Giving Liquid Medication to Dogs

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

Care & Wellness, Pet Services

The easiest way to give your dog a liquid medication is to use a treat specially designed for this purpose or mix it with some canned food. To ensure your dog swallows the medication, it is best to hand feed the medicated food or treat, rather than mixing it into a large portion that the dog may not completely consume.

Some dogs may be unwilling to eat medicated food or may have dietary restrictions that prevent you from using this technique. If this is the case, you will need to administer the medication directly into your dog's mouth.

Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Gently shake or mix the liquid medication prior to drawing it into the dosing syringe. Have the medication prepared and easily accessible. If the medication was refrigerated, you may want to warm it up by holding the syringe tightly in your hand for a minute or two or by placing it in a warm water bath. DO NOT MICROWAVE THE MEDICATION.

Place your dog in a safe and comfortable area where it can be easily handled. It is easiest to give liquid medication if you have a second person available to help you.

Place the tip of the syringe in the mouth, just behind one of the canine teeth ("fangs"), and advance the tip so that it is in the slight gap between the canine tooth and the pre-molars behind the canine tooth. Be sure to angle the syringe slightly to the side so that the tip of the syringe deposits the medication onto the tongue.

"Many dogs will spit out some of the medication. Do NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was swallowed."

Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the dog has time to swallow the liquid and breathe normally.

Many dogs will spit out some of the medication. Do NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was swallowed. Your veterinarian will have accounted for a small amount of loss when calculating the required dose of medication for your pet.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat or extra playtime after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time. After each use, rinse the dropper or syringe thoroughly with water and refrigerate the remaining medication if necessary.

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