How to Give Your Dog Oral, Ear, or Eye Medicine
7 of 7 in Series: The Essentials of Dog Care for a Healthy Pet
At some point, you’ll need to give some type of medicine to your dog. Knowing how to medicate your ailing canine is important because, if you don’t, you won’t be able to get him the medicine he needs when he needs it.
The best way to give your dog a pill is to put it on or in a treat. You can prepare a cracker with cheese or peanut butter (or both) and embed the pill in the topping. Most dogs are glad to down the drug if they can have the goodie that's grabbing it.
If your dog has no appetite, however, you may need to pop the pill down his throat yourself. With your hand over your dog’s muzzle, place your thumb on one side of the upper jaw and your fingers on the other side and gently pry your dog’s mouth open.
Holding the pill between the thumb and index finger of the other hand, quickly place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible. Hold the dog’s mouth closed for a few seconds and rub his throat until you see him swallow.
Oral liquids are a little harder to administer than pills because they easily dribble from the dog’s mouth, making it hard to determine exactly how much of the drug the dog consumed. In addition, if the fluid is squirted way back in the mouth, the dog may choke and get some of the fluid in his lungs.
If the oral medication is dissolved in a tasty preparation, your dog may be quite happy to lick the medication from the end of a dropper or syringe.
If the bitterness of the medicine cannot be disguised, you may need to administer the oral medication in such a way that your dog has no choice but to swallow it. With the fluid in a syringe or dropper, tilt the dog’s nose upward, sliding the syringe through the corner of the lips and into the space between the cheek and the molar teeth.
Inject the fluids slowly while holding the dog’s head still. When the dog feels the fluids draining into his throat, he will swallow. Make sure you have a really tasty and flavorful treat ready to reward your patient — and to cover the bad taste of the medicine.
Administer eye drops to your dog just as you would for yourself. Tilt your dog’s nose upward with one hand, and put the drops onto the eye with the other. Hold your dog’s head up while he blinks several times to be sure the drops are distributed over the surface of the eye.
When administering eye ointment, your goal is to dispense the medication underneath the lower eyelid so it will be distributed over the eye rather than squeezed out by blinking. To administer eye ointment without any help, you’ll need a cooperative dog who will sit still while you work on his eyes.
If your canine is not feeling very cooperative, find an extra set of hands and have a tasty treat ready for a reward. With one finger, pull on the skin just below the lower eyelid. This pulls the eyelid away from the eye. With your other hand, squeeze a line of ointment into the pocket between the lid and the eye. Then release the eyelid, trapping the medication.
Administering a liquid into the ear is much like administering eye drops. The goal is to make sure the medication stays in the ear for at least a few seconds while it coats the skin of the ear.
With your dog sitting, position the ear so that the opening is facing upwards. (This is easy in a prick-eared dog, but it may take a little manipulating in a dog with dropped ears.) Use one hand to hold the ear open and the other to put the liquid in. Then squeeze the sides of the ear opening together and rub the base of the ear gently. This distributes the medication throughout the ear so that as little as possible flies out when your dog shakes his head, which he inevitably will do.