The Safe Use of Veterinary Medicines

by 5m Editor
23 February 2011, at 12:00am

Practical tips on administering medications orally, by injection and in the drinking water in a Health bulletin that is part of the BPEX 2TS campaign.

Health Administration


Oral administration
  • Check dose rate – set doser if necessary
  • Pick up piglet carefully
  • Hold piglet comfortably and restrain properly
  • Deliver dose over the back of the tongue
  • Wait for piglet to swallow the dose
  • Release carefully


  • Deposit product at the correct site - every time
  • Poor injection technique can affect the efficiency of the product and cause irreparable carcase damage
  • Always use the method indicated on the product label
  • If you must inject more than one product in one day, inject at different sites (eg opposite sides of the neck) Check with supplier, vet or manufacturer
  • Do not inject into wet or dirty skin
  • Any withdrawal period for the substance being injected must be observed

With proper use, a needle should not break off in the animal. If it does:

  • If the needle is visible, restrain the animal and remove the needle
  • If the needle is not visible or not removable:
    • Mark the animal with a distinct and permanent form of identification
    • Record the date, identification and the means of the pig’s disposal in the medicine book
    • On-farm and in transport the pig should be penned on it’s own
    • Inform the slaughterhouse. Send an owner declaration casualty slaughter certificate with the pig and inform the slaughterhouse of the site of injection

Intramuscular injection – into the muscle

Intramuscular injection

Subcutaneous injection
  • Quickest and easiest method
  • Check correct needle length required
  • Locate injection site:
    • In the deep muscle of the neck
    • Behind the ear
    • At the highest point behind the ear where the loose folded skin meets the taut skin
  • Correct technique is vitally important
  • Inject at right angles to the skin
  • Too far back or at the wrong angle can result in the product entering the fatty tissue of the neck, which can affect uptake
  • Too low down can result in the product entering the salivary glands which can cause pain, eating difficulties and prevent the product from working.

Subcutaneous injection – under the skin

  • Shorter needle required than for intramuscular injections
  • Locate injection site:
    • Under the skin of the neck behind the ear
  • Insert needle so that it runs under the skin
  • Correct technique is vitally important

Water Medication

  • Allows quick treatment of large numbers of pigs in the early stages of a disease outbreak
  • Ensure medication is fully dissolved before administering
  • Check that flow rates are correct along the whole water line
  • During hot weather try and administer medication in the early morning or evening so that medicated water is not wasted by pigs trying to keep cool
  • Water quality may affect efficacy, check with your vet
  • Make sure the water distribution system is cleaned before and after the period of treatment
February 2011