HomeCat Healthkidney diseaseWhy do American vets allow cat owners to give Sub-Q injections while British vets don’t?


Why do American vets allow cat owners to give Sub-Q injections while British vets don’t? — 20 Comments

  1. Our dog has ckd from birth our vets are so far behind the USA when it comes to treatment like living in some horrible backwater in the UK

  2. I have give SubQ fluids as well as injections to many, many cats, still do. And, I know many caretakers who administer their cats’ insulin, antibiotics, etc. Many vet clinics welcome such participation and will train caretakers.
    It is easier and less stressful for people and cats all around. Doing this for our cats, in no way, means that they are neglected by our vets. The cats are seen regularly and often.
    A lot of cats receiving fluids are in end stage renal disease and, I know for myself, that I would rather have my beloved cat die with me than on a cold counter in a vet office receiving treatment without me.
    A part of all this has to do with cost containment. But, most of it has to do with the comfort of our cats. This country is overrun with cats, and I don’t know how all would be managed without willing caretaker participants.
    I just read that an average American vet sees close to 200 animals per week.

  3. I was honored to be able to provide daily sub-q treatments to my beloved Shannon, many years ago, as he valiantly waged his final battle against chronic kidney failure. Shannon had beaten the odds for several years, as he was also a victim of FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), undoubtedly the result of his regular battles with the Oriental cat who lived next door. By the time he was diagnosed with that condition, I felt it was not necessary to keep him separated from our other house cats, and none of them ever contracted that disease.

    Shannon’s daily dosing of sub-q fluids became a bonding time for both of us during his final months of life at 19 years. As others have mentioned, by using an ultra-fine needle, and a very slow drip, he was barely aware of the procedure. I sat on my canopy bed, which was convenient for hanging the bag of fluids. Shannon lay next to me, and when he was comfortable, I carefully lifted a loose “tent” of skin between his shoulder-blades. The fluid bag had a gauge which could be adjusted for the speed of the drip. I chose a slow drip, which was more comfortable for the cat.

    It was a bonding period for both of us, and I told him how much I loved him and how happy I was that he had come to live with us. I sang to him, silly little made-up songs, which he seemed to enjoy. And sometimes I couldn’t stop the tears, because I knew that at 19 years, his time with me would soon be over.

    Sure enough, he suffered a seizure one evening as I was giving him a treatment, and when I rushed him to our veterinarian, he told me that it was time to let him go, as Shannon had already let me know.

    • Franny, what a beautiful comment. So very touching and moving. You certainly now how to administer Sub-Qs. I have never done it. I think American vets are ahead of the Brits on this one.

      • Thank you, Michael. It was somewhat cathartic to write about Shannon. I think many of us have a “forever cat” who plays a major role in our lives, and Shannon was mine. And yes, ginger cats have always been favorites of mine, since Tinker, my first cat after my marriage. But I’ll never forget my Shannon.

    • Franny, I love your comment.
      Your love for Shannon seeps out of every line.
      I’m glad that you had every minute with him. I doubt that you have any regrets. I never do.

      • Dee, thank you for your lovely comments. No regrets here at all. My current ginger boy is Jaspurr, who at 14 is hyperthyroid, but so far his kidneys are okay.

        And we’re practically neighbors, as I live in central Georgia (Buford).

        I read on about your experiences with your Chester, and with CPR for cats. I envy you your knowledge and abilities.

        Nowadays at almost 80, my abilities are more in the writing and less in the actual physical care, except for the routine things. It’s a good policy, with eight indoor cats, currently. 😀

  4. I think it’s probably a stretch to think that because some vets declaw in the US that veterinarians here are somehow less caring. Despite it being legal most vets are not drooling with a hatchet to make a few bucks off mutilating cats at the owners whim. Although I was shocked at the Houston Humane Society offering declaws and needs to be addressed.
    I have worked in large barns where at the instruction of vets have performed many tasks that involved some technical ability not on the whim of the client and their wallet but to make sure timely treatments were carried out as many vets cannot show up daily multiple times for a treatment. Learning to do sub Q makes the lives of many cats better and less stressful than being taken to a vet daily. It is a viable treatment that can happen at home with some skill learning. Animals with long term chronic condition or palliative care benefit from being treated at home. It goes without saying that these treatments are under the recommendation of a vet this isn’t home treatment to avoid veterinarians or vet bills but to minimize stress on the animal and owner and avoid unnecessary appointments that do cost the pet owner.

    • I have come to the conclusion that you are correct about giving Sub-Qs at home. America vets are more open to it and that, I believe, is a good thing.

  5. i think this is a 6 in 1 hand & half-dozen in the other situation. one side will ALWAYS say their way is better than the others. its like saying “which country is better”. each side will say theirs is, of course. very few will say the others is. so in that i believe THIS is a very slanted article.theres also a lot of other things to take into consideration as well, iv drug usage by the owner being just 1 issue. so that should be taken into it also.

    • I agree Ed. The are pros and cons for American and British vets. I wish British vets were more open to cat owners administering Sub-Qs at home. There are definite advantages.

  6. “British vets focus more on the what is good for the cat and less on what the client demands. ”

    So according to British vets, it’s good for a cat in kidney failure to be taken to a vet every day or every other day???? Every trip to a vet is exceptionally stressful for the cat, so you subject your sick cats to stress because your vets think you aren’t able to learn to do it yourself? It sounds more like a money-grabbing technique to me than care for the cat. Also, pray tell me how the people with sick cats manage taking their cats to the vet every day?

    Incidentally, do your doctors trust your diabetics to self-inject insulin?

    Oh, and my IBD cat (yes, it’s me above) needed vitamin B12 injections. My vet taught me to do it in one single visit. It was easier than pilling a cat which I needed to do too. There is plenty of loose skin between the cat’s shoulder blades and hardly any nerves. With fine needles, the cat barely notices your doing it if you do it right. Yes, you need to make sure you pull the skin enough so that there is an empty area for you to inject; also be careful not to hit the muscle (though if you do, the cat will run from you so fast…), but it’s hardly rocket science. I am super-uncoordinated and I managed it. If I did, I am sure everyone can.

  7. I’ve done sub cutaneous fluids for almost 20 years for my cats. It’s a multi-step medical procedure where everything needs to go right every time, not the least of which you need to have that trusting rapport, gentle manner and skill at this. I’m good at it but each time is different, and no one has ever supervised me, which is one thing I’d suggest. There was a workshop I attended once where everyone had their hand at poking a cat (poor thing) but I just watched as I didn’t need the practice. There’s much more involved, some of which they didn’t go over, but anyone who cares to help their pet will be mindful. There’s timing, technique and observing if it is helpful. Warming the water just right, running the tube through a bowl of warm water so it’s still warm when it reaches the needle… choosing that size (too little and the longer it takes; too big and it hurts too much). Being able to switch to a new needle with one hand. Etc, etc. It doesn’t always go well and mistakes can happen, which you’ll feel bad about, but the trade off is getting that done for your pet. The alternative is paying the vet to have it done every day, which most people won’t do. I’ve tried every way, including just letting the cat drink, which isn’t good enough. I’ve been able to help my cats with it and am glad for the opportunity, but I’d say it takes a high level of expertise as a layperson.

    • It’s not just that taking a cat to the vet every day isn’t something most people would want to do, it’s also extremely stressful for the cat. What kind of a quality of life it’s for a cat if she is subjected to a trip to a vet every single day? Not to mention, most people work for living…

      I know people who did sub-Q fluids for the cat, they learned as you did. You can learn anything if you need to.

    • You are very experienced at this form of home treatment. I am impressed. I wish I had the opportunity to do it in the UK. Vets here don’t seem to suggest it. Perhaps I’ll suggest it next time. If there is a next time.

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