How to Give Subcutaneous Injections
Fluid therapy can buy time while your ill pig is responding to antibiotics. Subcutaneous Injection of fluids helps to rehydrate your pet. Lactated ringers solution (one of several solutions that can be administered subcutaneously) is a prescription item.
Have your vet show you how to tent the skin and inject the fluid.
- Warm the lactated ringers solution before injecting it!
- Do not draw air into the line!
Follow the instructions below to ensure the subcues are performed safely. Becky describes in detail how she administers subcues to one of her pigs.
Gather your equipment and go get your guinea pig. If you have a cuddle cup, put your guinea pig in it to provide it with a sense of security.
Tips from Talishan:
"Don't try to push more than 25-35 cc's at one time. More will make her very uncomfortable. ER vets will push 60-70 mls at once in cases of severe dehydration, but that's an extreme case.
"Subcues are a balance. Some pigs become accustomed to them (resigned might be a better word). Some become more and more anxious, nervous and upset the more you do it. If your pig reacts that way, you don't want to stress her to the point of the stress hurting her more than the fluids help."
- See also: Fluid Therapy/Giving Subcutaneous Fluids by Serafina Cupido.
STEP 1: Attach butterfly set to the syringe and draw the required amount of fluid from the bag. For an average adult guinea pig, this is generally between 20 and 30cc.
Becky writes, "I don't change the needle. It doesn't dull that much with one insertion into the bag opening."
STEP 2: Warm the solution to body temperature (about 100 degrees F).
Becky writes, "Usually, I hold the syringe and the tubing under hot water. I can feel how warm it is through the syringe. "Another method is to fill the sink with warm water and let the syringe and tubing sit in the water for a minute or two. I make sure I'm holding the needle out of the water."
STEP 3: Find the right spot for the needle.
Becky writes, "I use my thumb and forefinger to find her shoulders, then bring my fingers together at the top of her shoulders. That's where I'll insert the needle."
STEP 4: Pinch the wings of the set together.
Becky writes: "The wings of the butterfly set have ridges on one side. By keeping these ridges up, the bevel of the needle will be in the right position. I grasp the wings. The ridges also give me a firm grip that won't slip."
STEP 5: Insert the needle.
Becky writes, "I pull up a triangular portion of skin (making a tent with her skin) and push the needle into the middle of the triangle or tent. It's penetrating the wall of skin and it's obvious when you go through the skin. Be aware that their skin is very leathery and tough. It takes a bit of a jab and chances are, they'll react with a little cry and a jump."
STEP 6: Inject the fluid. Be sure the syringe is angled downward to prevent air from entering the line (see photo below with bubble of air in syringe). Stopping before the plunger is completely depressed will help prevent injecting air under the skin, which can be painful.
Becky writes, "I always put the pig in a cuddle cup. I also use my free hand to rub the area right behind their eyes and in front of their ears. It seems to distract them from what's going on.
"I push in the plunger. The needle always has stayed put."
STEP 7: Pinch skin around the needle and withdraw the needle.
Becky writes, "When I get near the end, I stop before the plunger is completely depressed. This might not be necessary, but I feel like it will keep me from pushing any extra air in. I pinch the skin around the needle before removing it."
STEP 8: Apply gentle pressure to injection site.
Becky writes, "I keep a bit of pressure on the area for a few seconds to help keep the fluids in. If some of it leaks out, it's no big deal."
Talishan's advice on this thread is:
- Use a different needle to draw the fluids out of the bag than to administer to the pig. I draw with an 18g; remove it, then replace it with a 21g or 23g butterfly. Please please PLEASE DON'T attempt this with anything larger than a 21g to start with or we will hear him all the way over here.
- Butterfly sets allow the pig to move around a bit. I prefer them; others don't. Whatever works for you and what you are most comfortable with. The more comfortable and relaxed you are, the more comfortable and relaxed Noddy will be.
- The stick differs from a human stick thus: a) the skin is much thicker and tougher (it's like you're sticking a football) and so is a harder initial stick. Then, b) once the stick is over the pig forgets about it ... as opposed to a human, whose skin is thinner and softer but who will continue to hurt for a while after sticking.
- Don't push the fluids too fast. The bolus forming feels weird to them and they'll fuss while it forms less from pain than from the formation making them feel weird.
- WARM THE FLUIDS!! Guinea pig body temp is 102-103 deg F. Squirt a little on your wrist before administration, and to clear the butterfly line. If you have had children, you're shooting for about how formula would feel or a tad warmer.
- Gently massage the skin at the bottom edges of the bolus as it forms. This helps the skin to stretch and the bolus to form more comfortably. Our skin is stretchier than theirs but more sensitive.
- Reread #5.