"How to administer eye drops or eardrops to your dog

"How to administer eye drops or eardrops to your dog

Health & Safety

Many dog owners run into problems trying to administer pills and other oral medications to their dogs, and much is written on how to go about this with a view to making life easier for both dog and owner. However, two issues that are much less commonly explained to the owner are how to administer eye drops or eardrops to a dog, two situations that can be just as challenging, if not more so! Over the course of the average canine life, many dogs will require the administration of eye or ear medications, for issues such as conjunctivitis or injuries to the eye, or ear mites or an excessive wax build up within the ears.

If you have just returned from the vet with a bottle of medication, a reluctant dog and a total lack of inspiration on how to introduce one to the other, don’t despair. Read on for our tips on how to successfully administer eye drops or eardrops to your dog.

Staying safe and preparing

First of all, remember that either eye drops or eardrops involve dealing with the “pointy end” of the dog! Any activity that requires taking your dog outside of their comfort zone or doing something strange to them can cause even the most good natured of dogs to snap, particularly if they are not feeling well or the area that you need to medicate is painful.

It can be helpful to have a second person available to help you, particularly the first time that you try to administer the drops until you know how your dog will react, and you should strongly consider muzzling the dog if necessary to keep yourself safe while you do so.

While having either eye drops, lotion or eardrops administered is going to be rather an unpleasant sensation for your dog regardless of how you go about it, do what you can to make it as easy as possible. Ensure that you have everything you need to hand so that you only need to go through the process once, and that the liquid or cream is not too cold, to minimise the discomfort.

Eye drops

  • First of all you will almost certainly need to bathe the affected eye or eyes, and clear any gunk or debris from around the eyes than can accompany an infection.
  • Position yourself behind the dog with their back facing you, so that if your dog backs up, they are stopped by your body.
  • Assuming that you are right handed (reverse the process if you are left handed!) use your left hand to open the eye with your thumb and forefinger, taking care not to scratch the dog with your nails. The eye muscles of dogs are strong, so you will need to be relatively firm about doing this.
  • Then, holding the dropper in your right hand, bring the bottle up to the eye from the side, so that your dog does not view it descending upon them from above. Gently drop the required number of drops of the liquid onto the surface of the eye itself, without allowing the bottle to touch the eye. At this stage your dog is likely to try to paw at you or struggle to get away, which is why having a helper on standby to help to restrain your dog is a good idea.
  • If the lotion you are using is a cream rather than droplets, squeeze a little of the ointment to the end of the tube before you begin, and then squeeze the tube from one side of the eye to the other to leave a trail of ointment within the eye. Try to leave the trail as close to the lower lid as possible, while ensuring that it actually goes into the eye and not onto the eyelid! Again, do not allow the tube of cream to touch the surface of the eye.
  • Praise your dog and offer a treat after you are done, and keep an eye on them to ensure that they do not immediately paw at or scratch their eye and undo all of your work. You may need to use a buster collar or cone from the vet to stop them from doing this.


When administering medication directly to the ear of the dog, it is important that the liquid goes right into the ear itself, rather than simply sitting on the surface. Having any liquid or substance poured into the ear is an unusual and fairly unpleasant sensation, as any person who has needed eardrops themselves will know- so it is vital to have help on hand if necessary, as not all dogs will react well to this!

  • Again assuming that you are right handed (and again, reversing the process if you are a leftie!) use your left hand to manipulate the ear and your right hand to deal with the medication.
  • Have the bottle of medication ready to go, with the lid off and some cotton wool on hand to catch any drips.
  • If your dog has floppy ears, use your left hand to lift the flap of the ear and open the ear canal. If your dog has upright ears, this process is rather easier!
  • Once you have spotted the opening of the ear canal, use your right hand to drop the required amount of medication into the ear canal. Put down the bottle, but do not release the ear immediately, as your dog will almost certainly want to shake their head at this point and flick out the liquid!
  • Use the thumb and finger of your right hand to gently rub the base of the ear, encouraging the medication to run down into the ear canal. Wipe away any excess liquid with your cotton wool.
  • Prepare for your dog to shake his head vigorously when you release them!
  • Offer a treat and plenty of praise, and again, discourage your dog from scratching or bothering their ear, using a buster collar if you need to.
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