Mastering the Art of Administering Medication to Your Dog


Administering medication to dogs is a vital part of ensuring their health and wellbeing. The idea of giving medicine to a dog can initially seem challenging, but with the correct knowledge and a gentle touch, it can be done effectively. Due to the many different types of medications, there are a wide range of techniques involved.

Oral Administration

One of the most common methods of administering medication is orally, which can be done using tablets, capsules, or liquid medicine. 

Concealing in Treats: Tablets and capsules can often be hidden in treats or food. Many Border Collie breeders like to get special edible pockets that are available in pet stores that can conceal the medicine, making it a fuss-free and enjoyable method. 

Pill Dispensers: There are specially designed pill dispensers that can aid in placing the tablet or capsule at the back of the dog’s throat, reducing the likelihood of rejection.

Liquid Medication: For liquid medication, use a dropper or a syringe without a needle. Aim for the pocket between the dog’s cheek and teeth, and administer the liquid slowly, allowing the dog to swallow. Following up with a favourite treat can help make this a positive experience.

Topical Medication Application

Topical medications are applied directly to the dog’s skin or fur and are used for various skin conditions or external parasites. Here’s how to make the process more efficient:

Cleaning: Ensure that the area is clean and dry before application. Use a mild soap and water, and pat the area dry gently.

Distraction: Have a second person or a toy to distract the dog while you apply the medication.

Elizabethan Collar: Use an Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from licking or scratching the area post-application until the medication is absorbed.

Administering Injections

In certain medical conditions, injections become a necessary method of administering medication to dogs. While typically done by veterinarians, some circumstances may require dog owners to administer injections at home. Insulin injections for diabetic dogs are a common example. 

Proper Training: Before attempting to administer injections at home, ensure you receive thorough training from your veterinarian. They can demonstrate the correct technique, including the angle and depth at which to administer the injection, and which areas of the body are safest for injections. It’s crucial to understand how to properly handle and dispose of needles to ensure safety for both you and your pet.

Creating a Calm Environment: Choose a quiet, comfortable area for administering the injection to help keep your dog calm. Speak to your dog in a soothing tone and maintain a calm demeanour throughout the process, as dogs can sense anxiety.

Assistance: If possible, have another person present to help hold your dog still during the injection. This will ensure a steady position, making the process safer and less stressful.

Cleanliness: Use an alcohol wipe to clean the area where the injection will be administered. This helps to prevent infection.

Correct Technique: Administer the injection as per the instructions provided by your veterinarian. The common techniques include subcutaneous (under the skin) and intramuscular (into the muscle) injections. Ensure the needle is inserted at the correct angle and depth, and the medication is administered slowly to ensure comfort and effectiveness.

Using Medicated Shampoos, Ear Drops, and Eye Drops

Medicated shampoos, ear drops, and eye drops are other forms of medication that may be prescribed to your dog. 

Medicated Shampoos:

Medicated shampoos are often prescribed for skin conditions or external parasites. 

Application: Wet your dog thoroughly before applying the medicated shampoo. Follow the instructions on the label regarding the quantity to use and how to apply it. Massage the shampoo gently into your dog’s skin and coat.

Waiting Time: Some medicated shampoos require a waiting period to allow the medication to work. Follow the instructions on the label regarding how long the shampoo should be left on before rinsing.

Rinsing: Rinse your dog thoroughly to remove all shampoo residue, as any leftover shampoo could irritate your dog’s skin.

Ear Drops:

Administration: Hold your dog’s head still and carefully administer the prescribed number of drops into the ear canal. It’s best to fold up the dog’s ear with your non-dominant hand so that you have a clear line of sight into the ear canal. 

Massage: Gently massage the base of your dog’s ear to help distribute the medication.

Shake Out: Allow your dog to shake their head after the medicine is administered, and wipe away any excess medication that drips out of the ear canal. 

Eye Drops:

Cleaning: Use a clean, soft cloth to gently wipe away any discharge from around your dog’s eye.

Administration: Hold your dog’s head steady and carefully squeeze the prescribed number of drops onto the eye. Avoid touching the dropper to the eye to prevent contamination.

Allow Blinking: Allow your dog to blink to help distribute the medication.

Dos and Don’ts for Successfully Giving Dogs Medication


  • Consult Your Veterinarian: Always consult with your veterinarian before administering any medication. Understand the dosage, frequency, and any possible side effects.
  • Follow Instructions: Adhere strictly to the medication instructions provided by the veterinarian or on the packaging.
  • Be Prepared: Have all necessary items ready – whether it’s a pill dispenser, a dropper, or treats for concealing medication.
  • Stay Calm: Keep a calm demeanour as dogs can sense your anxiety, which may make them nervous too.
  • Reward Your Dog: Offering a treat or extra affection can help make the medication process a positive experience for your dog.
  • Monitor Your Dog: Keep an eye on your dog for any adverse reactions or changes in behaviour post-medication. Report any concerns to your veterinarian immediately.


  • Avoid Force: Don’t force your dog’s mouth open or administer medication in a threatening manner as it can create a negative association and make future medication administration more difficult.
  • Don’t Rush: Take your time, especially when administering topical medications or injections, to ensure the medication is given correctly.
  • Avoid Alteration: Don’t crush or alter medication without consulting your veterinarian as it may change the medication’s effectiveness or cause adverse reactions.
  • Don’t Skip Doses: It’s crucial to follow the medication schedule prescribed by your veterinarian. Skipping doses can hinder the treatment process.

With the right techniques and a loving touch, administering medication to your dog can become a less daunting task, promoting a healthier and happier life for your furry companion.

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