the upper canine teeth. The mouth should open.

· Place the tip of the eyedropper or syringe in the mouth just behind the long canine teeth in the area where there are either no teeth or small, flat teeth. Advance the eyedropper until it is just past the tooth line (jaw bone).

· Slowly administer the medication and be careful not to give it faster than your dog can swallow.

· Be prepared for some spitting of the medications. If this occurs, do not re-administer another dose unless you feel the entire dose of the medication has not been given.

· The quicker you perform this procedure, the more cooperative your dog will be.

· Always remember to praise your dog and maybe offer a treat after receiving the medication. This will help make future medicine times easier.

Most liquid medications come with an eyedropper attached to the lid. If the medication does not come with an eyedropper, using an individually purchased eyedropper or oral syringe will also work.

As a reminder:

1 ml = 1 cc
5 cc = 1 teaspoon
15 cc = 1 tablespoon

How To Administer Pill Medication To Your Dog

Dr. Dawn Ruben
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

GIVING PILL MEDICATION

Frequently, medications are required for treatment for illness or injury and dogs are sent home with prescription medication. Once your dog is released from the veterinary hospital, administering these medications can be scary, confusing and, sometimes, difficult to do. With practice, giving pill form medications can be quick and easy.

Some medications can be hidden in a small amount of food such as marshmallows, peanut butter or cream cheese but you must make sure that the medication can be taken with food your dog actually swallows the medication. Some dogs will eat the food and spit out the pill. If hiding the pill in food is not working, try the following:

· Gently grasp your dog’s head using your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, use your left hand. Place your hand on top of the muzzle with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other. Avoid holding the lower jaw, and do not hold it so tight that it is uncomfortable or the dog cannot swallow. You may need someone to help hold the front legs and chest of the dog to hold him/her still. Wrapping the dog in a towel or blanket is a good restraint technique.

· Once his head is held in place, raise his nose to point toward the ceiling and firmly squeeze in just behind the upper canine teeth. The mouth should then open.

· Use your other hand to administer the pill. Place the pill between your thumb and forefinger. Use your little finger, ring finger or middle finger to lower the jaw by applying pressure to the teeth between the lower canine teeth.

· After the mouth is fully open, place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible. Avoid placing your hand too far into your dog’s mouth. You may stimulate the “gag reflex” and this will make the experience unpleasant and make future medication administration attempts more difficult.

· Close your dog’s mouth and hold it closed. Gently and briefly rub your dog’s nose or blow lightly on the nose. This should stimulate him to swallow.

· The quicker you perform this procedure, the more cooperative your dog will be.

· Always remember to praise your dog and offer a treat after receiving medication. This will help make future medicine times easier.

How To Apply Topical Medication To Your Dog

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

APPLYING TOPICAL MEDICINE

Medications come in a variety of forms – pills, liquids and ointments. New flea and tick products are most commonly associated with topical application but other drugs are also available, such as antibiotic creams and ointments for wound care.

Some topical medications include an applicator for easy administration. For flea and tick products, once applied to the skin, the medication is absorbed by the skin, where it enters the bloodstream. From there, it is distributed throughout the body. Some, like antibiotic creams and ointments, are intended to work primarily at the site of injury, although a small amount does get absorbed into the system.

Administration of topical medication is quite simple but it requires your pet to remain still for a brief time. The medication needs to be placed in an area that the dog cannot lick. If the medication is intended to treat a wound, your pet may need an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking the wound and medication. For flea and tick treatments, the best recommendation is to place the medication on the skin between the shoulder blades.

Try the following method:

· Hold the applicator upright and snap off the tip to allow the medication to flow out of the applicator.

· Hold your dog still. Your dog can be standing, lying down or even sitting. Just make sure you have access to the necessary area.

· For flea and tick products, read the instructions on the medication to determine if the manufacturers recommend applying in one area or multiple areas.

· For wound treatment, follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on the frequency of medicating the wound.

· Place the tip of the applicator through the hair and place directly against the skin or against the wound.

· Squeeze the applicator until all of the medication has flowed out of the applicator. Try to avoid application of the medication on the hair.

How To Give Injectable Medication To Your Dog

Dr. Dawn Ruben
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

GIVING INJECTIONS

Some dog diseases, most commonly diabetes and allergies, require periodic administration of injectable medications. Proper administration of these medications will help ensure your dogs’ continued good health. Frequently, you will do this at home. If you feel uncomfortable administering injectable medication, discuss alternatives with your veterinarian. Try this method:

· Clean the surface of medication bottle with an alcohol coated cotton ball.

· Insert the needle and syringe into the rubber top of the medication.

· Invert the bottle and draw up the prescribed amount of medication.

· Make sure there are no air bubbles in the syringe.

· Using the skin between the shoulder blades tends to be the easiest way to give injectable medications. The skin does not need to be cleaned with alcohol prior to administering these medications.

· Hold the syringe with the needle exposed in one hand.

· With the other hand, gently lift a small piece of skin between the shoulder blades, at the base of the neck.

· By lifting the skin, an upside down “V” will be formed by the tent in the skin. Insert the needle into the center of this “V” or tented area of skin.

· Once the needle is inserted into the skin, draw back slightly on the syringe plunger and make sure no blood flows into the syringe.

· If no blood is seen in the syringe, push the plunger into the syringe in order to administer the medication.

· Let go of the skin and make sure there is no liquid on the surface of the skin. If there is moisture on the skin, you may have inserted the needle through all layers of skin and out the other side of the tented skin. If this occurs, contact your veterinarian before another attempt is made.

Subcutaneous Fluids In Dogs

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

HOW TO GIVE INJECTABLE FLUIDS AT HOME

Everybody needs water, the most important of all nutrients. Humans are lucky; we can usually drink fluids when we need them. But when animals don’t feel well, they stop drinking. During illness your dog has a greater need for water and can become dehydrated rapidly. In fact, a loss of just 10 percent of body fluid can cause your pet some trouble. It is most important, therefore, that you replace the lost fluids and prevent dehydration.

Fluids can be given in a number of ways. In a hospital setting, intravenous fluids through an intravenous catheter is the most common method. And in emergency situations, fluids are sometimes administered into the abdominal cavity. Your dog can also receive fluids subcutaneously, in the area just under the skin and on top of the underlying muscle. In animals with loose skin over their backs this area works well for fluid administration. The advantages of subcutaneous fluids are the ease of administration, convenience and low cost. Most commonly, they are used in home treatment of mild to moderate kidney disease. However, they are not appropriate for treatment of shock or severe dehydration.

Your dog will probably receive subcutaneous fluids at a veterinary clinic. Then you can take your pet home while the fluids absorb slowly throughout the day. If he needs repeated doses, you can learn to administer subcutaneous fluids at home.

WHAT TYPE OF FLUID DO I USE?

Injectable fluids come in various forms, but only a few should be used for subcutaneous administration. Lactated ringers, 0.9% saline, Ringer’s, Normosol-R, and Plasmalyte are most commonly used. Fluids containing dextrose or sugar solutions should be avoided. These can result in infection at the site of injection or severe skin irritation resulting in possible necrosis (dead tissue).

WHAT SUPPLIES DO I NEED?

In order to administer subcutaneous fluid, you will need a bag of fluid, fluid tubing and a needle. The fluid bag and tubing can be used repeatedly but the needle should be changed frequently.

HOW DO I GIVE THE FLUIDS?

Subcutaneous fluid administration relies on gravity. Connect the bag to the tubing and suspend the bag from an area above the pet. Attach the needle to the tubing. In order to clear the air out of the tubing, open the clamp and allow the fluid to run through the tubing to the outside.

Once the air is removed, close the clamp. Fluids are usually given in the area between the shoulder blades. Clean the area of the skin you have chosen with alcohol. Pinch the skin and insert the needle into the skin fold. The needle may appear quite large but using a larger needle makes the fluid administration go significantly faster and reduces the time your pet must stay restrained in one area.

Once you have placed the needle correctly, let go of the fold and open the clamp on the tubing. The fluid should begin flowing under the skin. If the fluid is dripping very slowly, reposition the needle.

When fluids have been administered, remove the needle and hold gentle pressure on the site for one or two minutes. You may see some of the fluid leaking out of the needle hole, but this is normal and won’t cause any problems

HOW MUCH DO I GIVE?

The amount of fluid you should give depends upon the severity of dehydration. Your veterinarian will tell you how much fluid to give. Try not to exceed 100 milliliters per site unless directed by your veterinarian. If your pet needs 200 mls of fluid every three days, you should give 100 mls in one area, remove the needle and place the needle a little further down on the back and give the second dose of 100 mls.

If the skin becomes tight, stop giving fluids in that area. If your pet is due for another dose of fluids and you think you can still feel fluids under the skin, do not administer more fluids until you consult with your veterinarian.

With patience and practice, you and your dog can become used to the routine of subcutaneous fluid administration. Your pet will stay comfortable and hydrated without the stress of the veterinary clinic.

How To Give Your Cat Medication

How To Administer Ear Medication To Your Cat

Dr. Dawn Ruben
Dermatology & Otic Diseases – General Practice & Preventative Medicine

GIVING EAR MEDICATION

Ear disease, infections and traumas are quite common ailments, and frequently they require prescription medication. For the average person, administering these medications can be confusing and difficult. Some cats resist the medication, especially if their ears are causing them pain.

You need diligence and patience to give the medication. A technique used to administer ear medication is outlined below:

· Have the medication container ready and the cap off.

· Hold your cat’s head still with one hand, while the other hand is used to administer the medication. Many people hold the tip of the affected ear to help hold the cat still. Be very careful not to hold the ear too firmly, which can cause even more pain. Be prepared for your cat to flinch once the medication touches the ear.

· Hold your cat’s head still with one hand, while the other hand is used to administer the medication.

· Remove the container from the ear opening and gently rub the base of the ear to distribute the medication deeper inside the ear.

How To Administer Eye Medication To Your Cat

General Practice & Preventative Medicine – Ophthalmology

GIVING EYE MEDICATION

Frequently, your veterinarian prescribes medication after an eye examination. Administering these medications can sometimes be difficult. Some cats, especially if their eyes are painful, are resistant to the administration of medication. Diligence and patience are necessary to give the medication successfully, which will help resolve the eye problem. There are several techniques that may facilitate giving eye medication (drops or ointment) to your pet.

METHOD 1

· Have someone restrain your cat by holding her front legs and chest, or wrap your cat firmly in a blanket or towel. Let your cat sit on the counter or table and hold the cat closely against your body.

· Place the medication in your dominant hand with the lid off.

· If you are right-handed and the right eye needs medication, rest your right hand on top of the head in order to stabilize your hand. Your hand should be near the inner side of the eye closest to the nose. With your left hand, place the thumb near the lower eyelid and the forefinger near the upper eyelid. This also works if you are left-handed and the cat needs medication in his left eye.

· If you are right-handed and the left eye needs medication, stand on the right side of the cat, facing the same direction as the cat. With the medication in your right hand, rest this hand on top of the head to stabilize. Reach across the cat and place the index finger of your left hand near the lower eyelid and your left thumb near the upper eyelid. This also works if you are left-handed and the right eye needs medication.

· Spread the eyelids apart using your thumb and forefinger.

· Apply the medication directly on the surface of the eye or into the small gap between the lower eyelid and the surface of the eye. Be very careful not to touch the surface of the eye with the tip of the medication container.

· Once the medication has been administered, open and close the eyelid one or two times with your thumb and forefinger in order to spread the medication over the entire surface of the eye.

METHOD 2

· If the eye medication is ointment, gently squeeze about 1/8” out the end of the tube. Hold the cat’s head with your free hand, and with the other hand, touch the crease in the eyelids closest to the nose with the tube of medication. The spot to aim for is the point where the two eyelids meet. The cat will blink the exposed ointment off the tip of the tube.

· The third eyelid sits in this same area and will move upward when the eyelid crease is touched and will prevent the tube from touching the cornea.

· The same method can be used at the outside corner of the eyelids, but there is no third eyelid in this area, so you must be careful not to touch the cornea with the tube.

· After administering the ointment, wipe the tip of the tube with a fresh Kleenex or piece of cotton and replace the cap.

METHOD 3

· If the eye medication is a solution, and if your cat objects to having the medication dropped directly onto the surface of the eye or objects to having the eyelids opened, then simply hold the cat’s head in an upward position and make him look towards the ceiling.

· Approach the eye with the bottle of medication, from either the front of the head or over the top of the back of the head. As the bottle gets closer to the eye, the cat often closes its eyes. Drop a single drop of medication onto the crease where the eyelids touch and come together.

· Continue to hold the head in an upward position for a full minute after the drop is applied to the crease. Gravity will cause the solution to ooze slowly downward through the small gap in the eyelids.

· With this method, some of the solution may be lost onto the skin around the eye, but cats may tolerate this method better.

FOLLOWING ADMINISTRATION OF THE MEDICATIONS

· Most likely your cat will be somewhat disgruntled from the treatment and the restraint. To keep the experience from being too negative (and to keep your cat from hiding the next time he sees the eye medication), speak soothingly to your cat and give him plenty of praise and petting. Also consider giving him a treat or some catnip after the session.

How To Apply Topical Medication To Your Cat

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

APPLYING TOPICAL MEDICINE

Medications come in a variety of forms – pills, liquids and ointments. New flea and tick products are most commonly associated with topical application but other drugs are also available, such as antibiotic creams and ointments for wound care.

Some topical medications include an applicator for easy administration. For flea and tick products, once applied to the skin, the medication is absorbed by the skin, where it enters the bloodstream. From there, it is distributed throughout the body. Some, like antibiotic creams and ointments, are intended to work primarily at the site of injury, although a small amount does get absorbed into the system.

Administration of topical medication is quite simple but it requires your pet to remain still for a brief time. The medication needs to be placed in an area that the cat cannot lick. If the medication is intended to treat a wound, your pet may need an Elizabethan collar to prevent licking the wound and medication. For flea and tick treatments, the best recommendation is to place the medication on the skin between the shoulder blades.

Try the following method:

· Hold the applicator upright and snap off the tip to allow the medication to flow out of the applicator.

· Hold your cat still. Your cat can be standing, lying down or even sitting. Just make sure you have access to the necessary area.

· For flea and tick products, read the instructions on the medication to determine if the manufacturers recommend applying in one area or multiple areas.

· For wound treatment, follow your veterinarian’s recommendation on the frequency of medicating the wound.

· Place the tip of the applicator through the hair and place directly against the skin or against the wound.

· Squeeze the applicator until all of the medication has flowed out of the applicator. Try to avoid application of the medication on the hair.

How To Give Injectable Medication To Your Cat

Dr. Dawn Ruben
General Practice & Preventative Medicine

GIVING INJECTIONS

Some cat diseases require periodic administration of injectable medications. Frequently, this is done by the owner at home. If you feel uncomfortable administering injectable medication, discuss alternatives with your veterinarian. The most common diseases that require injectable medications are diabetes and allergies. Proper administration of these medications will help ensure your cat’s continued health.

· Clean the surface of the medication bottle with an alcohol-coated cotton ball.

· Insert the needle and syringe into the rubber top of the medication bottle.

· Invert the bottle and draw up the prescribed amount of medication.

· Make sure there are no air bubbles in the syringe.

· The skin between the shoulder blades tends to be the easiest way to give injectable medications. The skin does not need to be cleaned with alcohol prior to administering these medications.

· Hold the syringe with the needle exposed in one hand.

· With the other hand, gently lift a small piece of skin between the shoulder blades, at the base of the neck.

· By lifting the skin, an upside down “V” will be formed by the tent in the skin. Insert the needle into the center of this “V” or tented area of skin.

· Once the needle is inserted into the skin, draw back slightly on the syringe plunger, but make sure no blood flows into the syringe. If you draw blood, you’ve hit a blood vessel. Remove the needle at once, and find another location in the skin.

· If no blood is seen in the syringe, push the plunger into the syringe in order to administer the medication.

· Let go of the skin and make sure there is no liquid on the surface of the skin. If there is moisture on the skin, you may have inserted the needle through all layers of skin and out the other side of the tented skin. If this occurs, contact your veterinarian before re-dosing.

How To Give Liquid Medication To Your Cat

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

MEDICATING YOUR CAT

Giving a cat medication is never fun, but sometimes administering it in a liquid form can be the lesser of several evils. Follow this blow-by-blow explanation of how to do it, and you won’t even need a “spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down.” Here’s how:

· Most liquid medications come with an eyedropper attached to the lid. If the medication does not come with an eyedropper, using an individually purchased eyedropper or oral syringe will also work.

· Draw up the prescribed amount of medication in the eyedropper or oral syringe.

· Firmly grasp your cat’s head using your non-dominant hand. If you are right-handed, use your left hand. If you are a lefty, use your right hand. Grasp the top of the head, just on top of the ears with the thumb on one side of the face and the fingers on the other. Avoid holding the lower jaw and do not hold it so tight that it is uncomfortable. Otherwise, your cat can’t swallow. You may need someone to help hold the front legs and chest of the cat to hold him still. Some people find that wrapping a cat in a towel or blanket is a good restraint technique.

· Once the cat’s head is held in place, raise the nose to point toward the ceiling. The mouth should then open.

· Place the tip of the eyedropper or syringe in the mouth just behind the long canine teeth in the area where there are either no teeth or small, flat teeth.

· Advance the eyedropper until it is just past the tooth line (jaw bone).

· Slowly administer the medication and be careful not to give it faster than your cat can swallow.

· Be prepared for some spitting of the medications. If this occurs, do not re-administer another dose unless you feel the entire dose of the medication did not get in.

· The quicker you perform this procedure, the more cooperative your cat will be.

· Always remember to praise your cat and maybe offer a treat after receiving medication. This will help make future medicine times easier.

How To Give Your Cat A Pill

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

GIVING YOUR CAT MEDICATION

Your veterinarian has prescribed pills for your cat and it’s your job to see that your cat takes them. What now? Here’s how to get the job done without turning your cat into a hissing, spitting pill-hating nightmare:

· First, trying hiding the pill in food such as tuna, peanut butter or cream cheese – provided that your veterinarian has said that the medication can be given with food. But watch to be sure that your cat actually takes the pill. Some cats will eat the food and spit out the medicine.

· If hiding the pill in food doesn’t work, you are going to have to administer it physically. Unless you have a wonderfully accommodating cat, start by having a friend hold your cat’s front legs and chest to keep her still. You can also try wrapping her snugly in a blanket or towel.

· Firmly grasp your cat’s head. If you are right-handed use your left hand; if you are a lefty, use your right hand. Put your thumb on one side of your cat’s face and your fingers on the other. Avoid holding the lower jaw and make sure you don’t squeeze the throat. Otherwise, you’ll choke the cat.

· Once your cat’s head is held in place, raise her nose to point toward the ceiling. Her mouth should start to open.

· Place the pill between the thumb and forefingers of your other hand. Use your little finger, ring finger or middle finger to open your cat’s mouth further by applying pressure on her lower front teeth.

· After the mouth is fully open, place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible. Avoid placing your hand too far into your cat’s mouth or she might gag. If this happens she may spit the pill back out.

· Close your cat’s mouth and hold it closed. Gently and briefly rub your cat’s nose, or blow on it. This should stimulate her to lick her nose, causing her to swallow. You can also try to stimulate swallowing by rubbing your cat’s throat. If none of that works, tilt your cat’s head back a little and try again.

· Always remember to praise your cat and maybe give her a treat. This will make future medicine times less traumatic.

Final tip, if your vet approves, it may be a good idea to try this process after your cat has eaten. She may well be calmer and more receptive then.

Subcutaneous Fluids In Cats

General Practice & Preventative Medicine

HOW TO GIVE INJECTABLE FLUIDS AT HOME

Everybody needs water, the most important of all nutrients. Humans are lucky; we can usually drink fluids when we need them. But when animals don’t feel well, they stop drinking. During illness your cat has a greater need for water and can become dehydrated rapidly. In fact, a loss of just 10 percent of body fluid can cause your pet some trouble. It is most important, therefore, that you replace the lost fluids and prevent dehydration.

Fluids can be given in a number of ways. In a hospital setting, intravenous fluids through an intravenous catheter is the most common method. And in emergency situations, fluids are sometimes administered into the abdominal cavity. Your cat can also receive fluids subcutaneously, in the area just under the skin and on top of the underlying muscle. In animals with loose skin over their backs this area works well for fluid administration. The advantages of subcutaneous fluids are the ease of administration, convenience and low cost. Most commonly, they are used in home treatment of mild to moderate kidney disease. However, they are not appropriate for treatment of shock or severe dehydration.

Your cat will probably receive subcutaneous fluids at a veterinary clinic. Then you can take your pet home while the fluids absorb slowly throughout the day. If he needs repeated doses, you can learn to administer subcutaneous fluids at home.

WHAT TYPE OF FLUID DO I USE?

Injectable fluids come in various forms, but only a few should be used for subcutaneous administration. Lactated ringers, 0.9 percent saline, Ringer’s, Normosol-R, and Plasmalyte are most commonly used. Fluids containing dextrose or sugar solutions should be avoided. These can result in infection at the site of injection or severe skin irritation resulting in possible necrosis (dead tissue).

WHAT SUPPLIES DO I NEED?

In order to administer subcutaneous fluid, you will need a bag of fluid, fluid tubing and a needle. The fluid bag and tubing can be used repeatedly but the needle should be changed frequently.

HOW DO I GIVE THE FLUIDS?

Subcutaneous fluid administration relies on gravity. Connect the bag to the tubing and suspend the bag from an area above the pet. Attach the needle to the tubing. In order to clear the air out of the tubing, open the clamp and allow the fluid to run through the tubing to the outside.

Once the air is removed, close the clamp. Fluids are usually given in the area between the shoulder blades. Clean the area of the skin you have chosen with alcohol. Pinch the skin and insert the needle into the skin fold. The needle may appear quite large but using a larger needle makes the fluid administration go significantly faster and reduces the time your pet must stay restrained in one area.

Once you have placed the needle correctly, let go of the fold and open the clamp on the tubing. The fluid should begin flowing under the skin. If the fluid is dripping very slowly, reposition the needle.

When fluids have been administered, remove the needle and hold gentle pressure on the site for one or two minutes. You may see some of the fluid leaking out of the needle hole, but this is normal and won’t cause any problems

HOW MUCH DO I GIVE?

The amount of fluid you should give depends upon the severity of dehydration. Your veterinarian will tell you how much fluid to give. Try not to exceed 100 milliliters per site unless directed by your veterinarian. If your pet needs 200 mls of fluid every 3 days, you should give 100 mls in one area, remove the needle and place the needle a little further down on the back and give the second dose of 100 mls.

If the skin becomes tight, stop giving fluids in that area. If your pet is due for another dose of fluids and you think you can still feel fluids under the skin, do not administer more fluids until you consult with your veterinarian.

With patience and practice, you and your cat can become used to the routine of subcutaneous fluid administration. Your pet will stay comfortable and hydrated without the stress of the veterinary clinic.