How to Vaccinate Your Dog
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith

Many people vaccinate their own dog at home. While you may feel a little nervous the first time, giving a vaccine gets easier every time you do it.

Preparing the vaccine

remove liquid from vial 1. Tighten the needle on the syringe and insert the needle into the vial which contains the liquid. Withdraw all the liquid by pulling back on the syringe plunger.
inject liquid into powder vial 2. Inject the liquid in the syringe into the vial that contains the freeze-dried or powdered portion of the vaccine.
shake contents 3. Remove the syringe and needle from the vial and shake the vial as shown for a few seconds to mix contents well.
withdraw entire amount of vaccine 4. Insert the needle back into the vial and withdraw the entire mixed contents. Remove the needle and syringe from the vial. Hold the syringe with the needle pointing upward. If there is air in the syringe, push on the plunger slowly to eject the air through the needle. You are now ready to give the vaccine.

Injecting the vaccine

vaccinating a puppy in the loose skin of the shoulderMost injectable vaccines may be given just beneath the skin. For dogs, the best and least sensitive area is the loose skin low over either shoulder. Simply lift the skin, insert the needle, pull back slightly on the syringe plunger to be sure the needle is not in a blood vessel (if it is, blood will enter the syringe as you pull back the plunger), and then administer the vaccine. This method is called subcutaneous (under the skin) vaccination.

Some vaccines may also be given intramuscularly (into the muscle), but this is not recommended.

Intranasal vaccines

Most intranasal vaccines need to be mixed like injectable vaccines. After mixing, the needle is removed and an adapter supplied by the manufacturer is placed on the end of the syringe. In some cases the vaccine is drawn up into a dropper. Generally the entire dose is given, half in each nostril. It is normal for animals to sneeze or shake their heads after the vaccine is given.

Note: If your dog is sensitive or hard to handle, ask someone to help you hold your dog while you give the vaccine.

Use needles & syringes only once

With any vaccine or injectable medication, always use a separate sterile needle and syringe for each injection. Safely dispose of all used syringes and needles.

Consult your veterinarian as to which vaccines are appropriate for your dog. Recommendations vary depending on the age, breed, and health status of the dog, the potential of the dog to be exposed to an animal who has the disease, the type of vaccine, and how common the disease is in the geographical area where the dog lives or may visit.

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