The best way to put eye drops in an aggressive dog is to ask for help from a trusted friend. Have the friend keep the dog’s head steady while distracting them with a treat. While the dog is being distracted, you can administer the drops. If that doesn’t work, you may need to muzzle the dog.
A veterinarian will likely prescribe eye drops when your dog has an irritated eye. No one enjoys having something unfamiliar put in their eyes. This is especially true for dogs since you can’t explain to them what you are doing.
With most dogs, it is possible to administer eye drops with only a minor struggle. However, it’s much more difficult with some dogs.
Particularly aggressive dogs are not easy to handle. Some dogs have an aggressive response when someone comes anywhere near their eyes.
Because the dog must stay still, an aggressive or panicked dog makes it difficult to administer medicine, especially around the eyes.
Why Do Dogs Need Eye Drops in the First Place?
I know this article is about how to put eye drops in aggressive dogs, but it’s important to talk about why a dog would need eye drops in the first place. If there’s no real need for eye drops, it’s best to avoid them. Only use eye drops if it was recommended by the vet.
Here are a few of the common reasons the vet would prescribe eye drops.
Glaucoma is a relatively common disease, occurring in almost 2% of dogs in the United States. Some breeds are more susceptible to glaucoma. It happens when the pressure in the eye increases, which can cause loss of vision, in addition to severe pain.
The most accessible long-term treatment for glaucoma in dogs is medicated eye drops. They contain miotic agents, which work to constrict your dog’s pupil. This will temporarily decrease the pressure on the eye, slowing down the progression of the disease. It also hopefully helps with some of the pain.
A very mild infection will usually pass on its own with the help of a few eye drops that your veterinarian prescribes. This is especially helpful if your dog is prone to eye irritation.
Ulcers in the Cornea
Ulcers are lacerations in the cornea that are often the result of physical trauma. Your dog’s eye might simply have gotten scratched by another dog or by the end of a sharp stick. In most cases, ulcers heal well in a short time.
However, your veterinarian might still prescribe topical antibiotics in the form of eye drops. These will help prevent infection and reduce irritation. Any infection or irritation in the eye could lead to vision problems.
Putting Eye Drops in an Aggressive Dog
Now that you know the most common reasons for eye drops in dogs, it’s time to ask yourself if eye drops are necessary for your dog. If the vet recommended eye drops, then the answer is yes.
But what are you supposed to do if your dog is going to put up a fight when you try to administer the drops?
First and foremost, you must maintain a calm disposition. If you panic or act worried, your dog will become anxious. Dogs do a great job reading and reacting to our emotions and body language.
It’s also a good idea to hide the bottle of eye drops for as long as possible. Many dogs will recognize the bottle and know what is happening, causing aggression before even start.
Get Help If Possible
It’s a huge help if you can get assistance from a friend or family member. It’s even more helpful if it’s a person the dog already knows and trusts. Do not bring a stranger in, as this will likely make your dog even more nervous.
If your dog is uncomfortable with the people around them, there’s a bigger chance they will act out.
How to Approach The Dog
How you approach the dog is crucial if you want to make this a smooth process. It might be helpful to approach them from behind and try to get them on the floor.
For a large dog, you might have to straddle their back with your body to keep them on the floor long enough to get the eye drops in.
Some dogs are calmer lying down or on their side. Try different approaches with your dog to see what position they are most comfortable in. Whatever position they allow you to get closest is typically the most comfortable position for them.
When approaching your dog, you can give them something (food, for example) to keep them calm.
One tip is to hold something covered in peanut butter at a high angle. This will make your dog tilt their head up and help you get the eye drops administered if you work quickly.
Giving your dog a distraction could help get an aggressive or nervous dog calm down for a bit, especially if they are food motivated.
Reward your Dog
Always, always make sure to reward your dog when you have successfully given them eye drops. This will encourage them to behave well when the eye drops come out.
They know that with only a few seconds of discomfort, they will get a treat. The more times the eye drops are given, the calmer they will be.
Extra Safety Precautions
If staying calm, approaching your dog from behind, and using treats as a distraction didn’t work, here are some extra safety precautions you can take.
You may need to muzzle your dog, especially if they are prone to biting when scared. However, it’s important to only use a muzzle if you think it’s absolutely necessary.
Most dogs already hate the muzzle. By muzzling your dog for eye drops, you are creating the association that the muzzle means it’s time for eye drops. This creates a cycle that is unlikely to be broken, meaning your dog will never get over its fear of eye drops.
If the eye drops do not have to be administered daily, you could try giving your dog Benadryl. This will make them a bit calmer. You don’t want to be dependent on giving your dog drugs to administer medicine, but giving them Benadryl every once in a while is not a big deal.
Bring to the Vet
If nothing else, you can always call your veterinarian and see if there are other options. Either they can help you administer the eye drops or prescribe something else.
For some dogs, gels are less scary than eye drops. Some medications can easily be applied in a gel without a scary bottle getting close to the eye.
The Risk of Giving Eye Drops to an Aggressive Dog
Keep in mind that you are very close to your dog’s eye, which is super sensitive. If their eye comes into contact with the dropper, it could lead to an injury.
If you have a particularly aggressive or nervous dog, there’s a good chance they will be shaking their head the whole time, which increases the risk of injury.
When to Seek Help
If the vet has prescribed eye drops for your dog, it’s critical that your dog actually receives the medication. It can be especially difficult to administer eye drops if your dog is aggressive or nervous, but there are a few things you can do (such as holding up treats or using Benadryl) to make the process easier.
If you do not believe you can safely administer the eye drops, you should contact your veterinarian to figure out a better solution. This will minimize the harm to both you and your dog.
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Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of dogdorable.com, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.