by Linda Benson
I just got done giving Mr. Chocolate and Mr. Big, my two donkey geldings, their yearly vaccinations. They were angels, both of them, but I always breathe a sigh of relief when this job is done. Even though I've been giving shots to horses, donkeys, cats, and dogs for something like half a century (yes, I'm that old LOL) I still have to psych myself up for the job - every. single. time.
Do you do that, also? Gah! I have a secret fear of needles. In fact, I've almost passed out (well, I have actually passed out) when on the receiving end of shots. But because I've owned lots of animals through the years, and in the interest of saving money and using a vet only when I really need them, I've become used to buying vaccines for dogs, cats, and horses at the feed store, bringing them straight home packed with ice, and doing it myself.
For years I followed a procedure that I'd read about somewhere. Take the needle off, go hit, hit, hit, with the edge of your hand on his neck, and on the final bounce actually stab the horse with the needle. Then, fish the syringe filled with vaccine out of your pocket (or your mouth where you've held it gingerly.) Reattach the syringe to said needle, pull out to make sure you have a muscle and not some artery (or, God forbid, a vein) and then push the syringe in, inserting all of the vaccine in the muscle, while your sweet horse stands perfectly still and does not bat an eye. This is the procedure if all goes right. If Old Blue throws a conniption fit at the stab or the attachment of said syringe, well, good luck. Either run to the feed store, purchase another vaccine and try to whisper Old Blue into the fact that it Really. Won't. Hurt. this time, or give up and call the vet.
After years of varying success with this method (and watching certain vets nonchalantly walk up and "press" the needle in, while the horse barely seems to notice) I finally perfected my method of vaccinating my horses and donkeys. This works well for me, since I usually have to do this all by myself, with No Helpers. First, cut up an apple or two into Lots of small chunks (carrots work well also.) Then (preferably still in the house) prepare your vaccines (which means taking them out of the crinkly plastic wrapper - horses have very good hearing) withdrawing fluid from bottle if needed, and reattaching syringe to needle.) Then (with vaccine hidden in your pocket) walk to the barn humming a happy song. Halter your animal, proceed to feed 1/3 of the apples to him while whispering sweet nothings and brushing his neck.
To desensitize the skin where the shot is going to go, reach over and poke Ol' Blue on the opposite side of the neck with your finger, one-two-three times. Then do the same on the near side of the neck. Feed him another apple or two, do this twice more and realize you are stalling. It's now or never. Feed him an apple, pull the entire syringe/needle combo out of your pocket, take the cap off, and make sure you Do Not Show the needle to Ol' Blue. Then PRESS (not poke or jab) the needle/with syringe still attached, slowly into their skin, all the while humming an old Disney tune, or rock 'n roll, or whatever makes you happiest. Did they move? No, they probably didn't even feel it, until you pull it back a little to check for blood, sing a little louder, and then push the vaccine all the way in. At this point, they've either stood there like good soldiers, or they begin to think something might be amiss. Whereupon you pull the entire needle and syringe out (success) mumble thanks to your creator, put the cap back on the needle, feed the horse/donkey ALL the remaining apples, murmur Good Boy, Good Ol' Blue and give him a BIG HUG. Now go in the house, pour yourself a glass of wine, and realize it's all over until next year.
Disclaimer: I am not a vet and am not giving out veterinary advice. I'm only sharing the method that has worked for me, over the years, by myself. Now, if we are talking twice daily shots of penicillin with huge gauge needles, then all bets are off. You're on your own, darling. I have already fainted, switched to oral antibiotics, or gave up.
So tell me, is giving shots your favorite thing? Do you have a good method to recommend? Any horror stories you'd care to share?
Just reading about this gives me the willy wobbles. I've never given anyone or anything (not even a practice orange) an injection. That said, I've been sewing and quilting for many years and have skewered myself with a variety of needles, including a sewing machine needle to which I was painfully and irrevocably attached, till I had the presence of mind to reverse the machine.
Now I'm going to be squeamish all day! I need to leave it to the vet, I'm definitely needle-phobic, even for myself. But my vet just walks right up, horse stands there and is a good boy. I've had issues with vaccine reactions, so have to just do the minimal amount. One thing about doing it yourself is you can really space out the shots. Good job on doing it yourself! Have you had one react badly? From your description they're pretty nonchalant, though I'm sure if the person is nervous the horse would feed on that.
Pfff! I can't even give my horse worming medicine without help, so wouldn't even attempt sticking him with a needle! Good on you for being brave enough to do it.
I heard one horror story a few years ago about someone just about to give a horse some sort of injection to counter-act the poisonous/toxic effect of a caterpillar sting on his nose. The poor horse could barely breathe because his nostrils were so swollen, so the owner of the stables went to give him a shot...but hadn't read the instructions...and would have literally have killed the horse if the stablehand hadn't jumped in and grabbed the needle off her. He gave the horse the right dosage and the horse was fine... But it was a scary moment.
Maggie - see what I mean? Needles are dangerous! Ouch! (Which is probably why I don't sew.)
Irish Horse- yes, the trick is to calm your nerves and be nonchalant yourself, so your horse doesn't pick up your feelings.
Francesca - yes, scary. I have known lots of people that doctor their horses themselves, but I don't feel comfortable with anything except a once-a-year vaccine. I have given horses and donkeys shots of penicillin with those huge needles, and that is an outright horrible experience. Your animal ends up hating you and tries to hide when they see you coming. (That probably hurt me as much as it hurt them.)
I do a lot of my own shots, and no, it's not my favorite thing to do. I am lucky that I'm not squeamish around needles, and that all my boys are very good for shots. It was especially handy to be able to do my own Adequan injections - otherwise, I would have had to pay for a farm call every 4 days during the loading dose. Yikes!
I think that being able to give an injection is a good skill to have if you're a horse owner. I remember a friend's horse colicking, and the vet advising to give injectible Banamine, only there was nobody there who could do it except me. I talked to the vet, gave the exact dosage in the exact location recommended, and the horse was fine. Whew!
I definitely think you need to know what you are doing and be very, VERY careful (preferably under the supervision of a vet) but still, I'm glad it's something I have the skills (and stomach) to do.
jenj - yes, I agree. Giving shots is often a great skill to have, especially in an emergency situation, when you have the knowledge and the tools and someone to walk you through it.
Although I wrote this post in a tongue-in-cheek manner, it is true that it took me many years to learn how to "push" the needle in, instead of poking it, and that has always worked better for me, at least for smaller gauge needles.
Dogs are generally a piece-of-cake to vaccinate, because it's just under the skin. Same with cats. But even though I've given lots of vaccinations to my own cats, the two rascals I have now are such bad actors that I finally gave up and now take them to the vet! ;-)
i used to enjoy giving shots but now i live in germany, where it is not allowed. a vet must do it. this irritates me to no end!
How interesting, lytha! Wow, I learn something everyday. Did you know that in Oregon you can't pump your own gas? Laws are different everywhere I guess, but in Germany, this must make owning horses even more expensive. Is that true for dogs and cats and other animals, too?
So totally hear you about the shot anxiety - not the horses, me! I'm always hugely relieved when the process is over for another year and none of them have had a shot reaction!
I know, Sunny SD. It's because we care about our critters so much. And it's always such a relief when you have no problems, there's no lump, and yay, you did it. (Which is almost always the case, espcially if you have a good rapport with your horse/donkey.)
We had a horror story with a young vet who came out to geld a young donkey for us. He actually walked right up to him, showing him the huge needle! That little guy got on the fight before the young doc even got his hands on him, and after that, we could barely get him sedated. He was fighting in his sleep. Not pretty. Some things you learn the hard way. (Needless to say, we changed vets, and now have a wonderful one, who talks to the animals first.)
This post really touched a nerve (bad pun intended) on so many of us. I hate doing anything that makes the horses miserable and am wimpy enough to avoid it. For example--fly medicine. Relish thinks a spray bottle has come from hell to get him. So do I desensitize and work with him? Nope. Lots of alternatives! And I make my husband do that dang worming thing and the vet do those shots. . .
Post a Comment