Vaccinating your dog at home can save you money and be a less stressful experience than a trip to the vet. Check your state and local laws before giving vaccines. Some states require your dog to receive his rabies vaccination from a licensed veterinarian.
Vaccinations come in a standard dose for all sizes and types of dogs. Purchasing a single dose vaccine is easier and has less risk of contamination than purchasing a multidose vial. Read the instructions on the vaccine to ensure you are administering it in the correct location.
Subcutaneous Injection Sites
Most vaccines that you will give your dog at home are administered subcutaneously, or under the skin. Inject these vaccines under the loose skin of the dog's shoulder. Lift the skin of either shoulder, inject the needle at a 45-degree angle and administer the entire contents of the syringe. Before injecting the vaccine, ensure that the tip of the needle did not come through the skin on the other side.
Intramuscular Injection Sites
Some vaccines are injected into your dog's muscle. Ask your veterinarian to teach you to administer these shots before attempting it on your own. Intramuscular injections may be made into your dog's lumbar muscles along his back, about 2 inches away from the spine. The quadriceps muscle at the front of your dog's thigh or the triceps muscle behind the bone of the front leg are also good locations to administer these vaccinations.
Inject the needle into the muscle at a 90-degree angle. Before injecting the vaccine, pull back slightly on the syringe to make sure no blood flows into the needle. If you do see blood, remove the needle and use a different injection site.
Intranasal vaccines are administered into your dog's nostril. These vaccines may be administered with a syringe or with a dropper. Administer half of the dose into each nostril. It is normal for your dog to sneeze or shake his head after you administer these vaccines.
Cautions and Warnings
Check the instructions on the vaccine to determine how the vaccine should be administered. Administering a vaccine incorrectly may result in ineffective immunity or cause serious medical side effects. For example, injecting the intranasal Bordetella vaccine may result in liver failure.
Keep vaccines refrigerated at 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit until you are ready to administer them. Failure to do so may reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. When preparing the vaccination, ensure that the needle is securely attached to the syringe. Withdraw the liquid into the syringe and inject any air bubbles back into the vial. After giving the vaccine, place the cover back on the syringe and turn the used needles over to your veterinarian for proper disposal.
Watch your dog for any reactions for at least two to three hours after giving the vaccine. Some side effects you might see include lethargy, hives, vomiting or difficulty breathing. Contact your vet immediately if your dog has a reaction to the shot.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Doctors Foster and Smith: How to Vaccinate Your Dog at Home
- Maddie's Fund: Proper Handling and Use of Vaccines in Animal Shelters
- Doctors Foster and Smith: Vaccinate Your Dog at Home
- American Veterinary Medical Association: Administration of Rabies Vaccination State Laws
- Cold River Veterinary Center: How To Administer an Intramuscular Injection
- Watkins and Tasker Veterinary Group: Injecting your dog
- PetMD: Does a Smaller Dog Need a Smaller Vaccine?