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Pet Resources
Medicating your Dog
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LIQUID MEDICATIONS

The easiest way to give your dog a liquid medication is to mix it with some canned food. To ensure that the medication is swallowed, it is best to hand feed a small amount of food containing the medication, rather than a large portion that the dog may not completely consume. Some dogs may be unwilling to eat the food or may have dietary restrictions that prevent you from using this technique. If this is the case, you will need to administer the medication directly into your dog’s mouth.

  • Place your dog in a safe and comfortable area where it can be easily handled. Have the medication prepared and easily accessible. It is easiest to give liquid medication if you have a second person available to help you.
  • Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Most liquid medications should be gently shaken or mixed prior to drawing them into the dosing syringe.
  • Gently pull your dog’s lip away from the teeth and create a “pouch” along the side of the mouth.
  • Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine teeth and advance the syringe so that it is in the mouth just past the tooth line.
  • Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the dog has time to swallow the liquid and breathe normally.
  • Most dogs will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time.

Rinse the dropper or syringe thoroughly with water and refrigerate the remaining medication if necessary.

PILLS/CAPSULES

The easiest way to give your dog a pill is to hide the pill in food. This usually works best if the pill is hidden in a small amount of canned dog food, peanut butter or cottage cheese, or you can purchase a product called "Pill Pockets" from our hospital, which is designed specifically for this. To ensure that the pill is swallowed, it is better to hand feed a small amount of food or the Pill Pocket that the dog is certain to eat rather than offering a large portion that the dog may not completely consume. Some dogs may spit out the pill, so it is important to carefully observe your pet after administering the medication.

If your dog persists in spitting out the pills or if dietary restrictions prevent you from hiding the pills in an appealing treat, you will need to administer the pill directly into your dog’s mouth.

  • Place your dog in a safe and comfortable area where it can be easily handled. Have the pill ready and easily accessible.
  • Make sure that you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions.
  • Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger (use your dominant hand – for example, if you are right-handed, use your right hand).
  • Gently grasp your dog’s muzzle from above with your other hand, by placing your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other side behind the canine teeth.
  • Once you have a firm but gentle grip, tilt your dog’s head toward the ceiling. The lower jaw will usually drop open. If not, open the mouth by placing the last two fingers of the hand holding the pill between the two lower canine teeth and pushing downward.
  • Quickly place the pill as far back over the tongue as possible. The pill is most likely to be swallowed if you place it beyond the hump of the tongue at the back of the mouth. Try not to place your hand too far back to avoid stimulating a gag reflex.
  • Close the dog’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position.
  • Gently rub the dog’s nose or throat, or blow lightly on the dog’s nose. This should stimulate swallowing.

The dog will be most cooperative if this procedure is performed quickly, in one smooth motion.

Make sure you give plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time.

EYE DROPS

The proper administration of eye medications is essential for your pet’s prompt recovery. Make sure that you wash your hands both before and after administering the medication to prevent the potential spread of infection.

If your dog’s eye is painful, you may need to have someone assist you with restraint or you may need to place a muzzle on your dog.

Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the prescription instructions.

  • Hold the bottle using your thumb and index finger. You may want to rest this hand on the top of the dog’s head to help stabilize it. .
  • With your other hand, use your thumb to pull down the lower eyelid. Place your remaining fingers under the dog’s jaw to support the head. The lower eyelid acts as a pouch to receive the drops.
  • Hold the bottle close to the eye but make sure you DO NOT touch the eye’s surface.
  • Squeeze the prescribed number of drops onto the eyeball, aiming for the center of the eye. Release the head.

The dog will blink, spreading the medication over the surface of the eye.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat when you are finished.

EAR DROPS

Administering ear medications to your dog can be challenging. Remember that your pet’s ears may be painful and that even a normally gentle and passive dog may respond by struggling, biting or scratching. You may need to muzzle your dog for this procedure.

  • Warm any refrigerated medication by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
  • Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the prescription instructions.
  • Squeeze the liquid medication into the dropper or prepare the squeeze bottle as directed.
  • Gently pull the ear flap straight up using your other hand.
  • Apply the prescribed number of drops into the ear canal while continuing to keep the ear flap elevated.
  • Rub the base of the ear against the head in a circular motion. Be cautious and gentle as your dog may object to this procedure. You should hear a “squishing” sound as you massage the medication deep into the ear canal.
  • Release the ear and let your dog shake its head. If the medication contains a wax solvent, debris will be dissolved so it can be shaken out.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat after giving the medication.

APPLYING CREAMS, OINTMENTS & LOTIONS

Applying topical medications to your pet can sometimes be a challenge. The information provided in this handout may help make treating your pet easier – for both of you.

What is the difference between creams, ointments and lotions?

Creams are non-greasy. Ointments have an oily base. Lotions are liquid preparations.  All are similar as far as application is concerned. Creams, ointments and lotions are for external use only. It is important to prevent your pet from licking and swallowing them.

Be sure to follow any directions concerning application of the product, e.g. using gloves, etc. This is important since some veterinary preparations may be irritating to human skin.

My dog is perfectly fine until I try to put the preparation on and then he becomes very agitated.

This may represent discomfort or actual pain. It is always a good idea to get someone to hold your dog, especially when applying medications to a sensitive or painful area. If you prefer, your veterinarian can recommend several types of comfortable muzzles that you can use when treating your pet.

I can apply the preparation but my dog licks it off as soon as it is applied.

A good tip in this case is to apply the product just before the dog is fed. Another technique is to take your dog for a short walk immediately after applying the medication. Most topical preparations work better if they are gently massaged in for a few moments after application. If you still have trouble applying your pet’s medication, please contact us and we will supply you with an Elizabethan collar. These are large plastic hoods that prevent the dog from licking at the affected area.

I have tried an Elizabethan collar but my dog goes crazy with it on!

The majority of dogs are initially upset by the collar because of its bulky size and appearance. Try giving your dog a treat or taking him for a walk to distract him from the collar. Approximately 80% of dogs will tolerate a collar with few problems.

 

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