How to Do Puppy Vaccinations and Give Your Puppies Shots
You Can Give Your Puppy Shots If You Follow Proper Technique
Giving your puppy vaccinations or shots is not for the faint of heart. While it can save you lots of money and trips to the vet, you must be committed to learning proper technique. You must also have a firm grasp on how to reconstitute (mix) a vaccine, where to administer the shots on the body, and what signs indicate a dangerous vaccine reaction.
Why I Chose to Vaccinate My Puppies Myself
I became the mother of two new chihuahua puppies and my son got a third brother from the same litter shortly after. When we went to get them their first puppy shots, we were shocked at the cost and decided to research alternatives—we simply couldn't afford it.
A friend of ours from church had told us that some people give their dogs shots themselves. I was aghast at first about the thought of even touching one of my puppies with a needle (I'm one of those needle-phobic people), but my husband thought this was a good idea, so we decided to research proper vaccine protocols.
The Rabies Vaccine
Check your state's laws. In most states, the rabies vaccine can only be administered by a veterinarian or veterinary medical professional. It is otherwise not legally recognized.
Vaccine Handling and Protocols
Before you prepare to administer the vaccines, abide by the following:
- Always verify that the vaccines that you have purchased have been properly refrigerated. Vaccines that have not been refrigerated properly will not work.
- Always verify what type of vaccines you are administering, where they are to be administered, how they are to be administered, and how often. Vaccination guidelines can be found on the American Animal Hospital Association website.
- Always check the expiration date on the vaccines you are going to administer and make sure they have not expired.
- Familiarize yourself with what indicates a vaccine reaction in a dog and be prepared to act accordingly.
- Save your vaccine sticker (off of the vial) in the event of a vaccine reaction and for your own documentation.
Incorrect handling, storage, or administration of a vaccine will result in vaccine failure.
Buying Your Own Puppy Shot Packs
I suppose for a nurse or medical professional, the thought of giving your puppy a shot might not be a big deal, but for me, I was a nervous wreck. Knowing that this would save us about $300 though, I decided it was definitely worth looking into.
I decided to do some research on the Internet and talked to the local feed store owner who sold "puppy shot packages" in his store. (You can also purchase puppy shot packs on the internet.) What I found out was that there are quite a few people who routinely do this and have no problems giving their puppies vaccinations. Our friend from church was one of them. Our friend explained that his family had always given their family dogs shots the entire time he was growing up and that it was a natural thing for them.
Still not quite convinced, I sat on the fence about doing anything for a good week or two. Finally, I got up the nerve to go purchase the puppy vaccines and offered to be my husband's assistant while he gave them their shots. I still wasn't thrilled about being involved in this but figured it was better for me to hold them and help him than some stranger.
How to Give a Subcutaneous Injection
Directions on Giving Your Puppies a Shot
The first thing you need to know is where to give the shot. There are different routes of administration when it comes to injections in general:
- subcutaneous (under the skin)
- intramuscular (into the muscle)
- intranasal (into the nose)
- intravenous (into the vein)
What Vaccines Does My Puppy Need?
- DHPP (also termed DA2PPV, DHPP, DA2PP, or DHPPV)
- rabies (must be administered by veterinary professionals)
Be sure to watch where to properly administer a vaccine and how (in the video). Incorrect administration may require emergency intervention.
A Note About Bordetella
If you are administering the non-core bordetella vaccine, verify whether or not the vaccine is to be given subcutaneously or intranasally. Administering this via the incorrect route requires immediate veterinary intervention.
How to Reconstitute a Vaccine
Directions for Administering a Vaccination to Your Puppy
- Draw up the liquid diluent from the vial into a syringe.
- Insert the syringe into the vial containing the powder.
- Allow the syringe's plunger to depress and gently assist the full transfer of diluent into the powder-containing vial.
- Remove the syringe.
- Gentle rock or roll the vial to mix the powder and diluent until all the powder is dissolved (make sure it is mixed thoroughly). DO NOT SHAKE!
- Draw up the mixed liquid using the syringe.
- If available, put a new 22 GA needle on your 3 mL syringe (each time a needle punctures a surface, it dulls the edge and can create pain upon injection).
Correct Dog Restraint
Restraint and Injection
- Place the puppy on a flat surface and hold the puppy in a gentle restraint (please use an assistant).
- Locate the correct injection site for the vaccine you are administering.
- Pull the puppy's skin up using your fingers and create a skin "tent."
- Push the needle gently into the center of the tented triangle.
- Pull the plunger of the syringe back slightly. Make sure that no blood enters the syringe. If there is blood, you have inserted the needle into a vein (DO NOT INJECT INTO THE VEIN). If this happens, remove the syringe, replace the needle, and try again.
- If there is no flash of blood, push the plunger of the syringe to inject the vaccine.
- Remove the syringe and cap the needle; be sure to dispose of it properly by putting the needle in a "sharps" container as it is considered hazardous waste.
- Praise and pet your puppy.
- Watch your puppy for at least 15 minutes for a vaccine reaction.
- Using alcohol to "sanitize" an injection site on a dog is often ineffective. Sanitization requires contact time on direct skin. Leftover alcohol can cause stinging at the injection site.
- Vaccines should not be vigorously shaken. Instead, gently roll or rock them until completely dissolved.
- Rubbing the site of the injection after the vaccine is given not necessary.
Watch for a Vaccine Reaction
If your puppy or dog exhibits any signs or symptoms of distress such as difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, facial swelling, or collapse, go to your nearest veterinary hospital immediately.
What Is a Vaccine Reaction?
Our Puppies Did Well With Their Shots
I will not pretend that vaccinating our puppies was an easy or simple thing for me to do. I am used to taking all of my animals to a vet, but now that we have so many animals, I realize that this is the most cost-saving way to make sure that all of our animals get their proper shots (we have four dogs and four cats now).
Our puppies actually did pretty well with the vaccinations. Of course, it was a little uncomfortable for them, but they forgave us fast, and within minutes they were off playing again. One word of caution: Do make sure you keep an eye on your puppy after their shots to make sure they don't have a vaccine reaction.
Giving your puppies their first vaccinations and giving your puppies shots gets easier each time you do it, and you will gain confidence each time you do it. We now have our friends and family bring their puppies over for their first shots, and puppy vaccinations are something we now do together as a family. As for the first time, I think I was more of a wreck than the puppies were!
- Administering Vaccines - Canine
Becky Smith CVT, VTS (Clinical Practice) demonstrates the proper location of canine vaccines and administers vaccines to a puppy.
- Bordetella and Mistaken Injections | ASPCApro
Brush up on treatment options when a Bordetella vaccine is accidentally injected rather than the correct intranasal administration.
- AAHA Canine Guidelines: Rabies Vaccination by State
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2009 Dorsi Diaz