Applying Eye Drops to Dogs

By Malcolm Weir, DVM, MSc, MPH; Ernest Ward, DVM

The proper administration of eye medications is essential for your pet's prompt recovery. Make sure you have carefully read the medication label and understand the prescription instructions. If you have any questions, contact your veterinarian prior to administering any medication.

Wash your hands both before and after administering the medication to prevent contamination and/or the potential spread of infection. Be sure to keep the eye medication's applicator tip clean and do not allow it to contact the dog, the surface of the eye or eyelids, or any other surface. If this occurs, clean the tip by wiping it off with a clean cloth and ask your veterinarian for specific cleaning instructions.

If your dog's eye is painful, you may require someone assist you with restraint or you may need to place a muzzle on your dog. Usually, as the medication begins to control the problem, the pain lessens and assistance becomes less necessary.

Here are some helpful tips and step-by-step instructions for administering eye drops:

  • Gently clean away any debris around the dog's eyes with warm water and a washcloth prior to administering the eye drops. This can be soothing and prepare your dog for administering the medication(s).
  • Hold the bottle using your thumb and index finger. You may want to rest this hand on the top of the dog's head for stability.
  • With your other hand, use your thumb to pull down the lower eyelid. The lower eyelid acts as a pouch to receive the drops. Place your remaining fingers under the dog's jaw to support the head.
  • Hold the bottle close to the eye but make sure you DO NOT touch the eye's surface.
  • Squeeze the prescribed number of drops directly onto the eyeball, aiming for the center of the eye.
  • Release your dog's head.
  • Your dog will blink, spreading the medication over the surface of the eye.

It is common for dogs to blink or paw at the eye after administering the drops. If this persists or if the eye appears more inflamed or red after administration of the medication, consult with your veterinarian. Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat when you are finished. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time.

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