Colloid solutions, both natural and synthetic, had been widely accepted as having superior volume expanding effects than crystalloids. Synthetic colloid solutions were previously considered at least as effective as natural colloids, as well as being cheaper and easily available. As a result, synthetic colloids (and HES in particular) were the preferred resuscitation fluid in many countries. In the past decade, several cascading events have called into question their efficacy and revealed their harmful effects. In 2013, the medicines authorities placed substantial restrictions on HES administration in people which has resulted in an overall decrease in their use. Whether natural colloids (such as albumin-containing solutions) should replace synthetic colloids remains inconclusive based on the current evidence. Albumin seems to be safer than synthetic colloids in people, but clear evidence of a positive effect on survival is still lacking. Furthermore, species-specific albumin is not widely available, while xenotransfusions with human serum albumin have known side effects. Veterinary data on the safety and efficacy of synthetic and natural colloids is limited to mostly retrospective evaluations or experimental studies with small numbers of patients (mainly dogs). Large, prospective, randomized, long-term outcome-oriented studies are lacking. This review focuses on advantages and disadvantages of synthetic and natural colloids in veterinary medicine. Adopting human guidelines is weighed against the particularities of our specific patient populations, including the risk–benefit ratio and lack of alternatives available in human medicine.