All About Syringes
This page describes the benefits of O-ring syringes and contains detailed descriptions of the types of syringes (and accessories) that we sell. If you have questions about which syringe to order for your pet, please contact us.
Benefits of O-ring Syringes
We have sourced the very best syringes to help make your feedings easier, faster and safer, called O-ring syringes. At the vet you probably got syringes with black rubber plungers/stoppers (often marked “Monoject”). These syringes are designed for a single use as they have lubrication that fails after the first use. If you try to use them repeatedly, you will begin to feel resistance until you either can’t push the plunger, or it squirts forcefully and unpredictably.
The o-ring syringe does not rely on lubrication. Its silicone material is smoother (and won’t harden like rubber) and so it will glide reliably for hundreds of uses; often until the numbers wear off.
These syringes are more expensive than the others because of the materials used and importation from Europe. But once you have used one, you will never use one of the others again. In 2014 our cost for 60cc catheter tip syringes quadrupled due to the lack of supply worldwide. A partial explanation may be found in an article in The New York Times about feeding tubes and compatibility in human patients: U.S. Inaction Lets Look-Alike Tubes Kill Patients. If there is a future decrease we will price them accordingly.
How to determine which type of syringe you need
The correct feeding syringe depends on the type of e-tube and tube closure (“plug”) your cat or dog has. There are basically two types of syringes, luer tip and catheter tip.
Look at the end of your pet’s e-tube. The first type of tube has a top that is threaded and unscrews (usually, but not always, these tubes are clear.) For these tubes, you will need a luer slip tip syringe, which has a small diameter to fit (“slip”) perfectly inside the opening.
The photo shows the seven sizes of luer slip tip syringes available: 1cc, 3cc, 5cc, 10cc, 20cc, 35cc, and 60cc. The last syringe is the luer LOCK syringe in 60cc. The 1cc syringes are perfect for giving medications. If you put the medication in the tube first, and follow with the food, all the medication will reach the destination.
The 20 and 35cc’s are recommended for feeding if you have small hands or arthritis as they don’t require you to spread your hand as wide to use them. Since most cats and dogs will require more than 35cc per feeding, you may want to purchase at least two.
You may have also seen or received luer “lock” syringes. They are like the luer slip tip syringes, but they screw directly into the e-tube port. This keeps them from accidentally slipping out, but there is a disadvantage. If your cat or dog is frightened and bolts during feeding while you are holding the locked-on syringe, the e-tube will be pulled out.
The following images show details of how the luer lock syringe tip differs from the slip tip.
We do have a supply of 60cc luer lock syringes, if you prefer them, but please be careful not to hold onto the tube when feeding. Also note that if your vet gave you luer lock syringes, the luer slip syringes will also fit.
The “Red Rubber” Tube
The other type of commonly used tube your pet may have is the orange or “red rubber” tube. Normally the veterinarian will insert some sort of plug into the end that you remove or uncap to feed the animal. In order to fit directly into the funnel-shaped opening of the tube (about ¼ inch wide), you need a larger diameter catheter tip syringe. The photo illustrates how the tip tapers down to fit snugly into the red rubber tube. At this time, we have catheter tips in only the 60cc size.
Sometimes the vet will do a hybrid type of tube by inserting various adapters into the end of a red rubber tube. In the case of this picture of a “y” port, either syringe will work since there are two different sized openings.
You have asked for syringe caps, and we now have them to fit all sizes of luer slip syringes (NOT catheter tips). If you warm your pre-filled syringes in hot water, the caps will keep the food inside.
We have acquired a limited number of caps that fit luer lock tip feeding tubes. These are useful to have on hand in case the original cap is dropped and lost.
Adapter Christmas Tree Plugs with Cap
This adapter can “plug” right into your feeding tube, which allows you to shorten overly long tubes. It can make a huge difference if you have a tube that is dangling or catching on things, and a shorter tube produces less stress, strain and pulling on the stoma site.
Before cutting your tube, please discuss with your veterinarian. They put in the longer tube and may have a reason they prefer it to be long.
Once you have clearance, remember the old adage “measure twice and cut once.” If you cut it too short, there is no repairing it short of having surgery for a new tube.
You want to make sure that the tube and connector can still fit under the velcro on the collar. We recommend that you cut the tube at least 3 inches from where it emerges from the stoma. Then check it with the adapter inserted. You can always cut a bit more if you wish.
How it Works
The “Christmas Tree” name refers to the fact that the end that goes into your tube is conical and graduated from larger down to smaller diameter – like an upside down Christmas Tree. This allows it to enter a small tube and be pushed in until it is tight.
Then you will be able to use luer slip or luer lock syringes with the adapter.
Lastly, the following architectural drawing provides specific dimensions that might be useful when ordering syringes.
A Final Note
You may find o-ring syringes advertised that are “oral” syringes. These syringes are designed for giving oral medications and have a larger tip that will not fit into the standardized luer openings.