Sometimes it is necessary to give dogs an injection. Most of the vaccines that protect the animal against various diseases come in the form of an injection, and some medications also need to be administered in the same way. Administering the injections on their own has certain benefits - for example, it can be less stressful for the dog to have the injection at home. This practice also lowers the costs associated with veterinarian visits. However, learn the procedure before putting it into practice. You must do it correctly to preserve the animal's health and well-being.
Part 1 of 3: Preparing to give the injection
Step 1. Read the authorization forms carefully
When purchasing vaccines and other medications from a veterinarian that you can administer on your own, you will need to sign an authorization form. Please read the document carefully as it not only contains valuable information, it will help you understand your responsibilities when administering injections yourself.
- Signing the authorization form implies that you accept full responsibility for the injections given to the animal and that you are aware of what reactions or accidents may occur. The form will contain information regarding possible allergic reactions, among others, which can be fatal and occur even if the injection is administered correctly.
- The form will advise that the injection may not be effective if it has expired, is not refrigerated for a long time, is administered incorrectly, or if it is exposed to heat, sunlight, or freezing temperatures.
- Some forms state that administering a rabies vaccine on your own will make it invalid by law enforcement agencies and animal health professionals. Check if such clause is in the form and, if so, read about the repercussions. Legally, the animal will not be considered vaccinated against rabies, which means that it will not be accepted in kennels and that you may not be able to adopt other dogs from animal shelters (depending on regulations in the region).
Step 2. Familiarize the dog with the syringe before giving the injection
If the dog has previously received vaccines from the veterinarian, he will likely associate them with pain and discomfort. To combat this problem, let the dog look, sniff and touch the empty syringe (and without the needle). This "presentation" should take place in a comfortable place in the house.
Offer snacks and other forms of positive reinforcement during such sessions. You can, for example, pay attention, praise and play with the animal. This will help reduce his stress and make him associate the syringe with positive feelings when he is about to receive the injection
Step 3. Combine the powder and liquid
Some substances used in injections, especially vaccines, come in two vials: a vial of liquid and a vial of powder. The liquid and powder must be mixed before administering the injection.
- Place the syringe needle into the vial of liquid and pull the plunger until the entire contents are sucked out.
- Place the syringe in the vial with the powder. Pour the entire contents of the syringe into the vial before withdrawing it.
- Shake the bottle until the powder completely dissolves. There should be no lumps or debris accumulated at the bottom of the bottle.
Step 4. Fill the syringe with the desired amount
It is important to know how many milliliters of medicine or vaccine should be given to the dog. Before giving the injection, fill the syringe with the correct amount of liquid.
- Insert the syringe into the vial with the mixed liquid and powder. Pull the plunger up to fill the syringe with the number of milliliters you want.
- Check that there are no air bubbles. If you notice any, push the plunger to empty the syringe and try again.
Part 2 of 3: Administering the vaccine
Step 1. Familiarize yourself with the three types of injection
While there are three different types of injections for dogs, only one type can be given by someone other than the veterinarian - subcutaneous injections. If the injection you intend to give the dog is not in this category, you will need to take the animal to the veterinarian.
- Subcutaneous vaccines are given just under the skin. Most vaccines and injections are subcutaneous. They are usually given to the loose skin just above the dog's shoulders. Always use the subcutaneous method when giving a dog an injection. If the drug or vaccine specifically states that it should be administered in another way, take the puppy to the veterinarian.
- Intramuscular vaccines are injected into muscle. Finding the muscle on your own can be difficult if you are not a professional veterinarian. If it becomes necessary to administer such a vaccine to your puppy, it is best to take him to the vet.
- Intravenous injections must also be administered by a veterinarian. In this case, the substance is injected into the vein, so do not try this procedure alone. Vaccines are generally not given intravenously.
Step 2. Find a flat surface
It is necessary to use a flat, solid surface when administering the injection to the dog.
- A solid surface (for example, a table or counter) will provide plenty of space while you administer the medication. Find a place where you can comfortably perform the procedure.
- Perform the procedure with a friend or relative. As much as the dog is normally calm, he may move or thrash when he feels the sting. It is important to have someone else on site to hold the dog during the injection. This is particularly important if the dog is small and prone to jumping off a table or counter.
Step 3. Lift the dog's fur, using your fingers to form a pouch out of it
As the administration will be subcutaneous, it is ideal to do it on the loose skin behind the animal's shoulder.
Use your non-dominant hand to lift the dog's fur away from the shoulder. Then, using the index and middle finger of the dominant hand (which should hold the syringe), position the needle 90 degrees from the stretched surface of the skin. Push the skin in to form a small pouch. This will reduce the risk of giving the injection to another part of the body or a sensitive area accidentally
Step 4. Administer the injection
Press the needle against the dog's skin.
- Before injecting, pull the plunger back a little. A small amount of blood will be drawn into the syringe if you have inserted the needle into a vein. This can be dangerous for the dog. Remove the needle, refill the syringe with clean medicine and reinsert the needle.
- When you are able to insert the needle into a safe place, push the syringe plunger in slowly until all the liquid is injected.
Part 3 of 3: Watching the Dog Next
Step 1. Check the animal's skin for reactions
It is normal for a dog to have a little sore skin after the injection, but this can also be a sign of an allergy or infection. Continue to look at the animal's skin after the injection to check for signs of more severe reactions.
- Mild reactions are quite common and manifest as lumps or swellings at the injection site. This can only last a few hours, but it can also go on for up to a week.
- If you notice hives, rashes, or swelling anywhere other than the injected part, such as on the head or shoulders, seek veterinary care. This could be a sign of a more severe allergic reaction that requires medical attention.
Step 2. Be aware that reactions are common
Such reactions to injections, especially vaccines, are very common. In most cases, the benefits outweigh the risks involved. However, the dog can exhibit a range of mild symptoms, which should disappear within a week.
- Tiredness and low-grade fever are some of the most common reactions to injections. The dog may be lethargic and have a poor appetite for a few days after the injection.
- It is also possible for the dog to experience pain in the areas around the injected site. Be careful when touching the dog after injections, especially when approaching the dog's shoulders.
Step 3. Know in which cases you will need immediate veterinary assistance
Severe allergic reactions are rare but may occasionally occur. If so, the reaction will usually occur within 20 to 30 minutes of giving the injection - fainting being the most common sign. If the dog shows any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
- If possible, ask a friend who also owns a dog for help when administering the injection. It is likely that he also knows how to handle a dog correctly and in a way that causes as little stress as possible.
- It may be a good idea to purchase a muzzle to ensure the dog does not bite during the injection. Even the most docile dog can bite when frightened or immobilized. You can buy a soft, comfortable muzzle at a pet store or secure the dog's mouth by wrapping gauze around the muzzle area and tying it behind the ears.
- Some vaccines come in the form of reconstituted liquids, which must be carefully dripped or squeezed into the pet's nostrils. The process requires special equipment; in addition, dogs tend to move around a lot, so ideally, the veterinarian will give the intranasal vaccine.