Getting your dog to take eye drops can be quite challenging while also scary for your dog. Violet is a Saint Bernard who hates to be touched. She does not like her teeth and gums checked, she refuses to let anyone look into her ears, and her eyes grow wide with fear if her owners or veterinarian get near them. Unfortunately for Violet and those who care for her, she scratched her eye playing outside one day. Violet is a pretty cautious dog with little bravado and only enough curiosity to see the world from a safe distance. But when her backyard adventures involved meeting the thin branch of a bush, Violet required eye drops to help the healing process and rid her eye of infection. Violet’s owners were faced with the challenge of getting the dog who did not like to be touched to sit still long enough to take the important medication her eyes needed.
You will want to be prepared with instructions and the dosage for the eye drops your dog requires. Be familiar with this information in advance, so you are not figuring it out as your dog is anxious and waiting.
A special treat or several treats will help entice and reward your dog.
The first method requires a clicker. If you click train your dog other tricks, you may want to use a clicker no matter which method you choose.
Budee has been diagnosed with pannus. She is a rescue. We have had her for 2 yrs. We are really having issues trying to get drops in her eyes. I am 76 and my husband is 80. Budee weighs 43 lbs and is very smart. She wiggles her way out from us, will bury her head or will run and hide. Our vet hasn't really given us a method which works and we have tried every way suggested on line. We don't want her to go blind. Any suggestions to help us?
Hello Patti, First practice sitting Budee in front of your refrigerator, facing the refrigerator door, and sitting behind her so that she is between your legs with her back toward you, then have the other person smear a tiny bit of Peanut Butter on the fridge for her to lick off. Repeat this at different times throughout the day until she is relaxed or happy when you do this. Only use a small bit of peanut butter each time though so that too much of the fat does not make her sick. After the third time doing this, right before you dab the peanut butter on the fridge, reach over her head from behind her and gently pull back her eye lid just a little bit, and while you are touching it immediately have the other person give her more peanut butter to lick so that she is focusing on that instead of your hand. Remove your hand quickly after lifting the eyelid the first few times that you practice this. As she improves you can hold her eyelid back for a bit longer while you feed her. Repeat touching her eyelid and rewarding her, until she starts to like your hand touching her there because it means you will give her more peanut butter. At the same time that you are practicing all of that have other training sessions where you get some of Budee's dog food, or treats that will not make her sick if she does not love her dog food, and show her the drops bottle and then give her a treat for looking at it. Repeat this until she likes seeing the drops bottle, but do not use the drops on her yet. When you have gotten her used to being gently touched on the eye lid while in front of the fridge, and used to seeing the drops bottle, then sit her in front of the fridge again, with her back to you, and this time when you pull her eyelid back a little bit, hold the bottle over her eye but do not touch her eye with it or get it too close. Squeeze a drop into her eye from above her so that at least part of it lands in her eye. You might have to do this a couple of times before the drop lands in her eye. The second that the drop lands in her eye give her several dabs of peanut butter in a row and praise him. If she tries to leave then let her, but stay over there with the peanut butter to see if she will come back to receive more peanut butter for sitting with you. If she does, then repeat touching her eyelid again and feeding her more peanut butter but do not do any more drops right then. Wait until you have worked with just the bottle and touching her eyelid again several times before attempting the drops again. This is to prevent her from becoming overwhelmed. Once she is used to the drops, then practice rewarding her with the peanut butter by the fridge whenever you do the drops, also continue to practice this without the drops, with the bottle and treats and the eyelid touching separately. If she ever gets to the point where she likes the drops and does not just tolerate them, then you no longer need to practice without the drops also, but your main goal is for her to calmly tolerate the drops. She might never like them and that is okay as long as she will calmly accept them. When you do the drops also be careful not to get the bottle too close to her eye because that alone might make her nervous. That is why you are going to drop the liquid into her eye while you are holding her eyelid back. Also, if there is a chance of you becoming injured if she jumps away when you first try this, then see if you can get someone to come to your home and work on this with her, until Budee will accept it calmly enough for you to do it to her regularly without her freaking out. Also when you do this, as hard as it might be, try to sounds happy, upbeat, confident, and even silly. Like your dog is receiving the most wonderful, ample prize in the world. If your dog thinks that she is getting something extravagant that is an extra special treat she is less likely to feel afraid and act defensively while you are doing the whole process. Do not act apologetic if possible. For example, when I have to give my dogs pills, I have the dog do a trick first to earn it to make the pill seem like a special treat that the dog has just won, and the dogs eat it so quickly that they hardly even realize what they ate. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
Those instructions sound reassuring and I feel a ray of hope. But I would like to know if that has worked for y’all. I hope so!! Thank you.
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Winston has dry eyes. When he was about a year old the vet prescribed drops but gave no instructions telling us it was easy to just come up behind our dog and administer the drops. Prior to this he was a sweet normal dog. When I first gave the drops Winston was resistant from the start, soon began growling and wiggling. My partner restrained him and unfortunately held him tight. That lead to Winston’s resistance escalating to the point of being very aggressive snarling and biting. He bit both of us several times-hard. For days we tried to entice him with treats and attempts to calm him. No good. So each morning we drove to our trusted groomer/boarder who had no problem giving him the drops as Winston was accustomed to James grooming him. Since dry eyes is a chronic condition we’ve dealt with this for another two years. It is so discouraging. For a while I succeeded by sneaking up on him napping and cuddled a minute then tilted his head and got one or two drops in before he’d squirm away. Gave a treat. He caught on to this after a few weeks and now bolts when I attempt it again. Please help me. I love Winston but now he is often hesitant even to cuddle or runs off when I beckon him. I am very sad and discouraged.
Hello Cheryl, Check out this article for Dr. Yin's method of getting dogs to accept drops. She uses a fake bottle at first to keep the real bottle from getting contaminated (if you have any of Winston's empty eye drop bottles or empty human eye drop bottles use that). Once the dog is comfortable being around the drop bottle, being touched around the eye, and having the bottle held over their face for 3-5 seconds, switch to the real bottle. https://www.visioncareforanimals.com/articles/2013/6/8/how-to-get-eye-drops-into-the-eye-instead-of-on-the-face When he is ready to be given the real drops and comfortable around the bottle again, you can also make the process of actually giving the drops a little more pleasant by smearing some peanut butter inside an empty yogurt cup or small container and tilting the container up a bit so that your dog's eye is easy to get to. At this point he should be comfortable being touched and having the drop bottle held about his head from Dr. Yin's method and you can drop the drops into his eye while he licks the yogurt container. You would obviously need two people for this part. You might be able to creat something that holds the yogurt container in place for you though - if you need to do this on your own or he is more comfortable with only one person being there. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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