Ned is a star.

Ned’s Weepy Peepers: Solving the Problem of Giving Eye Drops to Dogs (with Video)

Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

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Hi, I’m Dr. Karyn. Read my introduction to learn more about me and my five funny dogs, Poppy, Bailey, Kodah, Ned, and Fred.

Ned is tiny. I mean, tiny. Weighing less than 4 lbs (1.8kg to be exact), he gets away with things the other dogs wouldn’t dream of doing, because he’s so damn cute, even when he’s being naughty! Ned also has a problem that many pint-sized pups suffer with – his little weepy peepers. His eyes water almost constantly, and in his case, the reason for this is that his eyeballs are slightly too large for their sockets. In order to keep his eyes healthy and moist, his tear production increases, but because of the sharp angle between his eye and muzzle, the duct that drains those tears from the eye doesn’t work properly, and so the tears overflow onto his face. This isn’t strictly a problem, but it does mean that he gets tear staining on his cheeks which, without intervention, can often lead to skin scalding and dermatitis.

As part of Ned’s daily routine, I clean his eyes twice a day and apply a lubricating eye ointment at night. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.

I’m a pretty deft hand at medicating pets, and can usually manage to treat even the most resistant patients. However, when the head and body I’m trying to immobilize are smaller and more fragile than a newborn baby, I found myself failing miserably. And it made me wonder how many cat and dog owners I’d sent home with a bottle of eye drops and a confident smile had really struggled to successfully treat their pet’s eyes.

I admit, I had little patience when people said they “couldn’t get the eye drops in”, believing that they should have better control over their pets. Yes, I was that judgemental. But as more animals have entered my life, I have become much more tolerant and understanding of the obstacles faced by pet owners, and want to be able to share my experiences and techniques for successfully treating the most reluctant of patients.

Squeeze a 1cm strip of the eye ointment onto your finger.
To get started, squeeze a 1cm strip of the eye ointment onto your finger.

Ned’s Daily Eye Routine

After many failed attempts at trying to hold him still as I desperately hoped that at least one of the drops actually made it into his eye, I decided that I had to find a better way. What I had learned was that Ned really enjoyed having his eyelids wiped, so cleaning them wasn’t difficult at all. It was only when the bottle of eye drops approached his face that my sweet little boy turned into a raging piranha. So I swapped my bottle of eye drops for a tube of lubricating ointment and applied a small strip onto my finger. I then started by wiping the other fingers around his eye and over his eyelids, gradually applying the ointment between the eyelids in a sweeping motion.

Gently wipe the ointment between the eyelids with a sweeping motion.
Gently wipe the ointment between the eyelids with a sweeping motion.

Initially, he was a bit suspicious when the ointment hit the mark, but over time, he has actually come to enjoy the process; so much so that I can actually part the eyelids a little to make sure the ointment really goes in. Now, all I need to do is pick up the box of eye cleaner and Ned comes running for his mini pamper session.

But What If We Need To Give Eye Drops?

My new technique was working perfectly with the ointment, but there are plenty of eye treatments that only come as liquid drops, so I needed to come up with another plan. Again, I went back to the fact that he enjoys having his eyes cleaned and wiped, and used a cotton ball to adapt this technique to getting eye drops into his eyes. It meant using more of the bottle, but at least I would be getting it into the eye instead of all over his head.

Rub the eye with the same vigor as a mother would lick her pups.
Rub the eye with the same vigor as a mother would lick her pups.

By wetting a small piece of cotton wool with the eye drops, I was able to sweep the wool across the eyelids and squeeze the liquid between the eyes. True, it means that I can’t measure the number of drops exactly, but I feel this is a great compromise. He’s getting his eye drops, and not only is he not getting stressed, he’s actually enjoying the procedure.

Don’t believe me? Check out my video to see how you can use these same techniques to get eye drops into the most reluctant dog.

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