View Full Version : Shot-time Dilemmas-Your Experiences & Fixes

We Hope
02-13-2009, 02:43 PM
Anyone who's had to face a problem at shot-time, your personal experiences and how you solved them would help us out with Princess!

Your answer may be an answer for her too.


Cara's Mom
02-13-2009, 04:02 PM
I believe you use Vetsulin? I don't know which syringe your are using, but Cara started out with the U-40 1ml/cc 28Gx1/2" suringes that were supplied by Caninsulin/Vetsulin. We started having problems and switched to Ulti-Care 29 Gauge syringe. Huge different!! No more wiggeling and crying! Now I have switched to the .5cc-29Gx1/2" and things are even better. This syringe has a shorter barrel, easier to handle. Maybe something to think about with a small dog?

We Hope
02-13-2009, 04:36 PM

You bring up a good point about the smaller syringes being easier to handle. Never realized the larger ones could be a problem because we used the 3/10 cc syringes for the U 100 insulin and the same 1/2 cc's from Ulti you're now using for Cara.

Thanks for bringing this up! :)


02-13-2009, 05:03 PM
I think that using a thinner needle with a shorter barrel might really help. And although I have no actual experience giving shots, I do remember reading about using "pretend shots" to get a dog used to the idea and not afraid of shots.

Pretend shots would be pretending to give a shot using an empty (no insulin) syringe that has the needle removed, or maybe the cap still on. You would know it's a pretend shot even if the dog doesn't, so you'd also probably be much calmer doing the pretend shots. It would also be really quick to do, because you aren't really trying to give a shot and she won't feel any of the "negative feelings", like frustration for example, from you that she might be feeling when you have been trying to give the real shot, so maybe that would also help to calm her down.

With enough repetition the dog might very quickly learn to just associate the (pretend) shot with getting a treat right afterwards. Sort of like "if I sit, or give my paw, I will get a treat". And when she is no longer fearful about the pretend shots, maybe she'd actually sit still for a real shot?

Hopefully you'll get more ideas soon!

02-13-2009, 06:36 PM
Thanks for starting this up Kathy, I'm really anxious to hear everyone's methods/ideas.

Right now we have her on Vetsulin with the .5cc, 29, 1/2" needles and it just does not seem to be working with her. I mean I stabbed myself twice the other day trying to inject her and it stung like a b***h! (That and I started bleeding....)

Anyways I think I am going to start the pretend method thing. Today during lunch I went and kept grabbing some of her skin like we would usually do during the shot and she didn't seem to move. I think alot of it though was that I didn't have a needle in hand. So what I did was grabbed a needle (cap on) and kept grabbing some of her skin to get used to it, and pretended as though I was just smelling her skin (like for insulin so that she would get distracted/or at least know it was not to give a shot) and she didn't seem to mind.

So I think tonight I will "pretend inject" her first/ or pretend that I'm just smelling her skin and see if it goes easier that way. Fingers crossed.......

(Ideally I'd like to go to a 30/31 needle, but I know they only come in small length needles so there is more possibility that the insulin doesn't get all the way distributed, but I really just want something that is going to be less painful for her. The thing is she is a much smaller dog then most here so I know she feels it more. And honestly for anyone I'm sure they wouldn't enjoy getting pricked twice a day for the rest of their life, so I want to try and make it as comfortable for her as I can.)

Sorry I think I'm just in a sort of grumpy mood today, that and my eye hurts.

We Hope
02-13-2009, 06:44 PM
I know of someone who got her dog started to accept blood testing by using a "pretend" method. She used the tip of an opened paper clip and started a routine of touching her in the area she hoped to eventually do blood testing on.

I think if you can get going with doing shots without a lot of problems, you can switch to the smaller gauge needles and do the conversion method if you want.

My worry was that I had a guy who was very excited and happy when it was time for hs shots (thinking about roast beef after it), and I was personaly glad to have the longer 1/2" needle so I was sure I would get all of the insulin where it was meant to go.

I think if all of those who've had shot problems and solved them talk about them, one or more of their answers can help you both! ;)


02-13-2009, 06:46 PM
If pretend injecting (with a real syringe or even a paper clip) just a few times before doing the real shot doesn't work, maybe try doing a bunch of pretend shots at times when she's not going to get a real shot right away.

Do it like as if you are teaching her a new trick. If the dog does the thing (give paw, sit, or in this case, pretend injection) they get a treat. Can be green bean or anything ... a really little treat will do.

Then repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat. And repeat again! She'll eventually get the idea that sitting quietly and getting a shot = a treat is coming. And if you can be calm while doing it, pretend or real shot, that would probably help, too. ;)

I'm sure you'll soon be getting other ideas from experienced folks who had the same issues when they first started.

02-13-2009, 06:55 PM
Just have a minute to post but would like to help. Lady is a 15lb Australian Terrier who can be very hard to handle. For her injection she is on a counter or table on a specific pad. (She has already eaten her wet food that is in her dish on the floor.) When she is on the pad, laying down, her dry food is in a small measuring cup with a few pieces of chicken on top. While she is eating the food I give the shot.
For the first 2 years she had Vetsulin(Caninsulin) but she has recently been switched to NPH. At the end of the Vetsulin she was getting 16iu's each injection and it still wasn't keeping her bgs regulated. We're getting better control with the NPH and I have less insulin in the syringe and the syringes are smaller. I have small hands with short fingers so wasn't going to be able to inject more than the 16iu's of the canine insulin. We were using the Ulticare syringes..1/2in, 29 gauge, .5cc. for the Vetsulin.
The syringes for the NPH are still the 29 gauge but I think they're just .3cc. Not close to them right now to be able to check.

It took months to come up with this arrangement but has worked for 21 months. Every once in awhile she will fight the shot but I just take away the food till she settles back down. Sometimes I think that her skin is tender where I'm making the tent so I move my fingers a little. I have 4 spots that I rotate around when doing the shot. That took a couple of months to work out too!!
Hope you have an easy time adjusting to the routine and I'll check back when I can to see how you're making out. If I can do this--anyone can!!
Wishing you all the best,
Jo-Ann & Lady :)

02-13-2009, 06:58 PM
The short needles should easily deliver the insulin under Princess's skin, so you could go ahead with that, but I"d be inclined to wait till you solve the basic problem of Princess's terror. I really like your idea of doing the pretent-shots, and I'm delighted you tried it at midday today!

Keep up the good work!

Remember that both you and the dog have to learn. Remember that YOU need to be calm, or Princess certainly won't be! Remember to breathe - dogs notice when we hold our breaths, and anticipate "the worst."

Once you've been successful with a few injections, then you could turn your attention to the possibility of using the thinner, shorter needles - reports from those who made this change are that it's like night and day.

Keep us posted, please! I think you have the entire forum rooting for you and Princess!

Fri, 13 Feb 2009 17:58:43 (PST)

02-13-2009, 07:14 PM
I can't contribute any personal experience as Chris was never a problem to inject. I will try to pass on, though, various techniques that I have seen work with dogs over the five years I've been involved in forums...

I would try the different syringes - thinner needle and shorter needle - and see if it helps - you really don't have anything to lose. It could be the long needles are too long and going in too far and poking her on the other side. Or maybe she just prefers a different needle length just because. Certainly is worth a shot... no pun intended! The SubQ space is not necessarily all that far down.

The pretend shot is an excellent suggestion. Thank you Cushy!

Does she eat kibble? If so, you could actually use her meal as training/conditioning treats and give her a pretend shot and then reward her with some of her meal - give her 20 pretend shots in one sitting! And mix that up with some other tricks so it doesn't get totally focused on the shots. That way, you wouldn't be adding something new or extra into her diet. And pretend shots at various times throughout the day so it doesn't only happen at meal time and could be rewarded with something other than food.

You do have to consider the "playing you" angle. If it's accomplishing a goal of Princess', she's going to keep it up. You are assuming, at least emotionally, that the shots hurt her and it's been suggested that she's scared. That may or may not be true. It sounds like Princess has not often had to adapt her behavior to your training - you have adapted the routine to fit Princess' demands, such as with potty training. So she's used to having her way. That was okay until you bumped into something that she has to have to survive. It will take a pretty big shift in your relationship with Princess in terms of who is in charge if this is the case.

It's a good thing nail trimming isn't necessary for survival or Chris would have passed away at an early age! :o

The question is whether this is a "control" issue or an actual "fear" issue. No amount of conditioning ever got Chris over his aversion to having his nails trimmed - it was the only thing that would cause him to try to nip - while practice eventually made his lip tests really easy. I personally suspect that in Princess' case it is more of a "control" issue.

I have seen dogs where the person just deciding "we ARE going to do this" made a difference.

The time pressure will not help anyone so you may need to figure that Princess' schedule may be a bit off for a while if the pretend shots don't do the trick. And there may be times when you just have to back off and let the shot go for fifteen or twenty minutes - before everybody is a wreck - and try again. Or maybe even skip one - not a great option but neither is a bloody adrenaline soaked battle that fuels everyone's anxiety!

Injecting her in a different place or a different position or a different style - on the floor, on the couch, in her bed, in the sink, held tightly, not held at all, speaking soothingly, not saying anything, being stern, being matter of fact, baby talking... Every dog is different and none of us can tell you which, if any, of these changes would help Princess - I've seen all of them work with some dogs. You will have to draw on your experience with her and probably just plain experiment.

It's like they say about socializing puppies... expose her to shots in lots of different kinds of settings so they aren't tied to that one time and place and see if one particular place/technique/hold or no hold seems to work better for her.

And if it's that she's always called the shots (there goes the pun again...), could be none of them will work and only a change who's in charge will do it.

Even plain old passage of time may make the situation better and you can step back emotionally and figure that you will get it worked out but it doesn't have to be all fixed today. Your mental approach does have a big effect.

Think about what motivates Princess and use that to your advantage if you can. Jack, for example, does not like to be petted, so stroking would not be a positive reinforcement for him. A snack or play time would and sometimes he really needs a boundary set on his behavior rather than a reinforcement.

And let yourself off the hook... it will come with time and experimenting with different techniques and conditioning... maybe a little bit of all of those things.

For right now, try everything and see what works with Princess. And be kind to yourself!


02-13-2009, 07:34 PM
Oh gosh you guys, I mean seriously I could be thinking that I just don't have the will to do all of this "diabetes" handling, and then I come here and you guys give such words of encouragement that I know I can get up and do it.

Carol W, Kathy, Cush, Jo-Ann & Lady and Natalie, thank you so much for all your advice.

Natalie I definitely agree with you that a lot of it has to do with mine and Princess's relationship. I have definitely always been the one that instead of having her know who's in control, have tried and catered to her every need just to make her happy.

With the diabetes being diagnosed I promised myself in the beginning that I was going to be one of those who decides that " I AM GOING TO DO THIS", because her health is more important than my emotional feelings. I think a lot of it is that I have a South American family (mother primarily), and they all feel I'm going too strict on all of this and that I should lighten up (i.e. schedules, injections, monitoring).

ESPECIALLY my mother, who despite me arguing with her "You think I ENJOY injecting her? I'm doing it so that she lives and that so we don't find her one day on the ground in a coma or worse DEAD" seems to get on me every time for having to inject the poor baby. I see where she's coming from, as getting injected would be fun for nobody, especially twice the day, but I think I will just have to calmly tell her that this is for her own good and if I didn't have to, I definitely wouldn't. But I love her more then to just ignore a disease that could potentially take her life.

But enough with all my worries/concerns, I'll save that for my therapist sister :)

I'll keep you guys posted. I'm going to start giving her pretend shots right now so that she at least is a little more calm about it for her 9:20PM shot tonight.

02-13-2009, 08:09 PM
Natalie you sound so much like me, it's scary! I think our other Natalie can attest to that! I was totally freaked out by the shots and Min Pins are hyper dogs! At least mine is.

It took awhile and a few missed shots. The only thing that helped and continues to help is FOOD! I buy diabetic cookies and I break them up into smaller pieces. I have to get his mind off the shot and he's a real foodaholic.

It became easier to do once I calmed down too. I used to shake everytime I did it. Sometimes I would just sob after the shot.

I'm not saying this happened overnight, but it really does get better. Once you are calmer, you'll know by instinct how fast to inject, where the best injection spot is (for your and princess's comfort), and how to handle the needle when they wiggle, etc.

It comes with practice. Someday, you'll be just like me! Hysterical about something else!:)

Hugs to you and Princess. You are really doing a wonderful job with her!

Soaphie & Sydney's Mom
02-13-2009, 08:13 PM
Hi there!

I was just reading through some of the ideas here on this thread...here's an idea that you could do step by step (combining many of the ideas that have been said).

Have your baby lay down and stay and place a treat a few feet away from her (that is, if she is good at sit/stay). Do a pretend shot and release her, have her lay/stay and give pretend shot and release her to get the treat. Keep repeating, then give her a real shot and release her.....

My Soaphie girl will do ANYTHING for tomatoes so that's what she gets after her shot. Honestly? I don't think she even feels it - there isn't even a bit of flinching. She finally moves after I pull my hands away from her body - not right after I pull out the needle. (KNOCK ON WOOD - hope I'm not jinxing myself now).

Good luck to you - I know you will figure it out - there are many people here to offer ideas and support.


02-13-2009, 11:00 PM
I believe some people smear some peanut butter or something similar on the fridge door at shot time as a distraction - probably wouldn't work with all dogs though.

I love the idea of giving dummy shots - my Zac (no medical conditions and lets keep it that way!) is very wary and uptight about having his Advantix applied (I think the first time we used it he may have had a tiny scratch on his skin and it does sting on broken skin) so I think I'll do something similar with regards that. He's got better over the last year but it is still something that scares him - fortunately he takes it like a good doggy despite this. When my daughter was little she needed quite a bit of medical testing at one point and playing with syringes and giving dummy shots really helped stop her becoming fearful so I don't know why I didn't ever think of doing that with Zac......

The funny thing is when the vet put in his microchip he didn't even notice - he was too busy cleaning up the liver treats that had "got spilled" on the floor.

I would think if a dog was being a real problem with shots and you couldn't overcome the problem yourself that getting help from a good behaviorist could help. You would need to find someone with whom you are philosophically compatible so to speak and with who's methods you and your family are comfortable as approaches vary.


02-13-2009, 11:20 PM
Lucy is a real food gobbler. I slow her down by doing clicker training with her meal kibble as rewards.

One of our commands is "still." Sometimes I hold her lip back like we do for her BG test & sometimes I fiddle with her neck scruff like she was getting a shot. She gets rewarded for holding still.

Having said that, lately I've had to be more patient while she settles down. Her energy level has been really improving. When we started she would just lay there while I gave her shot.

I am going to give the "pretend shot" thing a try.


02-13-2009, 11:29 PM
I also remember reading about someone who would always give pretend shots to her other dogs when her diabetic dog was getting his/her real shot. After all, they wanted to get treats too!

So they'd all line up and she'd give the real shot to the diabetic dog, then give that dog a treat ... and then she'd give pretend shots to all of her non-diabetics, with their treats given immediately after too, of course. :D

02-13-2009, 11:36 PM
When Mia had her Lysodren, Zac had to have a small ball of cream cheese too - of course. Just had to be real careful not to get them muddled up - I always squashed his completely flat just to be sure.


02-17-2009, 04:36 AM
I found the 31 gauge short needle did work well, but with me and Niki she has a new shot area, she sits and I have to play acrobat and get around her to do a shot above her leg/hip area.

The 29 gauge are helpful for when I have to go under the skin and get some angle with the needle, the short ones make that hard to do.

We are having trouble with injections cause she lost weight, I was using for a distraction some of the squeeze cheeze out the can, this worked for awhile, I remembered my one vet doing this while she gave the vaccinations.

Also I would try too using a needle with nothing in the syringe and try some areas to see if you can inject there, I am amazed at times it does not hurt Niki, but then at times it does.

I will have to think some more about this.

02-17-2009, 06:12 AM
Even though I had already had a diabetic dog, when we discovered Ricky was diabetic, I was, once again, a nervous wreck about the injections. He was initially put on Vetsulin, and we were using the syringes from the vet. He was not taking the shots well, and I was getting more and more shaky and nervous with each injection problem. I discovered that the needle was 29 gauge, and I thought "That's the problem!!"...I don't know what worked, or if it was a combination of things, but this is what we did...I sit on the bed and let Ricky sit in between my legs. (Hard to do when you are my age!!) I used a soft muzzle on him, thinking it might calm him down. I inject him in the side of the neck area, so I just get him to lie on his side, pull up a tent of skin, and inject. We switched to the smaller gauge needle, and with the muzzle, and the fact that I decided it had to happen, and I had to do it..so I calmed down..we made it work. We are at it now for a year and a half, I still use the muzzle (I don't need it, and it is VERY loose, but he waits for it to be put on and I think it comforts him), and the shots are the least of our worries. Please don't give yourself a hard time about this, it is a big deal in the beginning. You can do it.;)

Love and hugs, Teresa and Ricky

We Hope
02-19-2009, 09:11 AM

"Holding an ice cube against the skin for several minutes can also numb the skin."

We tried this a while back for someone's dog who was having problems when he got his shot. It takes a little longer with a dog because you need to hold it there long enough for the cold to get past the fur. Our "test dog" was a samoyed, so you know how thick that type of fur is. It worked fine. ;)

Maybe this can replace the OraGel/Anbesol--nothing but frozen water. :)


04-21-2009, 11:02 PM
With the first week of giving injections I had to be firm with Niki, this needed to be done, it did not seem to hurt back then, I think she was playing me and no doubt sick of the vet visits.

I think since Niki put some weight back on the shots are not a problem anymore, she still gets them in the hip area as she sits, but I think she just has had enough of the scruf area, there are no lumpy areas at the scruff, all in all we've come out of our bump in the road.:)

05-12-2009, 07:26 PM
Andy was on Vetsulin at first with the big 29g syringes. He did not make a fuss at first. I believe he was too sick to care. Then in a couple weeks when he felt good, that all changed.

It was then I was told about using smaller syringes. I started using the 31g short and I also buy the BD brand. Things improved dramatically after that.

Andy is small so I put a towel up in the bathroom sink and lay out a treat. I put him in the sink, he has his treat and then we give the shot. For the most part he is very good about this.

There have been a few times when he decided he was not going to do the shot. I talked firmly to him and in a calm voice let him know that I was in control and this was going to happen. I have even put his head under my arm to let him know I will hold him down if needed. Once I change the tone of my voice he submits immediately.

The truth is, I still get sick at my stomach sometimes. I try not to let him know it! :D

05-17-2009, 05:16 AM
Andy was on Vetsulin at first with the big 29g syringes. He did not make a fuss at first. I believe he was too sick to care. Then in a couple weeks when he felt good, that all changed.

It was then I was told about using smaller syringes. I started using the 31g short and I also buy the BD brand. Things improved dramatically after that.

Andy is small so I put a towel up in the bathroom sink and lay out a treat. I put him in the sink, he has his treat and then we give the shot. For the most part he is very good about this.

There have been a few times when he decided he was not going to do the shot. I talked firmly to him and in a calm voice let him know that I was in control and this was going to happen. I have even put his head under my arm to let him know I will hold him down if needed. Once I change the tone of my voice he submits immediately.

The truth is, I still get sick at my stomach sometimes. I try not to let him know it! :D

I think this describes Oliver to a "T"!!

We are taking him to the vet tommorrow for another BG curve. I want to figure out exactly which u100 short needle BD syringes to purchase. I will be letting the vet know that I am switching AND I understand that I need to multiply his current dosage of Vetsulin x2.5 to administer the correct dosage.

I'm just confused on ALL of these syringes.

Oliver is currently on 4.5 units of Vetsulin using the UltiCare 29g 1/2" needles. I'm not sure if his insulin will be increased this week or not, I'll find out tomorrow. They've been increasing him by .5 units each week, so I would suspect, unless everything is good, we'll be at 5 units 2x per day.

So, my understanding is...4.5 x 2.5 = 11.25 units on a u100 syringe

Now, which u100 syringe do I buy?

It is my intention that after we get the injection process worked out and Oliver quits being such an uncooperative wiggle butt, my next conquest will be to start home BG testing.

05-17-2009, 05:44 AM
It took me awhile to discover this but when Lady would protest having her shot I found that I was holding my breath! I would use my tough voice and start breathing normally. And then the shot would happen!!! Even after 2 1/2 years this can still happen to us...how does she know I'm holding my breath? It amazes me that she is so tuned in to my state of mind and emotional state at any given time.
Jo-Ann & Lady :)

04-04-2011, 04:56 AM

I had the greatest news Saturday! Madi's blood glucose level is now 140! Everyday, she becomes more "tolerant" of her injections and it is paying off big time.

A week ago, I discovered that placing her on a blanket in the bathroom sink in front of the mirror seemed to be enjoyable for her. We look at each other in the mirror and have a bit of a conversation. I also learned that an acupressure point of calming on dogs is between their eyes, low on the forehead. She loves it when I rotate my finger there and seems to calm down almost immediately! What was once a horrible experience for both of us, has turned out to be our "special time together". She even enjoys the trips to the vet now, basking in their praise at how much she has improved.

Thanks to everyone who guided me through this and Madigan sends one of her special big kisses to all of you!