Good Production Practice # 3
Injection Site Management
For many medicines and vaccines, injection is the only method of administration. Although the purpose of an injection is to benefit your animal, each injection has the potential to do harm. The harm may be pain or suffering; however, the injection could also create residues, scar tissue, or abscesses. The following are methods of giving vaccines and injection treatments to prevent problems at injection sites and to maximize the benefits of your treatments.
Buy good-quality, sharp needles; Monoject is one of the best brands. For injections, use 20-gauge needles that are 3/4" long. Purchase five or six 18-gauge needles for drawing thick medications from their bottles (e.g., Ivomec 1% cattle de-wormer, Nuflor, Tylan 200, LA-200). Then, remove the 18-gauge needle and inject the medication with the smaller 22-gauge needle. Note: Eighteen-gauge needles are cattle-sized; never use them on goats.
- Use a new, sterile, disposable needle for each animal.
- If using the same needle for multiple injections, change the needle frequently (e.g., every ten animals), and sterilize it between animals.
- Choose the smallest needle size for the product to minimize tissue damage and to reduce breakage at the injection site. Use 16- or 18-gauge needles for most products that can be injected.
- Choose the correct length needle (e.g., 1 inch for IM and 1 inch or less for SQ in goats).
Improper animal restraint is the cause of most bent needles. While very rare, you and your veterinarian must determine how animals will be handled should a needle break in the neck muscle. A broken needle is an emergency, and time will be of the essence. A broken needle migrates in tissue. If the situation is not immediately handled, the needle will be impossible to find, requiring the animal to be destroyed. Under no circumstances should animals with broken needles be sold or sent to slaughter.
There are two primary methods for giving injections. Commonly called giving shots, injections are given either into the muscle of the animal (IM) or under the skin subcutaneously (SQ). Follow instructions. Make sure you read the label and follow all labeling information before administering any animal health product.
Intramuscular (IM) Injection
Avoid IM injections whenever other labeled routes of administration are available. Medication will bear directions stating which of these two methods to use for administration. Into-the-muscle injections for goats should NOT be given into the large thigh muscle. Sites for IM injections can be at the neck and the flank, but it is not recommended to use these sites for shots as it is too easy to hit major blood vessels.
Subcutaneous (SubQ) Injection
Subcutaneous injections are normally given under the skin at the shoulder area by lifting the loose skin and sliding the needle under the skin, taking care not to hit the muscle. Watch a veterinarian give your dog a rabies shot, and you will know how to do this. However, small kids often have very little loose skin, making SubQ shoulder injections difficult. An alternate site is the armpit area behind the front legs. Massage the site after giving the shot; this will reduce the possibility of a lump forming at the injection site and will help with the sting.
Before giving shots, make sure you have on hand a bottle of epinephrine. Occasionally, goats go into shock when given injections. This product is very inexpensive and can be obtained from a mail-order house such as Jeffers, Caprine Supply, Hoeggers, or Valley Vet (or from your veterinarian). Always keep a bottle of epinephrine with you when giving injections. Watch the expiration date on the bottle. The dosage is 1cc per 100 pounds of body weight, given subcutaneously. The need for this product is rare, but there would be no time to purchase it if needed. Seconds, not minutes, count when a goat goes into shock.
Products labeled for SubQ administration should be administered in the neck region (ahead of the shoulders). All products labeled for IM use should be given in the neck region only (no exceptions, regardless of age). All products cause tissue damage when injected IM. Therefore, all IM use should be avoided if possible. Products cleared for SubQ, IV, or oral administration are recommended. Products with low dosage rates are recommended, and proper spacing should be followed.
No more than 10 cc of a product is administered per IM injection site.