Sometimes your pet may require treatment that needs to be given at home via subcutaneous injection. Subcutaneous injection is a method in which certain drugs are delivered under the skin using a needle. This is most commonly needed in patients with diabetes where insulin needs to be given subcutaneously.

If this is required, a vet or nurse will have an in-person appointment with you to demonstrate how to give subcutaneous injections until you are happy to do them unassisted. This factsheet is to go alongside this appointment to provide a written prompt for how they are performed.

How to perform a subcutaneous injection

  1. Draw up the prescribed amount of drug
  • This may be either using a VetPen (turning the dial at the base of the pen) or by drawing up the drug using a needle and syringe

  1. Ensure your pet is in a comfortable position ideally with someone else holding them steady. There is no need to clip hair or clean the site.
  2. Make a ‘tent’ of skin by pulling up the skin over the back of the neck/shoulder blades
  • The scruff is the easiest location to perform the injection as there is lots of extra skin here and the area is relatively insensitive

  1. Insert the needle parallel to your pet’s back into the triangle of vertical skin at the back of the skin ‘tent’
  2. Draw back on the plunger to ensure your needle is not located in a vessel
  • We want to avoid accidently injecting the drug into the bloodstream as this can cause adverse effects
  • If blood is drawn back into the syringe, do not inject, remove the needle from the patient and start over
  • If no blood is drawn back, continue to step 6
  1. Press down on the plunger to give the injection or press the button on the VetPen to give the drug
  2. Wait a few seconds to ensure all the drug has gone under the skin
  3. Remove the needle from the patient and dispose of your needle and syringe in your sharps bin

It is advisable to wash your hands before and after this procedure in case of contamination with any of the medicinal products.

If you are uncertain at any point about how to give a subcutaneous injection, please contact the practice to book another in-practice demonstration or request to speak to a member of the clinical team for some reassurance.

Helpful resources

You tube videos:

This video is helpful because the person giving the injection is on their own, which will mimic your home environment.

How to inject a cat – they can be a bit different!

For diabetic patients:

The Caninsulin website has copious resources, and additional diabetes information will be provided if this is the reason for your subcutaneous injections.