Although a majority of owners are never faced with the need to give their canine best friend an injection, for other owners it is a part of their daily life. Long term medical conditions including diabetes and allergies frequently make it necessary for owners to learn how to give their pet injections at home in order to avoid frequent and often costly visits to their veterinarian. While a majority of dogs are very well behaved when receiving injections, others may not be as cooperative, so extra assistance may be necessary. Here are some basic steps to giving your dog a subcutaneous injection at home:
- Dispense medication into the syringe as instructed by your veterinarian. Medications are frequently different from patient to patient, so owners should always check the prescription label for directions. Owners should also make certain that the syringe they are using is the correct size and type for the medication being administered. Some medications such as insulin have specific syringes that are required for proper dosing.
- If you have an assistant, allow them to properly restrain your pet prior to giving the injection. Your veterinarian can show you proper restraining techniques in order to avoid injury to you or your pet. Remember that not all pets require maximum restraint and depending on their temperament and disposition, minimal restraint is frequently adequate when giving subcutaneous injections.
- Once your pet is restrained and you have the medication in the syringe, kneel beside the dog in a calm and positive manner. This will help reassure your pet. Feel for your dog’s shoulder blades at the base of their neck just back from their scruff area. Gently pinch and raise the skin between the shoulder blades with your non-dominant hand. This should create an upside down “v” or tent in the skin.
- Remove the cap from the syringe and grasp it between your thumb and index finger making sure that the needle opening (or bevel) is facing upwards. Smoothly and carefully insert the needle into the skin to a depth just beyond the needle bevel.
- Pull back slightly on the syringe plunger in order to ensure that you are in the skin and have not inadvertently punctured a vessel. As long as no blood appears in the syringe, slowly press the plunger in to administer the medication. Be certain that the plunger is all the way depressed prior to removing the needle from your dog’s skin.
- Release the tented skin and check the area for any minor bleeding prior to releasing your pet from restraint. Injection sites should be varied slightly each time in an attempt to avoid your dog becoming sensitive or tender at a single injection site. Should this occur, your veterinarian or their staff can show you alternative locations that are adequate for subcutaneous injection sites.
If you have additional questions or concerns regarding your pet’s medication or injections always contact your veterinarian.
Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff