Nearly 1 in 50 pets end up diagnosed with diabetes by the end of their lifespan. If your pet ends up with this debilitating disease, you will need to administer medications designed to control symptom progression and severity. In order to deliver these medications to your pet's system quickly, most are administered with a quick injection in the skin of the neck or back. You will need to use a new needle and syringe for each injection. Like human medical waste, you cannot just throw the sharps straight into the garbage can. Instead, you must use an appropriate storage device until you can transport the waste to a processing facility.
If you need to give your pet an injection away from home, you can actually use the syringe itself as a portable storage device for the needle. This procedure only works for a two-piece injection set, however. To prepare the barrel, you must pull the plunger back out temporarily. You can unscrew the needle end from the hub, and then place it in the barrel of the syringe.
Make sure the sharp end of the needle points away from the hub before placing the plunger back in place. You can keep the syringes organized until you return home by transporting them in a plastic bag. When you return home, make sure to place your discarded needle and syringe in a larger container for easy contained transport to the processing facility.
If your pet's medication requires the use of syringe with a fixed needle, you will need to cap the pointy end and place the entire unit in solid walled container. A tin can with corrugated sides works well for this type of needle and syringe due to its rigid structure.
You can use a can formerly used to hold coffee or tea. If possible, wash and dry the can before you first use it for sharps. Food residue can attract bugs or start to mold after just a few weeks. Make sure the tin can has either a small opening or a tightly fitting lid. Do not use tin cans that were previously filled with chemicals, including cleaning products or paint.
If you prefer a larger vessel for storage, you can actually use a thick plastic bottle for your pet's sharps. To find one with thick enough plastic, select a bottle that does not easily deform under pressure from your fingertips. Thin plastic bottles will not prevent needles from penetrating the plastic, putting handlers in danger of direct contact with the associated pathogens or medications.
You will also need to select a bottle with a long neck to keep the needles from spilling out if the container is accidentally tipped over. If you select a bottle with a screw top cap, clip the needles before placing them in the container.
No matter which type of bottle you use, make sure to clearly label the outside to identify the contents as medical waste and sharps. You may also need to tape the top of the rigid container before dropping off your waste.
Many vets allow their clients to bring in their pet's medical waste on a monthly basis. You will need to drop off the container with the front desk staff to prevent accidental contact with passersby. If your veterinarian office does not offer this service, you will need to find your local medical waste processing facility. You can look in your local hazardous waste directory for facility near you or medical waste services.
All waste dropped off at the facility goes straight into the incinerator to keep hazardous substances out of the landfill and water system. With advanced knowledge of the contents of the containers, workers can concentrate on avoiding direct contact with harmful medication residue and potentially zoonotic pathogens.