2. Crystalloid solutions
CRYSTALLOID fluids contain water, electrolytes and non-electrolyte solutes, and can enter all body fluid compartments. They can be used to replace fluid deficits or to provide for ongoing losses, and play an important role in small animal veterinary practice. Replacement solutions are required for patients with deficits of either electrolytes, water or, most commonly, both. Maintenance solutions are indicated once an animal has been stabilised to provide for normal fluid and electrolyte demands, or if patients have solely pure water loss. Replacement solutions can be used as maintenance solutions provided they are supplemented with potassium and the animal is capable of excreting the extra sodium. This is possible in most cases, but extra care must be taken with patients with compensated congestive heart failure or those with hyper- or hyponatraemia, and in situations of pure water loss. This article describes the properties of commonly used crystalloid solutions and their indications. An article in the March issue of In Practice will review colloid solutions. Part 1, published in the last issue (In Practice, January 2008, volume 30, pp 16-19), discussed patient assessment and the principles of fluid therapy in small animals.
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