How to Give a Cat or Dog Shot Instructions for Giving Your Pet a Shot at Home

How to Give a Cat or Dog Shot
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If you can get past the needles, it is cheaper for you, and less nerve wracking for your dog, to administer shots at home. And despite what you might think, it isn't all that hard! Here's how.

Certain chronic conditions in pets, like diabetes or allergies, need to be treated with regular injections. Injections may be necessary weekly or even daily, in which case loading everyone into the car for a trip to the vet every time might not make sense. Learning to administer shots on your own will be less stressful for both you and your pet, and less expensive for you.

Giving your pet an injection at home is easier than most people think, especially when administering subcutaneous injections. In a short time you and your pet will be perfectly comfortable with the procedure, and it will become a part of the routine like anything else. You may even end up purchasing your pet’s vaccinations by mail and giving these shots at home as well.

Step by Step Instructions for Subcutaneous Injections

Subcutaneous shots are injected below the skin.

1. Relax, and have support on hand.

The first time you give your pet a shot you may want to have someone there to help who can hold your cat or dog and keep them calm during the procedure. If you’re nervous giving the shot, having a friend or family member present may help keep you calm as well. A relaxed environment is important for everyone involved and will make things go much more smoothly. If you’re stressed, your pet will be stressed, too.

2. Prep the syringe for filling.

With a cotton ball wetted with rubbing alcohol, sterilize the top of the medicine vial. Insert a sterile, unused needle into the medication vial and turn the vial upside down.

3. Fill the syringe with the right amount of medicine.

It will be much easier to dispense the correct amount of medication if you initially use the syringe to draw out more than you need and then push the excess back into the vial. This will also help to push out any air bubbles that may collect in the syringe.

After filling the syringe, cap the needle with the needle guard. This is important to prevent you or your pet from being accidently stuck.

Check the vial to be sure no air bubbles are present in the medication.

4. Tent the injection site.

The easiest place to give your pet a shot is in the loose skin just above the shoulder blades. Gently lift and pinch the skin into an inverted V shape, what many vets call the tent of skin.

For insulin injections, other areas around the flank or belly of the animal may be a better place to administer the drug. You can ask your vet to show you how to find the right injection site.

Over time, move the injections around, if even only a few millimeters this way or that. This will prevent the injection site from becoming sore or overused.

5. The hard part.

Remove the needle guard. With one clean, quick, but careful movement, pierce the tent of skin with the needle. Push straight down until the small needle is inserted below the layer of fat. Don’t push too deeply, or you’ll hit a muscle. If you’re unsure about how deep or shallow to inject, discuss this part with your veterinarian. The layer of subcutaneous fat on every animal will differ. However, your veterinarian should be able to tell you, based on the length of the needle, how far in you’ll want to go.

Pull back on the syringe plunger very slightly. If the syringe fills with blood you have hit a vein and will have to withdraw the needle and try again. If no blood is present, move forward with the injection.

6. Inject the medication.

Push the plunger down to inject the medication, then withdraw the needle and replace the needle guard. It is likely that your cat or dog will not even feel the shot or will only notice a slight pinch.

If you and your pet are calm and ready, the whole procedure will be over in a few seconds.

Intramuscular Injections

Some medications must be injected intramuscularly, that is, into the muscle. These types of shots are more difficult to perform at home, so you should ask your vet to guide you in the proper procedure.

Home Vaccinations

Your pet’s yearly vaccinations are typically given subcutaneously and so are administered much the same way as described above. The only difference is that there is often a liquid component and a power component that will need to be mixed before the shot is given.

In most cases, you will draw the liquid into the syringe and then dispense it into the vial containing the powder. After shaking to mix the two, the shot is given as usual.

Note that the freshness of the vaccination is important and it should be administered as soon as possible after it’s received. If there is a lag between receiving the vaccine and giving your pet their shot, make sure to refrigerate the medication.

More on Giving Pets Medications

How to Give a Pet Oral Medications
How to Use Spot-On Flea Medicine

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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