Intradermal Injection of Rabbits (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Intradermal injection picture 1. Click here for full page view with caption. Intradermal injection picture 2. Click here for full page view with caption. Intradermal injection picture 3. Click here for full page view with caption.

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords --
  • An assistant restrains the rabbit properly - on a non-slip surface, with the lumbar spine supported by the handler's forearms and the handler's hands supporting the thorax.
  • Choose an appropriate site: at the base of the ears, or on the back or flank.
  • Part the fur with the fingers of one hand to expose the skin.
  • Insert a fine (25 to 27 gauge) needle at a shallow angle into the skin.
    • A 29 Birmingham wire gauge (0.4 mm) needle is recommended. (J15.29.w2)
    • Insert the point of the needle at right angles into the skin so it just penetrates into, but not through, the skin. (J15.29.w2)
    • Lower the syringe gradually until the needle is parallel to the surface of the skin. (J15.29.w2)
    • Advance the needle until the bevel is completely within the skin. (J15.29.w2)
  • Inject carefully. 
  • If the needle is correctly placed, a "bleb" will become visible in the skin. 

(B601.2.w2, J15.29.w2)

Alternative method for vaccination: (B600.3.w3)

  • Use a 23-25 gauge needle.
  • Inject into the scruff of the neck
  • Give 0.9mL of the 1 ml dose subcutaneously.
  • Orient the needle bevel up and slowly advance the needle up into the overlying dermis.
  • Inject the final 0.1 mL into the dermis from underneath. 
  • A bleb of vaccine should be felt forming in the dermis by pinching the skin that is over the end of the needle between the forefinger and thumb. 


Appropriate Use (?)
  • Usually for injection of a tenth of the dose of the vaccine against myxomatosis. (B601.2.w2, J15.29.w2)
    • The remainder of the vaccine is injected subcutaneously at another site. (J15.29.w2)
Notes Techniques used in wild lagomorphs
  • While most veterinary procedures described for use in domestic rabbits can also be used in wild lagomorphs, it is much more likely that sedation or anaesthesia will be required to carry out such procedures in these animals.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • The needle can easily go through the skin so that the injection is made subcutaneously instead of intradermally; this can be detected because no "bleb" will form in the skin. (B601.2.w2)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Fine (25 to 27 gauge) needle.

  • Syringe.

  • Appropriate medication (vaccine).


Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • This procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience.
Cost/ Availability
  • Inexpensive; no special equipment required. (B601.2.w2)
Legal and Ethical Considerations In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (See: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).

Use of Drugs (Medication):

  • Many drugs are not registered for use in lagomorphs and care should be taken in their use, with proper regard for possible toxic effects. Consideration should be give to relevant legislation regarding the use of drugs.
  • In any country, drugs are unlikely to be specifically licensed for use in non-domestic mammals. 
    • In Europe the prescription cascade must be followed, and the client's informed consent should be obtained, whenever a drug is used which is not licensed for use in a given species. (B284.5.w5)
    • In the UK, guidelines regarding the use of drugs are set out in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Guide to Professional Conduct 2000: (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Choice of Medicinal Products).
Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee Tiffany Blackett BVetMed MRCVS (V.w44)
References B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2, J15.29.w2

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