Subcutaneous Fluids

Subcutaneous Fluid Administration

By Dr. Karen Burgess


  • Keep supplies at room temperature.
  • Prior to getting your pet, set up your administration set.
  • Remove fluid bag and administration tubing from packaging.
  • Remove plastic tab from end of fluid bag.
  • Hang fluid bag ideally just above head height (the higher the bag the faster the fluids will flow due to gravity).
  • Remove cap from pointed end of administration set and carefully pierce fluid bag; do not touch tip of administration set during this process.
  • Squeeze clear plastic tube on administration set immediately below fluid bag to fill chamber partially; the idea is to keep air out of the line but still be able to see the fluid drip into the chamber. If you fill the chamber too full you will not be able to see the drips. In this situation, take the bag down, hold it upside down, squeeze chamber to empty fluid back into the fluid bag, and start again.
  • After the chamber is partially full, use roll bar on the fluid line to open up flow. Once fluid is flowing freely from end of line, reclamp the roll bar stopping flow of fluid.
  • Place a fresh needle on end of administration tubing.


  • Chose a time of day and location that are as relaxing as possible for fluid administration. This may be on your lap, a favorite pillow, or perched near a window.
  • Offer your pet a high value food reward while giving fluids or immediately after if possible. This can often help alleviate some of the negative feelings they may have about the process.

Fluid Administration

  • Lift a scruff of skin at nape of neck forming a tent or triangle.
  • Taking care to not stick your own hand, pierce skin with needle perpendicular to the skin. Insert until needle is no longer visible.
  • If blood is seen after needle insertion, remove the needle and use a different location.
  • The needle should pierce the skin easily and cause minimal discomfort. If needle seems dull or causes unexpected pain, replace with a new needle and try again.
  • Using one hand open up roll bar clamp on fluids allowing flow while holding pet with other hand. It may be necessary to have an extra pair of hands to help.
  • Watch line on fluid bag until volume desired has been administered.
  • Close roll bar clamp and swiftly remove needle from pet. Replace lid and then replace needle with fresh needle (thus ensuring a new needle at the start of every treatment).
  • Do not touch the needle or the end of the administration tubing with your hands or to any other surfaces. These should be kept as sterile as possible with the needle only coming into contact with your pet’s skin.

Fluid Pocket

  • The pocket of subcutaneous fluids is absorbed overtime by the body. If you notice the pocket is still present (you may find it in the same location or “settled” under the chest or belly) at your next scheduled administration time, do not give further fluids and contact Healthy Paws Animal Hospital