How to Give Intramuscular Injections

September 2, 2014

Do you know how to give your horse intramuscular (IM) injections? It's a great skill to have at your disposal that just about anyone can learn. (I always recommend that a trained professional administer IV injections.) I've done many injections as both a vet tech & a Paramedic. I'm going to share my tips!

Needle size.... The higher the number the smaller the gauge of the needle. A 14 or 16 gauge is considered large bore. Typically an 18 or 20 gauge will do the trick. A 22 gauge can sometimes bend & can be tougher to push medications through. I prefer to use 1 1/2" length; however, 1 inch also works.

mL & cc are interchangeable measurements

Most medications will be calculated by weight in kg. To determine kilograms, divide pounds by 2.2. Your answer is kilograms.

Always consult your veterinarian if you are unsure of technique, medication, dose, etc.... Most veterinarians are happy to help you!


A few rules....
-always use a brand new sterile needle & syringe
-never recap your needle... This is when most needle sticks occur
- always check.... Right medication.... Right dosage... Right horse.... Right route (IM or IV) and expiration date
- always store medication as stated on label
-always have a handler.... They will stand on same side as injector. If you do not have a handler, do not tie your horse while injecting

There are a few different sites you can use. I prefer to use the base of the neck. If giving daily injections, I alternate sides daily. You want to inject into a large muscle group that is frequently used to promote absorption.

How to give injection
- remove needle from syringe
-quickly insert the needle in a stabbing motion at a 90 degree angle from the skin... It might seem mean, but a fast stab is less painful to the patient
-aspirate (pull back the plunger to check for blood) before injecting medication.... If you see blood, remove the needle & redirect your injection
-slowly administer medication
-properly dispose of needle & syringe

 

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