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How to set up for intravenous fluid therapy

02 June 2015
12 mins read
Volume 6 · Issue 5



The use of intravenous fluid therapy (IVFT) is common in veterinary practice as there are many different types of patients requiring cardiovascular support. These patients include those with medical conditions, those being anaesthetised for surgery, and emergency patients. While fluid selection and administration rates are the remit of the veterinary surgeon (VS), registered veterinary nurses (RVN) are primarily responsible for pre-infusion blood sampling and testing, preparing infusions, obtaining intravenous access, administering the infusion and monitoring the patient's progress. This article will outline the indications for IVFT, discuss initial patient assessment, fluid selection and goals associated with fluid administration, before considering the preparation and administration of infusions, and subsequent patient monitoring.

Intraveous fluid therapy (IVFT) is an essential pharmacological intervention for many patients in veterinary practice, and is prescribed by the veterinary surgeon (VS). Patients generally require IVFT if the following disturbances are detected:

Patients with medical conditions and emergency patients are the ones that people tend to associate the most with absolutely needing IVFT to aid their recovery, however it is also important to remember that perianaesthetic IVFT is also advisable. Davis et al (2013) highlighted the importance of IVFT for patients under anaesthetic, and outlined the key ways in which IVFT does help these patients:

Whatever the indication is for IVFT, the registered veterinary nurse (RVN) must be knowledgeable regarding patient assessment, fluid choices, goals associated with administration, how to monitor the efficacy of the infusions and how to prepare, administer and maintain an infusion correctly and safely.

The VS will initially assess the patient by taking a history from the animal's owner, considering the main complaint or reason for presentation. A full physical clinical examination will be performed to identify some differential diagnoses, or indeed the definitive diagnosis, and establish the effectiveness of the patient's cardiovascular functioning and tissue perfusion.

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