Administering Drugs by Injection

a bottle of insulin and syringeInsulin, to stabilise diabetic pets, is the most common drug that has to be administered via injection by owners, however there may be other occasions when this is required.

Is the injection painful?

Single use syringes and needles ensure that a sterile syringe with a very sharp needle is used each time. Since the needle is very fine most dogs do not even notice the injection. 

What happens if my dog moves when I give the injection?

It is always helpful to have someone holding the dog still while you give the injection. If not instructed otherwise, give the dog a little food when making the injection to distract his attention. This is a very useful ploy if you have to give the injection single handed.

Is there any danger that I will break the needle if he doesn’t keep still?

This is extremely unlikely. The needle may bend if the dog moves but it is much more likely that the injection may end up outside the dog. It is for this reason that it is suggested you try to have help to ensure the dog is kept still when injected. If you have any concerns that all the injection has not been administered, please contact us without delay. 

Can you explain the exact technique of giving an injection?

Subcutaneous injections are placed beneath the skin which in the dog is considerably looser than with us. 

Your veterinarian may or may not advise swabbing the skin with a detergent or spirit to clean and sterilise it. In some cases this is unnecessary. A fold of skin is lightly held between thumb and forefinger and raised from the underlying tissue. The syringe should either be held like a pencil or a dagger with the other hand. The needle is inserted swiftly into the fold of skin, keeping the barrel roughly parallel with the fold but with the needle angled downwards. Most injections are given in syringes small enough to allow the plunger to be depressed with the palm of the same hand once the needle has been positioned. This should be done fairly swiftly. Once the injection has been completed the needle is then quickly withdrawn and the area thoroughly massaged. If you cannot manage the one handed technique the importance of having someone hold the dog is even greater. The only difference in the technique is that the other hand is then used to depress the plunger. The syringe is then removed as before and the site rubbed.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Trevor Turner, BVetMed, MRCVS, FRSH, MCIArb, MAE. Adapted by Philip H Brain, BVSc, CMAVA, FACVSc (small animal medicine), FAVA

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