The last time I gave my cat eye drops, I chased her around the house for an hour and a half before I finally gave up and accepted that I would always be the worst pet owner in the world. Drops in the eye are a traumatic experience for some animals. It’s hardly any wonder because it’s a traumatic experience for some humans, too.
If you’ve ever struggled to get drops actually in your pet’s eyes (rather than somewhere around them), you need to read this guide. I’m about to make life much simpler for you.
- Are Eye Drops Safe to Use on Pets
- How to Correctly Administer Eye Drops to Your Pet
- Teach and Treat
- The Easiest Way to Put Eye Drops In
- How to Effectively Clean Your Pet Eyes
- Is It Safe to Use Human Eye Drops on Pets
Are Eye Drops Safe to Use on Pets
Yes, eye drops are safe to use on pets, provided they’re prescribed or recommended by a vet or other pet healthcare professional.
Stop Googling - Ask a Real Vet
You can buy eye drops for your dog, cat, or other pet online and in some pet stores without a prescription from your vet. Although these are usually safe to use, it’s still recommended to chat with a pet care professional before administering them. Using the wrong product can make a condition worse or cause other problems.
Allergic reactions to eyedrops and other products can be emergencies, requiring urgent medical attention. This is something covered by the Petcube Emergency Fund, which gives you up to $3,000 of emergency pet care per year for situations just like it.
How to Correctly Administer Eye Drops to Your Pet
You have three options when it comes to administering eye drops to your pet:
- Get a vet to do it for you (likely costing a fee);
- Trick your pet and do it yourself;
- Train your pet to accept eye drops patiently.
If you trick your pet into a position where you can get eye drops into their eyes, you’ll create distrust. Your pet may grow accustomed to the tricks you use, making it more and more difficult to administer the drops.
It is best to approach eye drops in the same way that you would approach any other trick you want to teach. Cats have learned to use an actual toilet. Dogs have learned to dance, sing, save people, find things and people, and much more. They, and other pets, can learn to accept eye drops patiently. Sort-of. Mostly. (Some pets are just the way they are, right?)
Teach and Treat
One of the absolute best things you can do to make life easier is teach your pet to associate the eye drops with treats and praise. Let your pet see, sniff, and get accustomed to the bottle or tube of eye drops or ointment. When they’re brave and comfortable around it, give them a treat. They’ve done an excellent job.
Open the bottle or tube, squeeze it a tiny bit, and let your pet sniff the treatment. They’ll need to get used to the scent because it’s not exactly pleasant. Once again, if they are calm and patient and don’t run away, reward them with a treat and praise.
Apply this teach-and-treat process to all aspects of the eyedrop task, breaking it down into smaller chunks. The next step will be to command them to sit in front of you. After that, get your pet comfortable with you touching their eyes. Hold the bottle with the lid on, above your pet’s eye(s). Treat them once they’re comfortable with it.
The last step is, of course, dropping the solution into the eyes, which you’ll reward with a big treat and plenty of praise.
The Easiest Way to Put Eye Drops In
Once you have managed to get your pet comfortable in front of you and calm with the bottle held over their eyes, it’s time to drip those drops in.
Praise your pet as you use one or two fingers plus a thumb to gently hold the eye open. Talk as you do this, calmly and in soothing tones.
Bring the bottle of eye drops into your pet’s line of vision so they know what’s coming. Don’t sneak it up on them because this will invoke fear and stress. Calmly, quickly, and with a steady hand, drop the recommended number of drops into the open eye.
Don’t let the tip of the bottle touch your pet’s eye. It will irritate the eyeball, stress your pet out, hurt their eye(s), and undo all the arduous work you’ve put in.
How to Effectively Clean Your Pet Eyes
It’s important to keep your eyes on your pet’s eyes because problems in that area can be a symptom of other, more serious health conditions that you may not have noticed or diagnosed. If you spot unusual eye-based activity on your interactive pet camera, for example, tell your vet what’s been going on so they can tell you whether or not further medical assistance is necessary.
It’s recommended to give pets, especially dogs, a good eye bath and wash at least once per month. Dogs that are more active outside or get dirty regularly often need more frequent washes than that. Dog-safe eyewash products are available online and in-store and your vet can point you in the right direction.
Cleaning around the eyes is just as important as using an eye bath. Some dogs will need more frequent around-eye cleanses than others, especially if they have dark staining and tear marks.
Use water that is room temperature or just slightly warmer (never hot) and a soft sponge or piece of cotton wool. Avoid harsh materials, such as flannels or rough towels, as they can irritate the area further.
Dunk the cotton wool or sponge into the water, then gently rub it around the eyes of your dog. Remove any eye boogers, bits of other gunk, dirt, etc.
Is It Safe to Use Human Eye Drops on Pets
No, human eye drops are not recommended for use on pets. Many human products are made with ingredients that are either not safe to use on pets or haven’t been assessed for pet use. Essentially, they may not be safe and can cause more harm than good.
Your vet may recommend a specific brand of eye drops that are made for humans, but this will be because the formula is safe.
Do not use human eye drops (or any other treatments or medications) on pets unless a licensed professional, such as a vet, has directed you to do so.
When does a dog need eye drops?
Unless your pooch has a medical problem that requires eye drops, there’s no real need for them. Book an appointment with your vet if you have any concerns.
Are eye drops safe for dogs?
Yes, they are... provided they’ve been prescribed or recommended by a professional with access to your pet’s full medical history. Just like humans, dogs can have allergies to common eyedrop ingredients. A vet can recommend a product that is perfectly matched to your pup's specific needs.
Giving pets medication can be a tough challenge when it’s orally administered, but when it’s something more complex, such as eye drops, the challenge can seem almost impossible. These simple tricks will hopefully make life a lot easier for you, but remember: you can always ask Petcube’s 24/7 vets for more advice.