Injecting medications for sheep

Note: The following information is intended to give a brief overview of different injection methods. If you are uncertain how to proceed, contact your veterinarian.

Subcutaneous Injections (SC)
(under the skin)

How to administer

  • follow instructions above for preparing the dose
  • SC injections are given by lifting up (tenting) the skin under front legs or on the neck and insert needle underneath the skin (into the ‘tent’)
  • insert the needle at an angle, rather than straight across (may go through the other side of the skin fold) or straight down (may hit the muscle)

When to use

  • if both IM and SC are listed on the label, always use SC
  • many vaccines can be given this way

Tips and precautions

  • using a large gauge needle will prevent loss of medication after injection (hole is smaller)
  • particularly with large doses there may be a lump at injection site, this not a generally problem and will disperse.
  • on occasion, an abscess may form at site

Injecting lambs

Intramuscular Injections

(IM) (into the muscle)

How to administer

  • when giving IM injections always inject into the neck muscles (avoid neck bones and shoulder blades). Do not inject into the hindquarters as this may result in having high priced cuts of meat condemned due to injection scars or abscesses
  • pull plunger of syringe back after inserting needle to make sure that the needle did not penetrate a blood vessel. Injecting many medications directly into the blood stream, can cause sudden death

When to use

  • only use this method if no alternative is listed on the label

Tips and precautions

  • avoid drugs that are extremely irritating to muscles

Intravenous Injections (IV)
(into a vein)

How to administer

  • before attempting this method have someone familiar with the technique show you what to do
  • most often given in the jugular vein in the neck (in the groove of neck)
  • if you are right handed, use your left hand to ‘bridge’ vein (place light pressure across the vein to cause a slowing of the blood flow
  • vein should bulge above your hand (direction of the animal’s head)
  • with a finger of your right hand, feel for the exact location of the vein (feels spongy and springy)
  • once you’ve located the vein, insert the needle (no syringe) at a shallow angle (see tips and precautions)
  • the needle should go in with little resistance and blood should flow readily from the open end of the needle
  • carefully attach the syringe and give the dose slowly to avoid shock

When to use

  • used in emergency situations (pregnancy toxemia, polio, etc.) when medication administered by other methods will not be absorbed quickly enough to save the animal

Diagram of different injection sites

Tips and precautions

  • IV delivers medication to the animal’s system very quickly; this is good as it can save animals, but the results of incorrect dosing are also more immediate – be sure you have the correct dose and medication
  • it is suggested to attach the syringe after the needle is in the vein to help prevent accidentally inserting the dose into a major artery near the jugular. As arterial blood flows to the cells (including the brain), medication in the artery will generally kill an animal. By injecting the needle without the syringe attached you can assess the blood flow (arterial blood is bright red and will pulse strongly out of the needle; venous blood is darker in colour and tends to flow out of the needle at a steady rate). If in doubt, do not give the dose.

Udder Infusion

How to administer

  • read label instructions
  • wash udder and teat and disinfect end of teat with alcohol
  • insert tip of tube or syringe into teat opening and deliver dose
  • massage udder after injection

When to use

  • localized treatment of mastitis

Tips and precautions

  • if you are using cattle preparations, be sure you use a small size needle to avoid injuring the ewe’s teat

Intraperitoneally
(IP) (Abdominal)

When to use

  • administration of glucose to lambs

Tips and precautions

  • do not attempt this method unless you have received instruction; adhesions, infections, and intestinal obstructions can occur