How to Put Ear Drops in an Aggressive Dog

vet putting ear drops in an aggressive dog

When putting ear drops in an aggressive dog, it’s important to make it a pleasant experience by remaining calm and using a cotton ball or syringe to place the drops. To make the experience even better, make sure the ear drops are slightly warm. When all else fails, have a friend give your dog treats while holding them down.

Even the most mild-mannered dog can become aggressive when someone tries to put ear drops in his ears, especially if an infection makes the ear even more sensitive than usual.

The good news is that putting ear drops in an aggressive dog is actually a simple process when you learn the correct techniques.

Techniques To Place Ear Drops in an Aggressive Dog

Certain techniques can be used to restrain a dog and prevent him from biting. These techniques will keep both you and the dog safe while you’re administering ear drops.

Make the Experience More Pleasant

If a dog isn’t generally aggressive, making the experience of administering ear drops less unpleasant may be all that’s needed to keep him from snapping during the process. There are several ways to do this:

Remain calm

The more stressed you are about the process, the more stressed the dog will be. This is especially true if you try to restrain him using sudden movements.

Instead, sit with your dog for a bit, calmly petting him before putting the drops in. Slowly work your way to the dog’s ear rather than going straight for it.

Use a Cotton Ball

Put the ear drops on a cotton ball. This is especially useful if the dog has already made the connection between the ear drop bottle and a negative experience. Using a cotton ball is less jarring than having drops dripped into the ear.

Use a Syringe

Using a small syringe offers better control than ear drop bottles often do. It will allow you to be more accurate when placing the drops, which can be difficult with aggressive dogs.

Warm The Drops

Making sure the drops are slightly warm can make them less annoying to the dog. Just test them on your arm first to make sure they’re not too hot, or you risk burning the dog.

Use Treats and Praise

Provide his favorite treats and lots of positive reinforcement. This will help keep the dog from associating the ear drops with a negative experience.

Limit the Dog’s Vision

If a dog is more on the aggressive side when his ears are touched but small enough that you feel confident handling him yourself, using a calming cap or towel to cover the dog’s eyes can help calm them. If the dog is unable to see the ear drops, it may be easier to restrain him long enough to get the drops in.

Get a Friend to Help

Administering ear drops can go more smoothly if you enlist the help of someone else. This person can either help you restrain the dog or can provide a distraction with a steady stream of treats while you administer the drops.

The treats method works well if the dog is hungry and you use his favorite food, whether it’s small bits of egg, liver, or a spread like peanut butter.

Use a Leash

Tying the dog to a short leash may help avoid injury since his movement will be limited. This also prevents having to chase the dog if he breaks free from you, which will only increase both of your stress levels. Make sure to tie it to something stationary and strong enough to hold him.

Secure the Mouth

With large or aggressive dogs, it might be necessary to use a muzzle. If you don’t have a muzzle handy, using something like a bandana or strip of cloth to tie the mouth shut can work well.

If you use the non-muzzle method, be sure the cloth is tight enough to be secure without being tight enough to hurt the dog.

Tie a knot that will hold when you need it to but is easy to remove when you’re finished.

Get Help From a Professional

If you’re struggling to get the ear drops in or the dog is too aggressive and you’re afraid to try, talk to your vet and see if they can either help teach you to administer the drops or if they can just do it for you.

They have experience in dealing with aggressive animals and might be better equipped for handling the dog.

Also, if the dog isn’t generally aggressive, but only when administering medication, the dog will often be better behaved for a stranger like a vet than for its owner.

Last Resort: Sedation

If you’re unable to administer ear drops to your dog and he needs them for a long period of time, you might consider talking to your vet about getting a sedative to make the dog less aggressive during the process.

This is a last resort once you’ve tried everything else, but may be needed for a really problematic dog.

Training Your Dog To Accept Ear Drops

Dog’s ears are more sensitive than human ears, so if the dog isn’t feeling well and someone’s doing something he perceives as negative, it’s no wonder that a dog may snap.

Except in the case of overly aggressive dogs, most dogs who become aggressive when someone manipulates their ears do so because of a previous unpleasant experience.

To prevent such a challenging experience the next time your dog needs ear drops, train him beforehand.

Get the Dog Used to Having His Ears Touched

When you’re petting your dog, make sure to occasionally rub his ears and manipulate them to the degree that he’s comfortable.

Slowly increase his comfort level by using positive reinforcement until you’re able to look inside his ears without him pulling away or flinching.

Get the Dog Used to the Ear Drop Bottle

Dogs learn quickly that the little white bottle means a negative experience is on its way, so keep an empty bottle handy once your dog’s treatment is over.

Slowly start introducing the bottle at treat time, first setting it nearby, then giving the dog treats while holding the bottle, and eventually petting him while holding the bottle so he gets used to it and doesn’t panic any time he sees it.

Preventing Ear Infections

Another step that will prevent future stressful ear drop situations is eliminating the need for ear drops in the first place.

Clean the Ears Regularly

Clean your dog’s ears about twice a month to keep ear mites, yeast, and bacteria at bay. You can use a cotton ball soaked in mineral oil or special wipes made for ear cleaning purposes, available at most pet stores.

Prevent Swimmer’s Ear

If your dog is a frequent swimmer, make sure his ears are dry after every swim. Water from grooming can also make its way into the ear canal, so use care when bathing the dog and don’t let water get inside the ear.

Remove Excess Hair

It’s normal for a dog to have some hair inside his ears, but an excess amount can trap dirt and lead to an infection. If your dog has a lot of hair in his ears, have your groomer take care of it regularly.

Keep Allergies in Check

Just like humans, some dogs are prone to allergies. Allergies can contribute to chronic ear infections and can be caused by several things: dust mites, certain foods, pollen, the list goes on.

Keep your dog’s allergies to a minimum by determining and reducing allergens when possible, and giving allergy pills as needed (after clearing it with your vet).

Ear infection prevention will ensure that you don’t have to give your dog ear drops more often than absolutely necessary.

A combination of ear drop desensitization, training, and positive reinforcement will help to make the experience far less stressful for both you and the dog when it does need to happen. Even an aggressive dog can learn to take ear drops over time.

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