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Some medications can only be administered by injection, and while putting a needle in your dog’s skin can be a bit intimidating, here’s a how-to guide that will help ease your worries, so you can help your dog feel better — without injuring him or yourself.
Certain medications, such as insulin, can only be administered by injection. Most injectable medications given at home are done subcutaneously (known as an SC or SQ injection), which means the medicine is injected directly under the skin. Others can be injected into a vein (intravenous, or IV injection) or into a muscle (intramuscular, or IM injection). If you’re not sure which type of injection you’re supposed to give, contact your veterinarian, as complications can arise if you accidentally give a medication intravenously instead of subcutaneously, for example.
Before you start, ask your veterinary health care team for advice and training on how to give the medicine, and tips on preventing injury (to you and your dog). If you still feel uncomfortable or need additional training sessions, don’t be afraid to ask!
Here are a few things to consider:
The syringe is the clear cylinder that holds the medication to be injected. (It’s usually made of plastic.) The needle is the sharp, metal tip that’s injected into the skin. The plunger is a stem that moves inside the syringe. Pull the plunger backward to fill the syringe and push it forward to empty the syringe. A new needle, plunger, and syringe are sterile until they’re opened, as is the medicine itself. It’s important to handle these items properly to avoid contaminating them. Your veterinary care team will show you how to open a syringe and draw up the medication without compromising sterility. Be sure to use a new syringe, plunger, and needle for each injection, since reusing syringes and needles can cause infection. Plus, a used needle is dull and therefore more painful for your dog than a new needle.
A small dog may be happy lying or sitting on your lap while you administer an injection. For a larger dog, you may need to sit in a chair next to the dog or sit on the floor with the dog. Some dogs do better on a smooth surface, such as a table. Placing a small dog on top of the washing machine can simulate the smooth metal table at the veterinarian’s office, encouraging the dog to remain still during the procedure. You may find it easier still if you have a partner to help: One person can hold the dog while the other gives the injection.
Your veterinary care team will show you how to administer an injection before you have to do it alone at home, but here are steps to keep in mind:
There are a few precise areas on the body that are best for intramuscular injections. Your veterinary care team will show you how to find an appropriate injection site and administer the medication before you have to try it alone at home, but if you forget anything, here are steps to keep in mind:
This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.
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