How to Give Your Pet an Injection

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Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell, and today, I’m going to show you how to give your pet an injection. There’s a lot of different reasons you might need to give your dog an injection. There are allergy shots and diabetic pets, and there are some vaccinations that can be purchased at pet stores as well. Here’s some tips and tricks on how to do it.

Most injections are typically given subcutaneously, which means under the skin versus in the muscle. There’s definitely a difference there. Muscle injections tend to be a little bit more painful, but you want to make sure that you are administering it correctly.

So for a subcutaneous injection, typically, we like to use the skin up on the scruff of the neck. They have a lot of extra skin there. And it’s an ideal spot for a subcutaneous injection. In a nice dog like Dina, you might be able to do it by yourself, although especially when you’re beginning, it’s great to have somebody to hold and distract the dog, so that you don’t have to focus on them moving around. So one person to kind of distract, maybe give a treat, give some food, something like that, while you focus on the injection.

I’m right-handed, so I usually like to have the dog faced this way, so that the injection can go this way. And I have several different syringes; this would be what’s typical for insulin, so more of an insulin syringe. Whereas something like this is more typical for allergy injections or vaccinations. So we’ll actually use this one today for Dina. You’re going to want to draw up your injection just like you see in the movies. Upside-down, pull the amount into the syringe, and then push out the extra air. If you have a little air bubble in there, give it a good flick so that the air comes out. And this is just for Dina today, just for the demonstration.

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Always use needles once; they’re not meant to be reused. A larger needle like this should be disposed of properly. You can put it in an empty milk container, for example, works really pretty well. Insulin syringes, you’ll want to put the cap back on. You can put those in an empty milk jug. And most veterinarians will dispose of them properly for you.

So one tip for when you’re giving injections is to hold the skin this way, rather than this way. And the reason is is if you’re holding it this way and you aim here, you can actually go all the way through with your needle, especially in a really thin dog. So if you go this way, you’ve got a little bit more room when you’re aiming right here. And then you want to aim at about a 45-degree angle into the tent that you have. We don’t usually use a lot of alcohol on the skin. And the reason is, especially with insulin injections, is it’s just not necessary. If it makes you feel any better, you certainly can swab the area with rubbing alcohol to sterilize it.

I’ve seen some clients shave a little spot, especially for diabetics, so that they can see the skin better. It’s not a bad idea, so that you can kind of see where your needle is going in. So your cap comes off, skin gets tented, feel that little furrow at about a 45-degree angle. Once you’re in, you should really pull back just to make sure you’re not getting blood or gas. If you’re getting air, then you’re not in the skin. So it has some good negative pressure there. And then you pull that needle straight directly out, and place the cap on it, and then be sure to dispose of it properly.

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