How to Administer Subcutaneous Fluids to a Dog

Two Methods:Using a Syringe and NeedleUsing Extension Sets

Your veterinarian may suggest giving your dog fluids under the skin if it has a medical condition that causes dehydration, such as canine kidney disease. There are 2 common methods for pet owners to give fluid injections. The simplest method uses only a syringe and needle. The other method adds flexible tubing, known as an extension set. Your vet will provide you with sterile fluid equipment. This article will explain how to administer subcutaneous fluids to a dog.

Method 1
Using a Syringe and Needle

  1. 1
    Wipe down the injection site on your dog's shoulders or back with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol so you can clearly see the skin.
  2. 2
    Remove the needle from its plastic packaging without removing the tip cover.
  3. 3
    Place the wide part(hub) of the needle over the top of the syringe.
    • Screw the needle and syringe together.
  4. 4
    Remove the wrapper from the bag of fluid just before injection.
    • The neck of the bag has 2 tubes called ports. You will be using the port covered by a rubber stopper (injection port).
  5. 5
    Clean the rubber stopper with an antiseptic agent such as Novalsan or Betadine.
    • This is recommended if you will be using the same fluid bag more than once. Alcohol is not recommended for cleaning in this case.
  6. 6
    Pull off the cap to the needle and place the needle tip in the injection port.
    • Ensure the needle is inserted in the center of the rubber stopper so it doesn't puncture the port tube.
  7. 7
    Hold the syringe barrel steady while drawing back the plunger.
  8. 8
    Fill the syringe to the dosage prescribed by your vet.
  9. 9
    Pinch the skin upward at the injection site using your non-dominant hand.
  10. 10
    Insert the needle of the syringe into the long skin fold caused by the pinching.
  11. 11
    Pull back on the plunger to check for air bubbles or blood.
    • Remove the needle and reposition it if bubbles or blood appear in the syringe.
  12. 12
    Drop the folded skin and push the plunger to inject the fluids.
  13. 13
    Put used needles into a "sharps" container or other heavy-duty container. Contact your vet or local officials for proper disposal regulations.

Method 2
Using Extension Sets

  1. 1
    Take the extension set out of the wrapper.
  2. 2
    Pull off the plastic cap on one end and insert it into the tip of the syringe.
  3. 3
    Remove the cap on the other end and place this end into the hub of a covered needle.
    • The two ends are different shapes. The "female" end is the one that fits over the syringe tip. The "male" end is an end that is inserted into the needle hub.
  4. 4
    Insert the needle attached to the extension set into the injection port as described in the "Syringe and Needle" section.
  5. 5
    Draw the prescribed amount of fluid into the syringe.
  6. 6
    Push some of the fluid through the extension tubing to evacuate air bubbles.
  7. 7
    Administer the fluids using the same technique as the "Syringe and Needle."
  8. 8
    Put a capped, clean needle on the end of the extension set if you will be using the same syringe and extension set later.
  9. 9
    Put used needles into a "sharps" container or other heavy-duty container. Contact your vet or local officials to find proper disposal places.


  • Consult with your vet to decide what needle gauge size to use. The gauge size depends on the size of your dog.


  • Never use bags if the fluid appears cloudy or discolored. It has been contaminated with bacteria.
  • Always use a new sterile needle to draw fluids from the bag.
  • Check your dog's belly for bloating from fluid retention before administering more. When fluid is accumulating around the belly, it is not being absorbed. Contact your vet for advice.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle
  • Syringe
  • Fluid bag
  • Extension set (if applicable)

Article Info

Categories: Canine Health