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  • Writer's pictureDr. Pamela Dragos

Subcutaneous Fluids and Kidney Disease in Pets

What are the symptoms of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)?

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is the most common kidney disorder in dogs and cats. CKD is a progressive loss of kidney function. The first indication that your pet may have kidney issues is an increase in urination. Next, pets develop increased thirst in order to compensate for the excessive urination. Various metabolic and electrolyte disturbances result from the kidney’s inability to function properly. Symptoms such as vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, muscle atrophy, weakness, lethargy, diarrhea or constipation, bad breath, sores in the mouth, and pale gums commonly occur in pets with CKD.

Why do Pets with Chronic Kidney Disease Need Subcutaneous Fluids?

Pets with CKD usually cannot drink enough water to make up for their increased urination, resulting in dehydration. Dogs and cats that are critically dehydrated may need IV fluid therapy in a veterinary hospital. Once your pet is stabilized or if your pet has mild to moderate symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend subcutaneous (SC) fluids. Fluid therapy corrects dehydration, maintains hydration, flushes nitrogenous wastes (BUN) out of the kidneys, settles the stomach, and can improve appetite and activity in some pets with CKD.

How are Subcutaneous (SC) Fluids Administered?

Subcutaneous (SC) fluids can be done by your veterinarian, a veterinary technician or by you. SC fluids are administered to your pet with a sterile hypodermic needle attached to a bag of sterile balanced electrolyte solution by sterile IV tubing. Veterinarians commonly prescribe SC fluids to pets with CKD with instructions for the pet parent to administer a set amount of sterile balanced electrolyte solution (fluids) subcutaneously several times a week, at home. This procedure is easier said than done. I find that most pet parents are hesitant to stick a needle in their pet to administer SC fluids at home. Subcutaneous fluid administration is one of the most common procedures that the certified veterinary technicians of Synergy House Call Vet Techs perform for pets in the comfort of their own home. Synergy House Call Vet Techs in Phoenix, AZ (

What Else can I do for my Pet with CKD?

Other ways to encourage water consumption is to use pet water fountains, add water or broth to the food, feed a fresh food diet, and have water available at all times.

Holistic modalities offer more options and more hope for pets with Chronic Kidney Disease. Holistic Veterinary Medicine takes the whole patient into account and determines the best therapies, foods, herbs and supplements for each patient individually. Holistic Vet Telehealth | Virtual Consultations and Herbal Supplements | Holistic Veterinary Consultations (


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