Like humans, dogs can get eye infections. If yours gets one, a vet may prescribe eye drops for the dog. Your dog may be naturally aggressive or may panic when you attempt to put drops in its eyes. As a result, your dog may attempt to bite or otherwise hurt you. Before administering eye drops to your dog for the first time, familiarize yourself with the steps you can take to ensure your dog’s comfort and your safety during the process.
Cover or remove nice clothing and work on an easy to clean surface because administering eye medications can be messy.
Begin by putting a muzzle on the dog, which often eliminates the need for additional restraints. Many dogs give up and stop trying to fight once the muzzle is on. You can use an open-ended, closed, or basket-style muzzle made of leather, cloth, or plastic. All types have a strap that you must buckle at the top of the dog’s head, behind its ears. Dogs with short faces, such as Boston Terriers or bulldogs, require a basket-style muzzle. Open-ended muzzles can interfere with these dogs’ breathing.
Restrain the dog further if it continues to resist after the muzzle is in place. Enlist the help of a second person. To keep a dog on its belly, place your arm and upper body over the dog’s shoulders. Use the other hand to hold the head and lift it upwards, providing access to the eye. The person administering the drops should stand on the side opposite the eye being treated. Another method is to put the dog on its side. When the dog tries to lift its head, place your elbow over the dog’s neck and gently push its head back down. When holding the dog’s legs, grasp them close to the body, not to its paws. This will give you better leverage to hold the dog securely.
Choose a position that is comfortable for the dog and provides you with a good position to administer the eye drops. Apply the minimum amount of restraint necessary; excessive restraint often encourages dogs to be stubborn and to keep fighting you. The more restraint you use, the harder and more dangerous the experience may become, and the greater the risk of injury to you and the dog.
Cradle the dog’s head in your non-dominant hand. Use the thumb of the hand cradling the head to pull down on the lower eye lid, creating a pouch between the eyeball and lid.
Deposit the prescribed number of drops into the pouch. Do not allow the top of the bottle or pipette to touch the eye. Unlike with eye ointments, there is no need to distribute drops across the eye through massaging. To reduce the chance of contact between the bottle or pipette tip and eye, try resting the heel or middle finger of your dominant hand on the dog’s head as you hold the bottle. Doing so can help stabilize your hand.
Use non-stretching gauze as a substitute if you are not able to obtain a muzzle. Use a length of gauze that can wrap around the dog’s muzzle at least twice, tying the two ends together behind the ears.
Always check with your vet about the proper way to administer any medication.
Aksana Nikolai is a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology with a bachelor's degree in language studies and international affairs. Nikolai is currently working in online marketing and communications. She has been writing since 2008, specializing in made-for-Web content and maintaining her fashion and beauty blog.