How to Give Your Dog Liquid Medicine

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Giving a dog his medicine is rarely easy, but knowing the proper procedure and what to expect can make the process more pleasant—for you and your dog.

Many people find liquid medicines easier to administer than other types, such as pills, capsules, eye drops or injections. But it still takes patience, precision, and a bit of strength to get your dog to sit still and swallow the right amount. Here, how to make the medicine go down easier.

The Basics

Liquid medications are prescribed to treat a variety of conditions. Some medicines that are usually prescribed as pills or capsules can be changed, or compounded, to a liquid formulation for easier administration. If you have trouble giving your dog pills, ask your veterinarian if compounding is possible.

Follow Recommendations

It’s important to use only medicines prescribed by a veterinarian and to treat for the full length of time prescribed. Don’t stop treatment early, even if the problem seems to be resolved. You can ask your veterinarian to demonstrate how to give the medicine.

Technique

Liquid medications should come with a dropper or syringe for administration. Fill the dropper or syringe with the prescribed amount of medicine. Holding your dog’s head still with one hand, insert the tip of the dropper or syringe into a corner of the mouth, between the cheek and the teeth, aiming toward the back of your dog’s head.

  • Do not tilt your dog’s head back; this may cause him to inhale the medicine. Squeeze the dropper or depress the syringe plunger to empty it.
  • Hold your dog’s mouth closed and stroke his throat or blow on his nose to encourage swallowing.
  • Reward your dog with a treat approved by your veterinarian.

Restraining Your Dog

You may need help keeping your dog still while you administer medicine. If you don’t have a helper handy, you may want to sit on the floor and hold the front of your dog’s body partially against your body or on your lap. If you have a large dog, you can stand behind your dog and have him sit back against your legs. Sometimes it helps to back your dog into a corner.

Small dogs can be wrapped in a large towel and held against your body, leaving only the head free. Be sure not to wrap your small dog too tightly.

If your dog struggles, talk to him calmly and stop administering the medicine if he becomes extremely agitated. Contact your veterinarian if you have questions or run into any problems.


This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.

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