So the situation goes something like this: you come home from the vets after hearing the news your pooch has an ear infection. According to the vet, he’ll need ear drops twice a day for the next two weeks.
Now, that sounds all perfectly good and do-able until you come to actually putting ear drops in your dogs’ ears. That’s when things get a little … tricky.
Let me just get one thing straight. No dog likes ear drops, but some are easier to deal with than others. If you have an uncooperative dog that goes berserk when you try dripping medication into his ears, you may want to try these useful tips.
Scroll down to find out how you can administer ear drops to your dog without getting barked at or bitten. Here are 12 tips that might just help!
#1: Touch, Treat, Repeat
One reason your dog freaks out when you try giving him ear drops might be because he’s too sensitized to ear touching. Not all dogs like their ears being touched, so going in there with liquid makes the reaction all the more unpleasant. The best way to approach this is by desensitizing him to ear touches.
Get a bowl of his favorite treats. It could be anything he loves — chicken, sausages, or meatballs. Cut his treats into small bite-sized pieces so you can easily feed them to him. Then, sit down in front of him, gently touching his ear for a brief couple of seconds before giving him his first treat. Repeat the process, moving to the other ear.
This strategy involves familiarizing him with the sensations of ear touching. Once your dog connects the dots and sees that if he lets you touch his ear he gets something tasty in exchange, administering those ear drops should be a piece of cake.
When he’s comfortable with you touching his ears for a few brief seconds, try extending the touching time. You could try massaging them for 10-15 seconds to see how he reacts, followed by giving him a treat.
If he seems okay with that, pick up the tip of his ear flap, show him the dropper, and then drop it in. Once again, show him he did good by giving him a treat. The key with this strategy is patience.
#2: Gently Restrain
If your dog tries to bite when cleaning ears or applying ear drops, a useful tactic is gentle restraint. In other words, holding him on a leash while you do it.
Kneeling on the floor, position your dog between your legs with his head facing forward and hold his collar with one hand. Slide the eardrop nozze into one of his ears using your other hand, and repeat on the second ear. Once you’re done, be sure to give him a treat and lots of praise to show him what a good boy he was.
Ask a friend or loved one for help if you struggle. A second pair of hands always makes things a lot easier. This way, you can have one person holding him and the other one giving him the drops.
If you struggle restraining him, ask your veterinarian to do it instead.
#3: Wear Him Out First
Another way to simplify the process of giving your dog ear drops is by wearing him out beforehand. Take him for a long walk, play and jump around with him, or let him run around the garden. Do anything that will wear him out and prevent him from lashing out or trying to run off when putting ear drops in.
When he’s tired, he’s more docile, and ultimately more open to letting you medicate his ears.
#4: Put a Muzzle On
Wondering how to give aggressive dog ear drops? If your dog gets really angry and tries to bite when you play around his ear area, for your own safety, make him wear a fitted muzzle.
He only needs to wear it for a few minutes, and it’ll drastically cut your chances of getting bitten. If your dog is snapping at you even when applying the muzzle, it is best to take him to a veterinarian for further assistance. You don’t want to end up getting hurt. Don’t take the risk if you know your dog can be aggressive. You’ll be putting yourself and those around you at risk.
#5: Warm the Medication
Be honest, would you be happy having something cold dripped into your ears? Wouldn’t you prefer it if the mixture was a nice, lukewarm temperature to save the shock? You may be able to make things a little more comfortable for your pooch by gently warming the refrigerated medication in a bowl of warm water for several minutes.
Consult with your veterinarian before warming any medication. Do not microwave or over-heat the medication to prevent it from losing its therapeutic effects.
Gently warming ear drop medication can make things a little more comfortable for your dog, and take a little more stress out of the administration process for you.
#6: Squeeze it from a Cotton Ball
Does your dog see the bottle and run? Okay, so maybe he doesn’t react that quickly, but if you notice it’s the bottle he’s scared of, you may want to consider applying the ear drops using another tool — the humble cotton ball.
Saturate a cotton ball in the eye drop solution, then simply squeeze it into your dog’s ear. This way, you can quite literally go to give him a cuddle and he won’t be able to see your attempts to put something in his ear. You can hide it in the cusp of your hand.
Of course, if this method doesn’t work, you’ll need to train your dog to adjust to ear drops dispensed from a bottle or tube. He needs to get the adequate amount of solution to properly treat his infection, so avoid using the cotton ball method if nothing ends up in his ears. You’ll only end up jeopardizing his recovery.
#7: Let Him Lick
If you’re working with a younger dog or pup (especially a motivated one!, he’ll barely notice you administering those ear drops when he has something tasty in front of him to lick. You can actually get special lick pats and sticks to swerve their attention elsewhere.
Give him a few seconds to get him into his licking, then go in with the ear drops. Make sure you give him something nourishing and equally tasty to lick like peanut butter or beef stock.
This’ll keep his mind off what you’re doing, while giving him plenty of nutrients to keep him fit and healthy.
#8: Chill Him Out
Your dog really needs to be in a state of chill to accept ear drops being dropped into his ears. The best way to do this is by taking him to a place that’s calm and relaxing. Avoid taking him somewhere noisy, as this will only stress him out.
Then, spend a few minutes cuddling him, talking to him in a soothing voice, and even massaging him. The key here is to get him to calm down and relax. You want him to enter chill mode before you administer the ear drops.
If you’ve had your dog a while now, you should know what relaxes him. When he gets frustrated, what is it you do to calm him down? Apply that method when giving him ear medication.
When he’s calm and ready, you can gently apply the ear drops swiftly and easily. It should only take a couple of minutes, max. Relax him enough, and he’ll hardly notice.
#9: Make a Game Out of It
Maybe you’ve just been approaching this in completely the wrong way. Instead of treading carefully around your pooch, perhaps you should try making a game out of it so he sees it as something fun rather than something negative.
For starters, you could try singing a song to your dog and playing fetch with him. Turn a negative experience into something positive.
Rather than sitting him down and restraining him, sing, massage, and play with him before going in with the droppers. Alternatively, get him to follow you to the fridge so you can give your dog his favorite treat while bending down and administering the solution, one by one. Your dog should excitedly follow you with curiosity, believing it to all be a game.
Feel free to bring in someone else and make it a 2-person, 1-dog game. Your dog will have so much fun getting his ear drops administered!
#10: Hide the Bottle
Often, the biggest error you can make when it comes to giving dogs ear drops is letting him see the bottle. Once he sees that bottle, he’ll become fixated on it. His whole attention will divert to that little tube of solution, and he won’t let you put it anywhere near his ears.
The solution? Hide the bottle from him. Stroke his head and ears. Then start massaging them gently, while secretly holding the bottle in the cusp of your hand. Once he’s totally chill, ever so gently lift up the flap of his ear and quickly drip in the solution. Repeat with the other ear.
If this doesn’t work the first time around, try repeating the process. You need to be patient in order for this to work. Don’t give up too soon.
#11: Be Prepared
When giving any animal medication, it’s vital to be prepared. That means having all the things you need within reach and measured properly ready for administering.
When you’re not prepared, your dog knows it. You’ll end up drawing out the process in search of your things, prolonging the misery for your dog and causing him to act out in response.
So, create a little area with all your essentials, prep your dog, and begin. It’ll make things so much easier and way less stressful for your furry pal.
#12: Be Quick
Dogs don’t like being restrained for too long. For that reason, it’s best to be as quick as possible when applying ear drops. Once your dog is in position, pull up his ear, dispense the ear drop, then massage it gently. It should only take a matter of seconds. Repeat the process in the other ear.
Once you’ve administered the ear drop, treat your dog to something nice and tasty so that he’ll associate the experience with something positive – just in case there’s a next time.
In the meantime, good luck!