Fluid therapy is one of the most important life-saving treatments a vet practice can offer to animals. Animals can require fluids for various reasons, and understanding the best ways to administer this therapy is essential.

Read on to learn more about vet fluid therapy.

What Is Fluid Therapy in Veterinary Medicine?

Fluid therapy is a treatment within veterinary medicine that involves injecting intravascular fluids into patients. This critical care therapy can treat dehydration and restore intravascular volume and skin turgor. The most common use for fluid therapy veterinary treatment is to replenish dogs and cats with fluids lost due to disease, trauma, or other reasons.

IV fluid therapy can be an effective treatment for severe dehydration, as it provides replacement fluid directly to the veins. However, delivering this therapy correctly to a veterinary patient is essential. Specifically, you should know how to calculate fluid administration amounts precisely for each patient.

How Do Vets Calculate Fluid Therapy?

Vets calculate how much fluid to give animals by estimating the total body water within a healthy animal of that size, then determining the deficit.

Dogs and cats typically have an average body water of about 60% of their body weight. However, younger animals can have higher body water compositions. Vets can reference a patient’s age and previous weight to determine its typical body water.

Additionally, intercellular fluid (ICF) encompasses approximately two-thirds of an animal’s total body water. Vets can use this rule of thumb to determine the volume of IV fluids to deliver during fluid therapy.

How Do You Calculate Daily Fluid Maintenance?

Conducting precise fluid therapy calculations is essential to optimize fluid resuscitation while preventing fluid overload. Because every patient is different, vets must calculate the volume of intravenous fluids to administer for ongoing loss and fluid maintenance.

Vets can calculate the daily maintenance fluid requirement, which is the volume of fluids necessary to keep the patient hydrated each day without any changes in total bodily fluids.

To determine the daily fluid maintenance volume, vets must know the animal’s typical body weight. The calculation is as follows:

30 x body weight (kg) x 70 = daily maintenance fluids

How Do You Calculate Rehydration Fluid?

The next step in delivering rehydration intravascular fluid to patients is calculating their fluid deficit, which is the fluid loss amount needed to restore.

Here’s how to calculate the deficit:

Patient’s body weight (lb) x percent dehydration x 500 = fluid deficit

This number represents the volume of IV fluids necessary for resuscitation without ongoing losses.

Veterinary Fluid Therapy Calculator

Many veterinary technicians use specific fluid therapy calculators to determine the exact intravascular fluid volume to restore fluid balance. You can find many fluid therapy calculators online to reference within your practice.

Fluid Therapy Guidelines for Dogs and Cats

Vets should follow specific processes during fluid administration to ensure the best fluid maintenance and resuscitation for each patient. Here are a few guidelines vets should remember during intravenous fluid therapy.

First, vets should conduct a physical examination of each patient to look for signs of dehydration, such as:

  • Dry mucous membranes
  • Decreased urine output
  • Poor skin elasticity or skin turgor
  • Low blood pressure

Then, vets should determine the type of fluid to administer, such as crystalloid, colloid, or subcutaneous fluids (SQ fluids). The vet can also determine whether the patient needs blood product, serum sodium, or additional treatments for resuscitation.

Next, the vet should calculate the percent dehydration and maintenance fluids to administer through the IV catheter. They should follow best practices in veterinary care to insert the catheter, hang the fluid bag, and perform fluid administration.

The American Animal Hospital Association has released guidelines to help veterinarians optimize fluid therapy for patients. Here are a few guidelines mentioned in this article:

  • Vets should provide individualized, tailored care for each patient.
  • Vets should continually re-evaluate fluid therapy as patients’ statuses change.
  • Vets should assess the fluid administration route depending on each patient’s condition.
  • Vets should provide staff training on the monitoring of patient fluid status.
  • Vets should use the right equipment to improve patient safety.

Altogether, fluid therapy can prove an effective dehydration treatment within veterinary practices. However, administering fluid therapy correctly is essential to patient outcomes.

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