View Full Version : problems giving penicillin

lynbarree (Guest)
10-08-01, 05:52 AM
I have given about 100 shots of penicillin over the years, but this week have a horse on a course and every day I put the needle in, attach the penicillin and the plunger will not budge at all. Take the needle out, and squirt the penicillin out and it seems jammed and then spurts out freely. Put the needle back in and try again and same problem. I had a couple of old but unopened needles of another brand and have used them yesterday and today after trying the newer needles and only then can I get the penicillin to flow into the horse's neck.
Any suggestions?? My horse is becoming unhappy about getting 3 jabs a time now and I am getting really frustrated about it.
What procedures do others use to give injections?

Ali (Guest)
10-08-01, 06:14 AM
I had this problem once, my poor horse was going through the same thing, not happy jan!!
What was happening was that the needle was getting a "plug" of muscle wedged in the tip. I was sticking the needle straight in to the neck kind of like a dart. If you push the needle in rather than jabbing and push it in at a slight angle, you should be able to avoid the "plug' thingo happening. Good luck to you and your poor pin cushion of a horse, my horse is also on penicillan at the moment, so I know what you going through!!

Experienced NeedleWorker (Guest)
10-08-01, 06:43 AM
Put needle in, attach Syringe and then draw back
before pushing in.
You should do this anyway to make sure you have not hit a vein
penicillin into vein is a very traumatic way for a horse to die!
Draw back and if you see blood pull out and start again.
Drawing back into the syringe should take the pressure out and clear anything blocking the needle hole making it easier to push out the penicillin.
Try also giving it in the chest the muscles arnt as hard
to put the needle in and may make it alittle easier

EK (Guest)
10-08-01, 01:16 PM
My horse is on a course of penicillin at the moment too.

As above but when you go to insert the needle (unattached to the syringe), throw it a bit like a dart - so that it doesn't end up at a right angle to the neck but rather a bit sideways. I always draw back and also before I throw the needle I slap the skin a bit to desensitise it.

Obviously not too sideways as you'll just inject under the skin instead of into the muscle (you'll see the tell-tale fluid build up as you inject). When the needle is in the neck/chest/etc my vet told me there should be a 1cm excess between the skin and the nozzle bit (very scientific) that the syringe goes into.

Make sure you are using a fairly big needle as well! Something like a #1 (1.2mm). The finer needles make the job a lot harder.

I always give them in the neck. I'm too much of a wuss to give them in the rump, they're a bit hard.

justme (Guest)
10-08-01, 01:18 PM
How much time is there between drawing up the penicillin from the bottle and injecting it into the horse??
The longer you let it lie around, the more the penicillin settles out - in the syringe, into the white part and the clear liquid. The white bit is really thick, and won't go through the regular 18 gague needle - so you get "plugs" of it blocking the syringe/needle. These can often be squirted out, but then another one blocks it up again.
It is really important to make sure you shake the bottle really well - and get all the white part mixed up off the bottom of the bottle before drawing it into the syringe, and then to inject it as soon as possible so it doesn't settle out.
Some brands are worse than others for being lumpy or gluggy - usually the cheaper ones!

Also, are you using new needles/syringes each time, or re-using them - if re-using, you can often get little plugs of dried penicillin in them between uses.

If it seems to be a brand thing, let your vet know - maybe s/he'll get the better stuff next time.

THM (Guest)
10-08-01, 01:49 PM
Sounds like some sound advice from the others....Try pulling the needle out slightly before injecting...this will also help to removed the 'plug'that can be formed. Good Luck

lynbarree (Guest)
14-08-01, 05:29 AM
Thanks everyone for the advice.. Luckily I have finished the short course now and my horse is still on speaking terms with me.

Ali, I had tried both darting the needle in and slowing pushing it in and both had the same problems (I didnt really angle the needle much so I will try this next time if I have problems again).

I always drew back first and a couple of times once injecting the fluid and never had any blood and even then still managed to score a minor penicillin reaction on the Friday (starry glazed but alert eyes with an sudden arching of the neck and involuntary muscle twitching on the underside of the neck). Only lasted a minute luckily.

I feel like I need someone to show me how to give them in the chest. I would be worried about getting struck with the front legs (not that the horse tends to do that, just that you seem to be in a vunerable position to give them there).

Justme, maybe I was taking a little long. Problem is I get the needle all ready, horse is relaxed and I get someone to hold her head and suddenly you have a tight tense neck and you have a wait a minute or so for the muscles to relax or it wont go in well. Perhaps I shook the bottle to mix it too early before filling the syringe?
I was always using a fresh needle each day but did use the needle which went in the rubber to withdraw the penicillin to inject. I was only able to inject after swapping to yet another fresh needle which makes me think the rubber was getting stuck in the needle. The penicillin bottle was also expired with a sticker stuck over the expiry date to hide it. I checked this with the vet clinic and they said it was ok to use up to one year after expiry. I wonder if the penicillin is ok but the rubber is perished???

THM, I did try pulling the needle out a bit and this worked on the first day, but would not work any other day.

Hopefully I dont have to give any more penicillin for AGES!!!

Susan (Guest)
14-08-01, 06:05 AM
It used to be that when the horse had a course of penicillin it was 20ml once a day for five days.

But now a days it is 20ml twice a day for five days. Can anyone elighten me as to why they get double the dose now.

rappie (Guest)
14-08-01, 10:49 AM
Susan, dont quote me on this but I seem to remember something about the reason being the level of antibiotic that remains in the blood plasma. I think it is the same AB being used, and although it is long acting, by the end of the day the "therapeutic level" of AB remaining just isnt enough to do a whole lot.
Can't really remember :)
Difference between procaine penicillin and other perhaps.

Also, for the rest of the thread - are you alternating sides of the neck? Sometimes you can get a build up of the AB in muscle which makes it near impossible to inject, you might have noticed it before, but half way through an injection?
Just a thought


14-08-01, 12:26 PM
You've had lots of valuable replies, but I know how you feel. I'm fairly accustomed to giving injections, 30 years of nursing gives you a little experience, but always left my husband to needle the horses. However, a couple of years ago, my poor mare had a super gut infection, where we nearly lost her, and she was getting Gentamycin and Ampicillin twice a day for seven days, so I took my fair share of the labour. We alternated rump, neck - side to side, but just occasionally had the problem you describe. I'd agree about the drawing-up needle, it's all too prone to get a bit of the cap in it, and the other trick I used to use with procaine penicillin, and even the old crystalline penicillin, which we used to make up with sterile water, was to roll the syringe between my hands and warm it up a little ( this was for humans who were liable to complain if the injection took too long). Obviously you store it in the fridge, but I used this trick with Pips and it seemed to work well. The other thing we did, was put a dab of gentian violet over the last injection site, so we went to the side of it the next time. (She looked like a purple spot appaloosa by the time we finished). I'd definitely suggest you change from drawing-up needle to 'injecting needle', and support all the other posts about the gauge of the needle being sufficiently large, and drawing back.


Susan (Guest)
14-08-01, 02:34 PM
Thanks Rappie.

lynbarree (Guest)
16-08-01, 09:52 AM
Susan, I was actually only told to inject one 20ml shot per day and i was wondering about if it was enough as usually my other vet gets me to give two shots a day...
Rappie, I swapped from side to side each day and neither side was better than the other unfortunately.
Maggie, I like the idea of dabbing the gentian violet over the spot injected as its often hard to remember the next few days exactly where you last injected.

Susan (Guest)
16-08-01, 01:37 PM
Lynbarree only recently (well in the last couple of years anyway)have I come accross the practice of giving 20ml twice a day. I much prefer the 20ml once a day both for the horses sake and mine. The horses are bad enough by the end of the five injections neve mind ten.

I have my suspicions that it may be that some penicillin brands are more effective than others and there fore more expensive. That was all I could think of.