Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky
Giving an injection for the first time can be a little nerve-racking, but with practice it gets easier. Horses feel far less pain then humans do from shots. Most vaccines are given intramuscularly (IM) in the neck or hip. Injections can also be given subcutaneously (SQ) or intravenously (IV). Subcutaneous injections are given under the skin but not in the muscle. Intravenous injections are given directly into a vein.
In preparation to administer an injection, do the following:
Most vaccines may be given IM in the neck of the horse. For this procedure, remove the needle from the syringe, making sure to hold it by the plastic end. Hold the needle between your thumb and index finger. Use the heel of your hand to pat the horse's neck a couple of times, and on the third pat insert the needle in the neck. Attach the syringe to the needle, pull back slightly on the syringe plunger to make sure that in the needle is not in a blood vessel (if it is, blood will enter the syringe as you pull back the plunger), then administer the vaccine. When the needle is removed, rub the injection site slightly and then observe for any bleeding. If any bleeding occurs, apply pressure until the bleeding stops.
SQ injections are given just beneath the skin. Simply lift the skin on the neck, insert the needle, pull back slightly on the syringe plunger to be sure the needle is not in a blood vessel (if it is, blood will enter the syringe as you pull back the plunger), and then administer the vaccine.
With any vaccine or injectable medication, always use a separate sterile needle and syringe for each injection. Safely dispose of all used syringes and needles.