There are primarily two methods of giving injections. Commonly called giving shots, injections are given either into the muscle of the animal (IM) or under the skin sub-cutaneously (SQ). The type of medication being given will bear directions stating which of these two methods to use when administering it.
Into-the-muscle injections for goats should be given into the large thigh muscle. Aim the needle from the side, not from the rear, to avoid hitting the sciatic nerve. Hitting this nerve with a needle can result in leg paralysis. Alternate sites for IM injections can be at the neck and the flank, but I don’t recommend using these sites for shots, it is too easy to hit major blood vessels.
When giving injections of thick medications or vaccinations, rub the area before injecting the needle and do the same after completing the shot. This should help mitigate the uncomfortable stinging or burning effect that the rush of medication into the muscle causes.
Sub-cutaneous injections are normally given under the skin at the shoulder area by lifting the loose skin and sliding the needle under the skin, taking care not to hit the muscle. However, small kids often have very little loose skin, making SQ shoulder injections difficult, so an alternate site is the armpit area behind the front legs. Massage the site after giving the shot, this will reduce the possibility of a lump forming at the injection site and also will help with the sting.
Before giving shots, make sure that you have on hand a bottle of epinephrine. Occasionally goats go into shock when given injections. Always keep a bottle of epinephrine with you when you are giving injections. Watch the expiration date on the bottle. The dosage is 1cc per 100 pounds of body weight, given sub-cutaneously (SQ). The need for using this product is a very rare occurrence, but there is no time to go get it when it is needed. Seconds, not minutes, count, when a goat goes into shock.
Purchase two different types of syringes. The type of syringe into which the needle twists (Luer-lock) works best with thick medications. Luer-slip syringes (the needle slips onto the syringe) are great for oral drenching and all other types of injectable medications.
Use 3 cc syringes for most medications, but buy several other sizes as well. One cc (1 cc) syringes are needed for medicating kids. Buy five or six 12 cc syringes and 6 cc syringes for oral drenching of electrolytes. Obtain a 60 cc syringe attached to a weak kid feeding tube for use in tube feeding sick kids. Buy two or three 60 cc syringes with needle-tips (smaller opening) for use in sub-cutaneous rehydrating of ill babies. The point here is that the 60 cc syringe to which the weak kid tube is attached has a wider opening for the tube attachment and is not usable with needles, so two kinds of 60 cc syringes should be kept on hand.
Buy good-quality sharp needles. For injections, use 22-gauge needles that are 3/4″ long. Purchase five or six 18-gauge needles for drawing thick medications from their bottles.
Needles and syringes are inexpensive and can be purchased through your veterinarian. Follow these simple suggestions and giving injections will be much more pleasant, both for you and for your goats.