How to Give Your Lab Medication
Even with the best of care, most dogs experience illness at some point in their lives. When that happens, they'll more than likely have to take pills or liquid medications, or be treated with drops or ointments for their eyes or ears. As smart as Labs are, you can't train them to take their medications as needed, so the task of administering them falls on you. Knowing the best way to give a pill, get liquids down the throat, or apply topical medications will help ensure that your Lab gets better faster.
Pills and Liquids
The easiest way to give a pill is to hide it inside something yummy. Cream cheese, peanut butter, canned dog food, soft cheese, and liverwurst are all good candidates for this method. Most Labs swallow the doctored food so fast that they don't even notice the pill going down. Before you try this method, check with the veterinarian to make sure it's okay to give the pill with food. Some medications work best on an empty stomach.
The most important thing to know about giving medication is that your Lab needs all of it, even if he seems to be better before the medication is used up. To ensure a complete recovery, give all of the medication prescribed instead of saving it “for the next time.”
If your Lab refuses the pill or must take his medicine without food, you'll need to make a bit more of an effort. Holding the pill in your dominant hand, gently pry the mouth open by using one thumb to press upward on the roof of the mouth and the other to press down on the lower jaw. Slip the pill in and place it on the back of the tongue. Close the mouth and rub the throat to encourage swallowing. After giving your Lab a pill, see if he licks his nose. If he does, that means he's swallowed the pill.
When your Lab needs liquid medications, a plastic syringe (the kind without a needle) or eyedropper is your best friend. Draw the required amount of medicine into the syringe and place the delivery end into the pouch formed by the cheeks. Hold the lips closed with your fingers and slowly press the plunger to dispense the liquid.
If you aren't able to get the medicine into your Lab this way, ask the veterinarian if you can mix the medicine with the dog's food. This method has drawbacks, however. Many dogs are suspicious of any food that tastes or smells unusual. It's also a less accurate way of giving medication, because you can't be sure the dog has ingested all of it. Using a syringe to give medicine to a squirming dog can be difficult, but a little practice will turn you into a master.
Eye/Ear Drops and Ointments
Eye drops are usually dispensed straight from the bottle. Hold the bottle in one hand, and tilt the dog's muzzle skyward with the other. Squeeze the required number of drops into the eye. Try not to touch the applicator tip to the dog's eye.
To apply ointment to the eyes, hold the head still with one hand, using your thumb to pull the lower eyelid down. With the ointment applicator in your dominant hand, slowly squeeze out a line of ointment. Release the eyelid and close the eye, gently rubbing the surface to distribute the ointment. If possible, ask someone to help you hold the dog still, so you run less risk of poking him in the eye with the applicator.
Ear medications often come in plastic bottles with long applicators to help ensure that the treatment gets deep into the ear. To avoid spreading infection, use separate applicators if you're treating more than one dog. It may cost a little more up front, but you'll save time and money by not having to treat repeated infections.
Pull the ear up over the dog's head with your left hand and hold the head still. (Reverse this if you're left-handed.) Insert the nozzle or medicine dropper into the ear and dispense the appropriate amount. Your Lab will try to shake his head, but don't let him. Massage the cartilage at the base of the ear to make sure the medication is well distributed. Then your dog can shake.