Safely giving injections to animals | Living the Country Life

Safely giving injections to animals

Before you jab them with the needle, make sure you know exactly what you’re doing
Image courtesy of North Dakota State University

When I was a kid, I always winced when the veterinarian gave our 4-H calves their shots, but they didn’t even flinch. Cattle are much braver than I am.

Some livestock producers do the injecting, rather than hiring a veterinarian. Steve Tonn is an extension educator at the University of Nebraska. He says this can save money and time as long as you understand exactly what you’re doing. Follow the label instructions, and choose the right needle size. This will depend on the medication and method of delivery.

"How you’re delivering that product is very important whether it’s under the skin or in the muscle," says Tonn. "And also, some products are going to be thicker or thinner than others, so that may also influence the size of the needle that you’re going to use. Being able to administer that drug or that medication properly is going to make sure that you’re doing it in the best way for the animal, and also the best way to get the proper response from that product."

Tonn says to use the smallest recommended needle size in diameter to minimize tissue damage. The needle length also needs to be correct. Shorter needles can be used under the skin, longer ones for intramuscular injections.  

Also be sure you’re injecting the animals in the right spot.

"In our meat or milk-type animals, the preferred site is in the neck, in front of the shoulder. And that applies to pigs, sheep, cattle, and goats too," says Tonn. "If you’re giving an injection to a horse, then you probably want to consult your veterinarian because they’re probably more going to be intramuscular injections, and so you want to use a muscle mass that’s used a lot, but your veterinarian may have a preference on which muscle mass to use."

Make sure the animal is properly restrained and kept as still as possible to prevent broken needles, and any harm to you or the animal.

Learn more about injection site management

Giving injections to a horse is a whole different animal

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