Types of Injections

There are two type of injections that we commonly use when giving medications to llamas and alpacas: 

Subcutaneous (Sub-Q) is used to deliver a medication into the fat layer between the skin and the muscle.  Subcutaneous injections are used to give small amounts and certain kinds of medicine.  Check the medication to see if instructions are for administering it Sub-Q or IM. 

Intramuscular (IM) is used to deliver a medication deep into the muscles.  This allows the medication to be absorbed into the bloodstream quickly.  IM injections are absorbed faster than Sub-Q injections because muscle tissue has a greater blood supply than the tissue just under the skin.  Muscle tissue can also hold a larger volume of medication than subcutaneous tissue. 

Always check your medication for recommendations on the type of injection to use.

The syringe used to give injections contains three parts:  the needle, the barrel, and the plunger.  The needle goes into the skin, the barrel holds the medicine and has markings on it to measure in mililiters (mL), and the plunger is used to get the medicine into and out of the syringe.

Many doses are measured by cc.  Note:  1 mL (mililiter) is the same as 1 cc (cubic centimeter)


This diagram is from SmithCo Goat & Sheep Equipment

Injection Sites


IM - Sites for Intramuscular Injections
SQ - Sites for Subcutaneous Injections
* - Sciatic Nerve

IM - Injection sites

Hand position to locate IM site on the shoulder.


How To Give A Subquetaneous Injection

1.  These injection go in the layer between the skin and the muscle.

2.  Use a 22 to 16 gauge needle 1" to 1.5" long.

3.  The needle should be directed through the skin at a slight angle.  With practice, you can feel when you have gone through the skin.  This is where you inject the drug.  If you penetrate any deeper, you will be in the muscle.

4.  Grab the hair near the site of the injection with your left hand and pull the skin up into a tent.  Insert the needle into the tented skin.  This makes it very easy to feel when you've passed through the entire thickness of the skin.

5.  If there is a lot of resistance when pushing the plunger, you are probably still in the skin and not below it.


How To Give An Intramuscular Injection

1.  Any large muscle mass will work.  Normally the shoulder or rump is selected.

2.  Use 22 to 16 gauge needle.  The thicker the drug, the larger the needle (smaller gauge is larger).  Use 1.5" length needles.  Many people use the green 18 gauge needles for almost everything.

3.  Avoid the area of the sciatic nerve and neck region.  See diagram for location of the sciatic nerve.

4.  The needle should be inserted all the way in to make sure you are in the muscle.

5.  If frequent injections are needed, rotate the muscles used to avoid soreness or ask if it's possible to switch to SQ injections.


Doses Of Medications

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