How to give your horse an intramuscular injection.
Giving an intramuscular injection to your horse can seem a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty simple with the proper training and supervised practice. And it’s something every horse owner should know how to do!
Practice Makes Perfect
If you want to learn how to give an intramuscular injection, it’s often as easy as asking your veterinarian to walk you through the procedure and asking if she will let you administer an injection under her supervision. If you are needle-phobic or haven’t handled a needle, then get one from your veterinarian or store to practice with. Oranges make good teaching models to simulate the feeling of pushing a needle through the tough skin layer into the softer muscle layer. Don’t practice on a horse until you are comfortable handling the needle and syringe. Your safety is first and foremost – accidentally poking yourself with a needle or injecting something into yourself is not only painful, but could be fatal! Also, always use caution while uncapping and recapping the needle.
Locate your Target
The primary injection site for an intramuscular injection is the neck. While other areas can also be used, the neck is the easiest/safest area. A triangle forms your injection landmarks on the neck: the vertebral column, the slope of the shoulder, and the crest of the neck. It is important to know that vertebrae run along the bottom part of the neck. Palpate these bony protrusions and make sure you can confidently identify the spine prior to any neck injection. The most dangerous place to give an intramuscular injection is into a joint or the spine.
Steps to Injecting
Once you’ve located your landmarks, check your horse’s temperature, pulse and respiratory rate (never vaccinate a sick or stressed horse). Next, use an alcohol swab to clean the area and mark your target. Remember to aim for the center of the triangle.
There are two main insertion techniques – tapping the horse’s neck with your closed fist (three or four times) and inserting the needle at the same time as the tap, or pinching the skin with one hand and slowly inserting the needle just behind the pinch. Both include inserting the needle all the way to the hub (this results in better absorption and less chance of reaction); drawing back on the plunger to see if blood comes into the needle (if it does, the needle must be pulled out and redirected because you are in a vessel rather than muscle); and injecting.
After injecting, the area should be rubbed briskly to help take away the stinging sensation.
Helpers are Helpful
Having a competent handler will make the learning process much easier. The handler should stay on the same side you are so the horse’s hindquarters never come towards you. The handler can use treats and scratches to distract the horse, while keeping him still. Keep in mind that as much as the horse may act as if the injection is terrible, it really doesn’t hurt that badly. Stay calm and con dent and make the experience as positive as possible.
Lastly, monitor the injection site for heat, swelling, stiffness or infection after all injections and always consult with your veterinarian prior to administering any vaccinations or if It is important to know that vertebrae run along the bottom part of the neck. Palpate these bony protrusions and make sure you can confidently identify the spine prior to any neck injection. The most dangerous place to give an intramuscular injection is into a joint or the spine. problems arise.
Dr. Hannah Mueller is a 2004 graduate of Oregon State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. She strives to provide the best care possible for her patients and believes her unique holistic approach allows her to do so. Dr. Hannah has a solid foundation in sports medicine and lameness. This, along with her training in acupuncture, chiropractic, stretch exercises, massage techniques and other hands on healing modalities, allows Dr. Hannah to rehabilitate horses to their fullest potential. Cedarbrookvet.com