Nobody likes taking medicine. Usually, it does not taste particularly good, and while you may understand the reason for taking a noxious tasting substance, your dog does not. When faced with taking a foul-tasting liquid medicine, the reason for which they have no way of understanding, your dog may prove uncooperative. That being said, many pet owners find liquid medication easier to administer than pills, which an uncooperative dog may manipulate out of their mouth. Some pills can be substituted for a liquid form, or sometimes pills can be dissolved in water and administered with a syringe if this is easier for pet owners. Handling a liquid medication so that the correct dosage is administered, and mess and spillage are avoided, requires some precautions, and technique. Read on for effective tips to administer your dog liquid medication.
Read the instructions on any liquid medication thoroughly. Does it need to be refrigerated? Stored away from sunlight? Can it be administered with food? Understand the dosage for your dog, and make sure that you have an appropriate applicator. Many liquid medications are administered with a syringe or dropper. Liquid medications often should be shaken before administering to ensure that they are correctly mixed, as contents of a liquid suspension can settle to the bottom of their container.
Sneak It In
The easiest way to administer liquid medication is to mix the appropriate dosage with some canned food. A small amount of food should be used to ensure that your dog takes all the medication, and no food and medication is remaining. First, you need to establish that the medication can be administered with food. If other pets are present, you will need to separate them to make sure that only the intended recipient of the medication receives the dosage. Also, you will need to watch your dog to make sure they consume all the treated food and medication.
Take the Direct Route
If your dog will not take the medication in food, or if the medication cannot be administered with food, it will need to be administered directly.
To directly administer liquid medication you will need to:
- Draw the appropriate dosage into the dosing syringe, be careful to ensure you understand and have the correct dosage in the syringe.
- If refrigerated, you may want to warm medication in your hand, or put the syringe or applicator in warm water, or allow it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes to warm up medication if your dog finds this more palatable. Do not microwave, as this can negatively affect the medication.
- Put your dog in an area where they are comfortable and you have room to work. Have medication prepared and ready to reach.
- If possible, have someone assist you to position your dog, and if necessary, restrain them by backing them up against a wall or wrapping a small dog in a towel or blanket.
- Carefully pull your dog's lower lip away from their teeth, behind the canine teeth, so that a pouch is created.
- Put the tip of the syringe into this pouch pointing towards the back of the head and behind the canine teeth, and gently insert the applicator syringe past the tooth line.
- Be careful to watch for signs your dog is agitated, as this can cause them to move and medicine to be spilled. Or, because of the positioning of your hand beside the mouth, you can receive a bite or nip from a stressed dog. If your dog becomes agitated, calm them and work quietly and quickly to accomplish your task.
- Depress the plunger of the syringe to dispense liquid into the oral cavity of your dog.
- Ensure you advanced the syringe slowly enough to give the dog time to swallow the medicine, and avoid them spitting it out. Do not tilt the dog's head back, as this can cause them to inhale medication and choke.
- Close your dog's mouth shut to avoid your pooch spitting out medication, and hold closed until they swallow. You can blow on the dog's nose, or stroke their throat to encourage them to swallow.
- If your dog spits out some of the medication, do not remediate as you cannot determine the exact amount expelled and guessing could result in overdose. Most canine dosages account for some medication being spit or spilled.
- Give your dog a treat afterward, if permitted with medication.
- Wash the syringe between dosages to remove bacteria from the oral cavity and residual medication.
- Wash your hands after handling your dog’s oral cavity.
Finding the Best Technique
Liquid medications may be easier to administer to some dogs than pills are. Owners should always be sure to read all instructions with the medication to be sure they understand handling and dosage instructions. Having help, and administering medication in an environment where medication is easily accessible, and it is easy to handle your dog, will help the process. Liquid medication can often be administered in appetizing canned food, or with a syringe or dropper. If administered directly, it can be inserted into a pouch created at the rear of the dog's mouth by pulling the lip away from the gum line, and inserting the applicator past the teeth and squeezing the applicator to dispense medication. A little practice and patience usually results in successful administration of liquid medications and treating your dog afterward will make it a more pleasant experience for them.