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Eye Drops for Your Dog

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Administering eye drops and eye ointment

Administering eye drops and ointments to your dog can be challenging.  Remember that your dog’s eyes may be painful, and even a normally gentle dog may respond by struggling, scratching, or biting.


Make sure you have read the instructions and understand the amount of medicine you are to administer to your dog’s eye.  Be sure that any liquid medication is well mixed and that ointment will readily come out of the tube.


Be sure to wash your hands both before and after administering the eye medication to prevent the spread of infection.  Gently clean your dog’s eyes to remove any discharge from the area before administering the medication.


With the medication handy, prepare a safe place you can comfortably handle your pet.  Placing a small dog in your lap may be easier. You may also wrap your dog snugly in a towel with only its head exposed.


With the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand, draw the medication into the dropper or hold the squeeze bottle or ointment tube with the tip pointed downward.  Keep the tip clean and do not allow it to touch your dog’s eye.  It helps to rest your hand on the dog’s head.


With your other hand, use your thumb on the muzzle to pull down the lower eyelid.  Place your remaining fingers under the dog's jaw to support the head.  The lower eyelid will act as a pouch where you can administer the medication.  Alternatively, pull upward on the upper lid if your dog is more comfortable with that.


Squeeze the prescribed number of eye drops or ointment into the pouch formed by the lower lid, and then release the head.  Do not touch the eye’s surface with the tube or tip of the bottle.  The dog will blink, spreading the medication across the surface of the eye.  The warmth of the eye will melt ointment to make it spread more easily.


Make sure to praise your dog throughout the procedure and offer a treat after giving the medication.

 

Q&A

What do I need to consider before administering eye medications?

Get ready by preparing a safe place where you can comfortably handle your pet.  Before starting, you should also read the instructions on the medication, make sure that liquids are well mixed, and wash your hands.


What’s the best way to handle my dog?

You can place a small dog in your lap, perhaps wrapping your dog snugly in a towel with only its head exposed.  Bigger animals can be positioned against you or led into a corner on the floor.


What are some tricks for giving the drops?

Handle the squeeze bottle or tube with your dominant hand, and use the thumb of your other hand to pull down the lower eyelid.  Squeeze the prescribed number of drops or ointment into the pouch formed by the lower lid, making sure that you do not touch the eye surface with the applicator.  


Should I scold my pet if it struggles?

No, you should praise your pet throughout the procedure and offer a treat afterward, so that medication time is a rewarding experience.

 

 

Credit: Written and reviewed by John A. Bukowski, DVM, MPH, PhDand Susan E. Aiello, DVM, ELS
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