Sunday, March 22, 2015

Learn How to Give Your Goat a Shot

As some of you may know, Bell our goat FINALLY had a baby. She is beyond adorable but things have not always gone smoothly. Bell seemed to be doing well with nursing when she first had the baby but now she doesn't seem to want to stand for her to nurse for very long. This is a problem for sure but not one that can't be overcome. The other more serious issue was the fact that our latest addition was not up running around like she should. She was diagnosed with an infection in her joints so we have been giving her antibiotic injections for the last few days. 

If you are afraid of needles then you may not want to read this post but if you plan on having livestock, it may be a fear that you have to overcome. Drawing up and administering an injection really isn't difficult. The hardest part is getting past the cringe factor of poking a living thing with a sharp pointy object. 

First you must gather all of your supplies. The vet left us two pre-filled syringes of one antibiotic. Once those are done then we are to give her Penicillin for 7 days. She only left us one needle and syringe for the Penicillin but I didn't want to use the same needle over again so I picked some up at the Tractor Supply store. You can buy needles in packs of six for just a couple of dollars. The 3 ml syringes were $0.29 each.              
When you first open a bottle of medication like this, it will be covered in a thin metal cover. This simply peels off and exposes the rubber stopper underneath which is what your needle will go through. 
You can see the rubber stopper underneath.
The first time you draw up your injection you don't have to clean the stopper with alcohol. Ideally you will want to clean the top of the bottle each time with alcohol before drawing up the next dose. Next, take your syringe and pull the syringe back until you have the same amount of air to equal the same amount of medicine you need to draw up.

In our case we have to give 2 ml of Penicillin every day. Now, stick the needle through the rubber stopper and push in the air. The air will take the place of the liquid that you are about to draw out. The reason for this is prevent a vacuum from forming in the bottle over time as you draw out each dose. You don't have to do this step but is just makes it easier as you repeatedly draw medicine out of the bottle.

Now pull back on the plunger until you have the correct amount of medication in your syringe. You will always have a few air bubbles that come back into your syringe but it's not anything to worry about because you will be giving the injection into the muscle or into the subcutaneous tissue. If you want to get the air bubbles out simply pull back on the plunger once you have removed the needle from the bottle to increase the amount of air in the syringe. Slowly push the syringe forward to push the air out until you have a little medicine coming out of the needle. Recap the needle and you're ready to go!
Draw up the medication to the correct level. 

The Penicillin is given in the muscle otherwise known as an IM injection. IM just stands for intramuscular. Check with your vet to see where the best place is to give the injection for your particular livestock. Our vet said we could give the injections in her neck or butt. I was concerned about hitting the sciatic nerve however, since I'm not overly familar with goat anatomy so I have been giving them on her inner leg.

When you give the injection go in quick and at a 90 degree angle. If this is an adult animal you should be able to put the needle all the way in to the hub. If it's a smaller animal you may not be able to put the needle in all the way due to it being a smaller muscle mass. This particular needle is a 20 Gauge 1 inch needle. You will have to use your own judgement as to weather or not there is enough muscle to take the full length of the needle.

Pull back slightly on the plunger to make sure there is no blood that comes back into the syringe. If it looks ok, push the medicine in quickly and pull out the needle. Gently massage the site and you're done!

Even though these needles are being used on animals, I would still dispose of them just like I would a sharps that has been used on a person. Any plastic container will work. Take an empty soda or water bottler to dispose of your needles. When you no longer need it, you can take the bottle to your local ER or doctors office and they should be able to dispose of it for you. You might also check with your vet to see if you could bring it back to them for disposal. If you would just like to practice giving an injection go buy a syringe and needle and grab an orange. This is a great way to practice your injection technique and get more comfortable with it if you have never done anything like this before.

Giving an injection isn't hard but it can be scary if you've never done something like this before. Unfortunately this is sometimes a needed part of animal husbandry and an area that you may have to jump out of your comfort zone to learn.

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