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Fluids for maintenance and replacement


Recommended maintenance fluid rates (mL/kg/hr)49

Cats Dogs
Formula: 80 x body weight (kg)0.75 Formula: 132 x body weight (kg)0.75
Rule of thumb: 2–3 mL/kg/hr Rule of thumb: 2–6 mL/kg/hr

Whether administered either during anesthesia or to a sick patient, fluid therapy often begins with the maintenance rate, which is the amount of fluid estimated to maintain normal patient fluid balance (Table 3). Urine production constitutes the majority of fluid loss in healthy patients.2,3 Maintenance fluid therapy is indicated for patients that are not eating or drinking, but do not have volume depletion, hypotension, or ongoing losses.

Replacement fluids (e.g., LRS) are intended to replace lost body fluids and electrolytes. Isotonic polyionic replacement crystalloids such as LRS may be used as either replacement or as maintenance fluids. Using replacement solutions for short-term maintenance fluid therapy typically does not alter electrolyte balance; however, electrolyte imbalances can occur in patients with renal disease or in those receiving long-term administration of replacement solutions for maintenance.

Administering replacement solutions such as LRS for maintenance predisposes the patient to hypernatremia and hypokalemia because these solutions contain more sodium (Na) and less potassium (K) than the patient normally loses.Well-hydrated patients with normal renal function are typically able to excrete excess Na and thus do not develop hypernatremia. Hypokalemia may develop in patients that receive replacement solutions for maintenance fluid therapy if they are either anorexic or have vomiting or diarrhea because the kidneys do not conserve K very well.4

If using a replacement crystalloid solution for maintenance therapy, monitor serum electrolytes periodically (e.g., q 24 hr). Maintenance crystalloid solutions are commercially available. Alternatively, fluid made up of equal volumes of replacement solution and D5W supplemented with K (i.e., potassium chloride [KCl], 13–20 mmol/L, which is equivalent to 13–20 mEq/L) would be ideal for replacing normal ongoing losses because of the lower Na and higher K concentration. Another option for a maintenance fluid solution is to use 0.45% sodium chloride with 13–20 mmol/L KCl added.5 Click here for additional resources.