How to Apply Eye Drops When Your Dog HATES It!

Learning how to apply eye drops to your dog’s eyes is an important skill to have, especially if they really don’t like you doing it.

Learn some techniques, tips and tricks to help you medicate your dog’s eye without a battle!

how to apply dog eye drops

My final question today is from Catalina, who says, “Hi, I have a question. My friend is having a really hard time to apply eye drops to her Pug. Can you run through how to do this so that the Pug doesn't get too stressed ‘cause she's already running away and hiding every time as soon as she sees the drops and won't even accept treats. She has to take them every day for the rest of her life. So, can you help?”

How to give a challenging dog eye drops

  1. Get your vet to demonstrate

  2. Try different eye drops

  3. Warm first

  4. Get used to handling with positive reinforcement

  5. Explore alternative treatment options

Get your vet to demonstrate

To start with I'm going to suggest you to ask the vet or nursing team to demonstrate how they are applying the drops. It may be that they've got some specific tricks that this dog is going to get on well with.

Even just seeing and being shown how to handle the medication and how to hold the eye open and hold the dog's head can be really helpful. It is tricky and it does take a little bit of practice.

It’s definitely a situation where having a few more hands to help is beneficial because one person can help hold the head still and open the eye while the other person can administer the eye drops. It's something that you can do by yourself, but like I say, it does take a little bit of practice so ask your vet or nursing team for a demonstration.

Try different eye drops

The next thing to suggest is to see if there are any alternative topical medication options. Either a different drug, a different type of drug, or a different consistency.

You might find that actually having a liquid drop is easier than applying a gel, or vice-versa. Some people prefer gels to liquid drops and your dog might also prefer a change in the product.

Warm the medication

Next up is to warm up the drops in your pocket before applying them.

So very often, certainly with long-term medications, they might need to be kept in the fridge. Applying cold drops to the eye can be quite an uncomfortable or strange sensation. So warming them in your pocket before actually applying them might help make them a little bit more comfortable for your dog's eye.

Get your dog used to handling

We really need to try and get an association between having treats, and having a good experience, with having the eye drops administered.

Start by giving tiny treats that you know your dog will like. Then move on to giving treats while touching your dog's cheek or their chin. So not handling their eyes, not trying to administer any medication, but just getting used to being given treats while they're being handled.

Slowly work your way closer to the eye. Then start supporting the head a little bit more firmly. Start holding the head while you're giving treats. Again, maybe not handling the eye specifically, but giving treats, holding the head and opening the eye again without administering medication.

Hopefully this won't take too long, but it might take a couple of weeks before your dog is comfortable with this. You’ll need to be certain that this isn’t going to be a problem which will depend a bit on why the drops are being given in the first place.

Once a dog is happy with this handling, start applying the eye drops, all the while trying to distract them with treats. You can even do one eye at a time, have a half-hour break, and then administer drops in the other eye.

And hopefully if we take this step-wise approach, the dog will get used to having the eye medication, will actually learn to associate it with having treats, and it will no longer be a battle.

Alternative treatment options

If we've done all those things, so we've tried different consistency medication, we're warming it up, we’re trying to give treats, and you're still really struggling to give eye medication to your dog then you really need to have an honest chat with your vet.

You need to let them know and then you need to talk about any other alternative treatment options.

I don't know why this eye needs constant medication and lifelong medication, but you need to ask, are there any alternative treatments that might work? Are there any surgeries even that might be beneficial?

We shouldn't be ashamed of admitting that your really struggling. Our pets, be they dog or cat, often don’t let us do everything that we would like them to let us do or everything that we really ideally would need to do. But, there are often other ways. There are often other things that we can do to try and treat the same condition.

So be open with your vet. Don’t be ashamed or don’t think that they’ll think less of you, as being a bad owner or anything like that. I can only help my patients and help my clients if I know that they're struggling. So be open with your vet and have a chat with them.

Together you can come up with a treatment strategy that will suit you and your dog!

The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.

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