Intravenous Fluid (IV Fluids) Therapy in Cats

Intravenous Fluid (IV Fluids) Therapy in Cats

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Intravenous (IV) fluids are a common way to administer fluids to cats at the veterinary hospital. They are commonly used for any cause of dehydration and for conditions such as kidney disease, urinary obstruction, vomiting and diarrhea. We will tell you what IV fluids are and how they are administered.

Fluids are critical to cats. A loss of just 10 percent of body fluid can cause your cat severe illness. It is most important, therefore, that you replace the lost fluids and correct dehydration.

Fluids can be given in a number of ways. In a hospital setting, giving fluids through an intravenous catheter is the most common method.
There are other methods to administer fluids especially in emergency situations, fluids are sometimes administered into the abdominal cavity but this is relatively uncommon. Your cat can also receive fluids subcutaneously, in the area just under the skin and on top of the underlying muscle. For more information on this – go to Subcutaneous Fluid Administration in Cats. Some pet owners learn to do this routinely at home if needed and recommended by your veterinarian.

Your cat will stay at the veterinary clinic when receiving IV fluids. Intravenous fluids gives cats immediate treatment for dehydration and the amount can be easily changed.

What Type of Fluids are used for IV Fluids in Cats?

Injectable fluids come in various forms. Lactated ringers, 0.9 percent saline, Ringer’s, Normosol-R, and Plasmalyte are commonly used. Fluids containing dextrose or sugar solutions are also given, depending on the underlying condition being treated. Supplements such as potassium or vitamin B is common added to the fluids. Drugs may also be added such as metoclopramide to help control vomiting.

How Are Intravenous Fluids Given to Cats?

The most common leg and vein used to administer intravenous fluids is the cephalic vein which is on top of the front leg below the elbow. Other veins can be used such as a vein in the rear leg called the saphenous vein. It is generally only used when the front leg cannot be used for some reason. Other veins such as the jugular vein in the neck can also be used – most often for critical patients or patients that are extremely dehydrated.

To administer IV fluids, the veterinarian or veterinary staff generally clips the hair over the vein to be used and disinfects the skin. A sterile intravenous catheter is inserted. The catheter itself is a flexible soft plastic that stays in the vein. The fluids line is then connected to the catheter through which fluids are administered. The catheter is then taped and bandaged to the leg.

How Much IV Fluids are Given to Cats?

The amount of fluid given will depend on the weight of the pet, the condition being treated, and the pet’s level of dehydration. A common measurement is in milliliters (ml) per hour. For example, a typical 10 pound cat may receive anywhere from 12 to 30 ml/hour. The rate may be higher and given as a “Bolus” which refers to a high volume in a short period of time in emergency cases.

Do Cats Need to Be Sedated with an IV Catheter?

Pets generally do not need sedated to have an IV catheter placed or while it is in place. Most pets tolerate the IV fluids administration very well. Some cats will require an Elizabethton collar (E-collar) to prevent them from chewing on or removing the IV catheter.

I hope this gives you more information on what intravenous fluids are and how they are administered to cats.

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