Infusions are among the most important measures for providing the body with fluid and nutrients, not only in human medicine. In veterinary medicine, too, a drip is a valuable treatment method for animals and has a considerable influence on the animal’s health. Our vets use different kinds of infusion to smooth the way to better health for cats, dogs and other animals.
Infusion for an animal – often life-saving
An infusion is given to dogs, cats and other animal species subcutaneously (beneath the skin) or intravenously (into a vein). Vets give infusions subcutaneously especially when no vein can be used, e.g., because the animal is slightly dehydrated. If your pet is no longer able to consume food or water, this type of infusion is often life-saving for cats, dogs and other small animals.
Intravenous infusion for dogs and cats is used more often for continuous delivery of medications. One or more drugs are introduced slowly and steadily via the drip into the animal’s circulation. This helps, for example, in fighting inflammation or diseases that affect the animal’s entire body.
When are infusions used in animals?
An infusion for cats, dogs & co. is one of the medical measures used widely by vets, for example after standard treatment methods have failed. This applies particularly in severe disease, when the animal is no longer able to stand up on its own or take part actively in ordinary animal life. In situations of acute danger, for instance after an accident or poisoning, an infusion is the right decision for dogs, cats and other pets. An infusion supports the circulation and, in addition, medications such as pain-killers or medications for animals with epilepsy can be given through an infusion.
For a drip to be set up quickly for your pet and with the right substances, it is necessary to describe the symptoms exactly to your vet so that he can make a rapid diagnosis. Whether, when and which infusion should be used will be decided by the vet when he or she makes a treatment plan.
What are the ingredients of an infusion for dogs, cats & co.?
Even though there is a variety of different infusion solutions, three particularly important kinds of infusion can be distinguished in veterinary medicine: crystalloid solutions to correct or cover fluid requirements, glucose solutions to provide energy and colloid solutions as “volume replacement”.
Crystalloid infusion solutions
These infusion solutions consist of water and different electrolytes, partially supplemented by what is known as a buffer (to replace proteins and bicarbonate in the body). Frequently used crystalloid infusion solutions include:
- Isotonic saline solution
This infusion consists of sterile water and sodium chloride (NaCl), also familiar as common salt. This infusion is given on its own to animals with advanced dehydration, and otherwise saline solution is used as a vehicle for other drugs and nutrients.
- Ringer solution:
apart from providing fluid to treat dehydration in your pet, this classic infusion is also used as a vehicle for medications. It is thus a preferred choice for infections and inflammation in your pet.
Glucose represents the purest form of energy that is directly available for the metabolism of humans and animals. It is usually not a pure glucose infusion but rather a mixture of different electrolytes and nutrients.
Colloid infusion solutions
These infusion products contain large molecules (macromolecules) such as proteins and carbohydrates and act as what is known as “volume replacement”. Accordingly, such solutions are used when normal blood volume has to be restored, for example after major blood loss.
A distinction is made between:
- Synthetic macromolecules: hydroxyethyl starch, also known as HES or HAES
- Natural proteins: e.g., whole blood, plasma or albumin
Apart from these three kinds, many other infusion solutions are naturally available to the veterinary surgeon, for example potassium chloride (KCL) to correct a potassium deficiency or sodium hydrogen carbonate (Na2CO3) to correct acidosis. Depending on the available findings, the vet thus decides which of the solutions is most suitable for your pet at the present moment.
Your pet’s fur is clipped over a readily accessible superficial blood vessel (usually on a limb). The injection site is first disinfected so that no bacteria can get in. A venous line is then inserted with a venous catheter. This resembles taking a blood sample. There is a prick only when the venous catheter is inserted and otherwise it causes your animal no pain so no anaesthesia is necessary.
A venous catheter consists of a metal needle that is necessary to enter the blood vessel and a plastic part. The metal needle is removed after the catheter is inserted while the plastic part remains in the vein. The vet fixes the venous catheter with special adhesive tape so that it cannot slip out of the blood vessel.
There is a hub on the plastic part to which an infusion tube or injection can be attached. The catheter can stay in the vein for a few days without hurting the animal. The animal does not have to be held firmly to give medication. Also, the vein does not have to be pricked with a needle every time, which greatly reduces pain and stress for dogs, cats and small animals.
Is there any risk associated with giving an infusion?
For many owners, it is not a pleasant sight when their beloved pet has to have a drip inserted. The process is life-saving in acute diseases or after accidents, however, and offers your pet a much greater chance of survival and recovery. The infusions described above also contain completely harmless substances such as water, salt and glucose, with the addition of individually tailored medications as needed.
The experience of a trustworthy vet is essential for correct infusion administration and dosage in dogs, cats & co. He or she will be happy to advise you beforehand and explain which infusion has which medical benefit in cats or dogs. Naturally, the infusion is monitored closely.
If you have you any questions about an infusion for your pet, your vet can give you expert advice.
For many owners, the topic of infusions for cats, dogs and other pets is bound up with uncertainties and questions. Our vets are happy to discuss measures to treat your pet.