Giving injections

My four-year-old gelding recently got into the grain bin and ate about 30 lbs of sweet feed. I immediately called the vet and took him in. During the course of treatment my vet gave him several shots and sent us home with nine ...My four-year-old gelding recently got into the grain bin and ate about 30 lbs of sweet feed. I immediately called the vet and took him in. During the course of treatment my vet gave him several shots and sent us home with nine ...

Story originally posted by: Michael Lowder, DVM, MS

Dr. Lowder:

My four-year-old gelding recently got into the grain bin and ate about 30 lbs of sweet feed. I immediately called the vet and took him in. During the course of treatment my vet gave him several shots and sent us home with nine more injections (three shots a day for three days). The first two days were fine, I alternated sides of the neck and even the rump but after that I could not get near him with a needle. The vet came out four days later for a check up and to also pull a coggins then give spring shots. She was able after 25 minutes and much fighting to get the coggins but he would not tolerate any more. She even used a twitch but was unable to give the injections. She left me the shots to try and administer. Sorry for the long story but do you have any suggestions? I tried again last night (these are IM shots) and bent the needle in his neck when he jumped. We are now both freaked out.

Thank you
Lisa

Dear Lisa,
It sounds like your horse has learned to associate needles with pain. It’s understandable. First, you need to analyze your own reaction to the horse situation. Are you acting normally during this event, or can your horse sense your apprehension? Are you using alcohol to wipe the area first? Horses can smell the alcohol and will immediately know what’s coming. Use a baby wipe. The purpose of the alcohol is not to sterilize, but rather to remove the dirt and debris, so a baby wipe will do the job.

If the horse is not violently opposed, try a few practice runs (without needle) and allow him to see that the routine is not frightening. This will help "desensitize" him. Then praise him, give him a treat, etc.

By acting out the procedure without doing the actual procedure, he will not know when the "real thing" actually will occur. Do you slap the area first? This desensitizes the area to the prick of the needle. Slap the area in your practice times too. Another trick is to pinch an area of skin with one hand close to the injection site.

The horse will focus on that as you inject the medication – you must be able to inject and push the plunger with the other hand, however. Hope this helps.

Thank you,
Dr. Lowder