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Medical Index
First Posted: Feb 13, 2008
May 8, 2012

How To Give An Intramuscular (IM) Injection/Shot

Giving An Intramuscular Injection

Giving An Intramuscular Injection
There is no reason to be intimidated by the thought of giving your horse an intramuscular injection. In fact, it is really important to know how to do just that. For example, your horse is colicing, you have called the vet, it will be an hour before the vet can come, your horse is in great distress and kicking at his flanks, he is threatening to lie down. If you had banimine, needles and syringes in your meds chest (and the knowledge of how to give a shot) you could give your horse 10 cc of banimine to relieve his distress until the vet arrives. That is, of course, with the approval of your vet.

So, how do you give a shot? The veterinary practice I currently use is Haymarket Veterinary Service. In a mailing of "Haymarket Hoofbeats," Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2008, described exactly how to give an IM injection along with trouble shooting information associated with injections.

  • Make sure the medication has been handled properly (refrigerated, shaken, etc. as directed)
  • Make sure the horse's skin is clean and dry (Alcohol and water on the skin may make it easier to push bacteria into the skin causing infection or abscess)
  • Have someone hold the horse for you.
  • Pinch the skin adjacent to the injection site or rub or tap the injection site so that the shot is not a complete surprise to the horse.
  • *Insert the needle straight into the muscle imbedding it up to the hub, pull the plunger back slightly to make sure no blood is obtained and administer the medication/vaccine.

*When I give my horses their shots I always insert the needle, by itself, and then attach the syringe. That way, if my horses act up the needle will be in place. I can calm them and then continue giving the shot.

The best spot for an owner to administer IM medication or vaccines is in the horse's neck.

Where To Administer A Shot In The Neck

  • Use the flat triangle of muscle which is bordered by the crest, shoulder and the horse's spine.

If you are having trouble giving the injection in the neck there are several other injection sites: the pectoral muscles, the buddocks region and the top of the rump. Call your vet for instructions on how to do this.

  • If blood is obtained either inject in a sightly different location or pull the needle back out to the skin edge and redirect it adjacent to the original site.
  • Rotate injection sites if the horse is getting frequent injections.
  • Monitor the sites for swelling or pain, and the horse for lameness or reluctance to move his head and neck appropriately.
  • Abscess formation is an occasional complication and serious, life threatening injections can occur rarely.
  • Muscle soreness, in particular neck soreness, is fairly common and is related to drug irritation and associated inflammation, the volume administered and site of administration.

For More Information:

How to Give Your Horse an Intramuscular Injection

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