How to Give a Dog an Injection Under the Skin

by Martha Adams
    Yipes, that stings!

    Yipes, that stings!

    Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Dogs with diabetes or severe allergies need daily injections. It's not really fun to stick a needle in your best friend, but it's easier for both of you than dragging him to the vet daily to protect his health or keep him alive.

    Prep

    Step 1

    Open the medication package, remove the information sheet and read carefully.

    Prep

    Step 2

    Follow all instructions concerning mixing.

    Prep

    Step 3

    Read the medication label and determine the dosage.

    Prep

    Step 4

    Remove the cover from the plunger end of the syringe and discard.

    Prep

    Step 5

    Wet a cotton ball with alcohol and wipe the top of the medication vial; allow it to dry.

    Draw

    Step 1

    Uncap the needle end of the syringe. Keep the needle cap -- you'll need it later.

    Draw

    Step 2

    Hold the medication vial in your left hand and the syringe in your right hand (reverse sides if you're a left-handed).

    Draw

    Step 3

    Insert the needle into the rubber port in the top of the vial.

    Draw

    Step 4

    Turn the vial upside down on your left palm between your thumb and fingers with the needle in place.

    Draw

    Step 5

    Place your right thumb under one of the flanges on the end of the syringe barrel and curl your right fingers around the colored plunger.

    Draw

    Step 6

    Push upward on the flange slowly and smoothly with your thumb while pulling the plunger back with your fingers -- it sounds tricky doing three things with two hands, but a little practice with a used syringe and an orange or lemon will give you confidence.

    Draw

    Step 7

    Keep the vial and the syringe upside down in your left hand while you check the medication in the syringe for air bubbles. If you see any, tap the syringe lightly with a finger until the bubbles rise to the base of the needle.

    Draw

    Step 8

    Press gently on the plunger until the bubbles disappear into the vial. Check the medication level in the syringe to be sure the dose is still correct. If there's not enough, pull gently on the plunger until it holds the correct amount.

    Draw

    Step 9

    Withdraw the needle from the vial, replace the needle cap and lay the loaded syringe aside.

    Shoot

    Step 1

    Get your dog into a comfortable position. This can be on a table, the sofa or the floor, just so you can reach the back of his neck with both hands. You may need someone to help you by distracting or even restraining the dog the first few times, until you and the dog are used to the procedure.

    Shoot

    Step 2

    Show the dog the capped syringe and let him smell it, so that he isn't surprised by a strange object.

    Shoot

    Step 3

    Tuck the treat into the palm of your left hand.

    Shoot

    Step 4

    Use the thumb and fingers of your left hand to pick up a fold of skin on the dog's neck or over the top of his shoulders. Roll the fold a little to your left to raise the skin until the hair parts and you can see the dog's skin.

    Shoot

    Step 5

    Take the loaded syringe in your right hand and uncap the needle by holding it with your teeth as you pull the needle out. If you're really good or practice a lot, you can flip it off with your right thumb, but this increases your chances of touching and contaminating the needle.

    Shoot

    Step 6

    Hold the barrel of the syringe between your right thumb and middle finger and insert the needle quickly into the skin at a 45 degree angle so that it goes through the skin and into the space between the skin and the muscle. If it's parallel to the dog's body it might go straight through the fold and stick you, and if it's vertical, you could go in too far and inject into the muscle. If your dog flinches or yelps, hold the skin and the syringe steady and press on -- the worst is over and you don't want to have to stick him twice.

    Shoot

    Step 7

    Use your right index finger to depress the plunger and inject the medication. If it's a large amount -- say, more than 0.5 cc -- press slowly to give the liquid time to find its own room; injecting too much too quickly can smart.

    Shoot

    Step 8

    Pull the needle out at the same angle it went in and release the skinfold.

    Shoot

    Step 9

    Move your left hand quickly under the dog's nose and open it wide to offer the treat, which should be something he really likes. This teaches him that getting an injection may hurt a little bit, but he gets a reward immediately. Add some praise and petting to reinforce this.

    Cleanup

    Step 1

    Press the base of the needle against a hard surface until the needle bends back up toward the syringe, then slide the needle cap back onto the bent needle until its point is covered. This makes it safe to throw the syringe into the trash. It also makes the syringe unusable for any purpose.

    Cleanup

    Step 2

    Return the medication vial to its package or container and store appropriately. Some meds need to be refrigerated, while others do not. Check the packaging information to be sure which you have.

    Cleanup

    Step 3

    Play ball with your dog, or just have a cuddle session. You could both use some comfort.

    Items You Will Need

    • Sterile syringe with attached needle of the size and gauge recommended by your veterinarian
    • Medication
    • Rubbing alcohol
    • Cotton ball
    • Treat
    • Helper (optional)

    Tips

    • Keep your injection equipment and supplies in a closed container to keep them handy and clean. Consider feeding your dog a meal immediately after giving an injection as reinforcement that a little discomfort gets a big reward. Split-feeding a diabetic dog can help keep his blood sugar on a more even keel.
    • If your dog's medication comes in a multiuse vial, use a different spot on the rubber injection port each time to avoid excess wear and tear on the center.

    Warning

    • Check the medication instructions or ask your vet about rubbing the injection site -- with some medications it's a good idea, but with others it's not.

    Photo Credits

    • Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Martha Adams has been a rodeo rider, zookeeper, veterinary technician and medical transcriptionist/editor. She traveled Europe, Saudi Arabia and Africa. She was a contestant on "Jeopardy" and has published articles in "Llamas" magazine and on the Internet. Adams holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin.

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