Medical Relief for the Dog

From time to time, your dog may need some medication to treat a health problem. Although some drugs are administered as injections by your vet, most will need t be given at home, and your dog will be calling on you to perform the honors. If she is going to get better, it’s important that she takes the medications exactly as your vet has prescribed and that the entire prescription is used, even when it’s obvious she’s feeling a whole lot better after just a few doses. The medications won’t do their job if you don’t give them exactly as prescribed.

Giving Medications:
There’s no point in telling your dog to swallow a pill because it’s going to be good for her. She’s heard that line before. Besides, she’s already sniffed the thing and she knows it going to make her taste buds feel a whole lot worse.

You’re definitely going to have to work on your beside manner if you want to do better than that. If your dog is very well trained and used to being handled, then of course giving her medications will be easier than if she’s never had a lesson in her life. But even the best-behaved dogs can find medicine a tough pill to swallow. Here are a few tips on how to make that medicine go down.

Popping Pills:
Some oral medications taste great and your dog will beg you for more. But in most cases, you’ll be delivering a capsule or a pill that does not taste or look like a treat and yet you need to administer it several times a day, without fail. Whenever possible, take the easy way out. If you can disguise the medicine inside something that is a treat, such a piece of cheese, some peanut butter or even a cocktail weenie, and your dog takes it without a fuss, you’ve won the battle.
If she is not so easily fooled or if she’s caught on to your little game, you may decide simply to take the shortest distance between two point – in this instance, between your hand and her stomach, but it does take a little practice.

The method most often recommended by vets is to point your dog’s nose toward the ceiling with your hand over it to steady the snout. Keeping the nose pointed upward, use your other hand to pull open her lower jaw and then pop that baby right at the back of her throat. Most vets follow the pill with two of their fingers to initiate a gag response and a swallow from the dog, but you might feel more comfortable just closing her mouth.

After the pill goes in, keep your dog’s nose pointed upward and massage her throat until you see her neck move in a swallowing motion. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security, though. Many a dog will fake the swallow, and then regurgitate the medicine behind the sofa when you’re not looking. So watch her closely until you’re sure it’s gone down.

Pouring Liquids:
When giving your dog liquid medicines, avoid spills by putting the medicine in a dropper or syringe – most dogs won’t want to use a spoon. Tip her nose up toward the ceiling, with your hand steadying the snout. Insert the syringe or dropper into the lip fold at the side of her mouth and slowly squeeze in the liquid, giving your dog plenty of opportunity to swallow. This isn’t the same “pitch it in” approach you’d use for capsules or tablets. You don’t want to give the liquid too fast or too much at a time, because she may breathe it into her lungs.

Giving Eye Drops:
You can be sure your dog isn’t going to like eye drops, but when they’re needed, they often have to be given throughout the day, sometimes every three to four hours. This is a good job for two people, if you can get someone to help. One person can sit your dog down and gently keep her head still, pointing her nose toward the ceiling. The second person can be in charge of rolling back your dog’s upper eyelid and getting the drops into her eye.

If you need to do this procedure alone, and you probably will at times, you will need gentle but firm control. Put your dog in a “Sit” position and, approaching from the front, use one hand to roll back the upper eyelid gently with your thumb and apply the drops to her eye with your other hand.

If your pet is tad more skittish, put her in a “Sit” position and kneel down beside her. Extend your arm gently around her neck as if you’re going to apply a headlock. Cup her chin in the palm of your hand and tilt her head back until her nose is pointing to the ceiling. Use your other hand to apply the number of drops, as recommended, to each eye.

Giving Ear Drops:
If you have no problems with tablets, liquids and eye drops, administering ear drops will be a piece of cake. But be very careful what you’re putting into those ears. Ear drops are not always safe especially for dogs that may have other, undiagnosed problems, such as a perforated eardrum. Ingredients found in some over – the – counter medications can cause deafness if they trickle down into the inner ear.

To be safe, it’s a good idea to check with your vet before putting anything stronger than a mild saltwater solution into your pet’s ears. Then, to put the drops in, gently grasp an ear flap and introduce the correct number of drops into the vertical canal. Fold the flap over and massage the ear gently. Now repeat on her other ear.

If there is a lot of debris in the canal, don’t bother. Instead, check with your vet about how to proceed, because no ear medication will get to where it will do the most good if the vertical ear canal isn’t completely clear.

Also, be aware that some ear medicines contain alcohol. If your dog has any sores in her ears, these products could launch her into orbit. That not only won’t fix the problem, but your dog will become “head shy” and be unlikely to trust you with ears again. So be extra careful with this very delicate part of her anatomy.

Feeding for Relief:
A sick dog will often need a change in diet until she’s feeling better. After all, if she’s been vomiting or having diarrhea, her digestive tract will need some quiet time to recover. In most cases, that means a rest from food for 6 to 12 hours. It’s also important to make sure she keeps up her water intake, unless she’s vomiting. After that, stick to a bland diet, such as boiled chicken or beef with rice, until her intestines recover and signs of the stomach upset have disappeared.

It’s not only digestive complaints that may require changes in her diet. Dogs with heart disease may be put on a low – salt diet. Dogs with kidney disease are typically given a diet with small amounts of high-quality protein.

Your vet will be able to recommend a diet from more than a dozen prescription diets for such varied problems as obesity, gum disease, and more serious health concerns, such as urinary tract “stones” and even cancer.