How Do I Apply Ointments and Creams to My Dog?

Most of will have a need at some time in our dog's life to apply an ointment or cream to our dog. At first glance it seems easy. Some problems may occur. What if my dog licks at the cream? What is he won't let me touch the area?

The best solution is bribery, bribery, bribery. Be patient, loving and give treats. Once you have applied the cream or ointment provide some real "me time" for your dog. A good walk, playing with a toy or some old fashion loving will do the trick.

Applying Ointments Creams and Lotions on Dogs

Author: Ernest Ward, DVM

Applying topical medications to your pet can sometimes be a challenge. The information provided in this handout may help make treating your pet easier - for both of you.

What is the difference between creams, ointments and lotions?

Creams are non-greasy. Ointments have an oily base. Lotions are liquid preparations. All are similar as far as application is concerned. Creams, ointments and lotions are for external use only. It is important to prevent your pet from licking and swallowing them. Many veterinary formulations are specially designed for rapid absorption to minimize this problem.

Be sure to follow any directions concerning application of the product, e.g. using gloves, avoiding the eyes, etc. This is important since some veterinary preparations may be irritating to human skin or eyes. Most topical preparations work better if they are gently massaged in for a few moments after application.

My dog is perfectly fine until I try to put the medication on and then he becomes very agitated.

In the early stages of treatment, the wound may still be painful, and/or the medication may cause some mild but temporary discomfort such as stinging. It is always a good idea to get someone to hold your dog, especially when applying medications on a sensitive or painful area. If you prefer, your veterinarian can recommend several types of comfortable muzzles that you can use when treating your pet.

I can apply the preparation but my dog licks it off as soon as it is applied.

A good tip in this case is to apply the product just before feeding your dog. Another solution is to take your dog for a short walk immediately after applying the medication. If you still have trouble keeping your pet from licking the medication, please contact us and we will supply you with an Elizabethan collar, such as the one shown in the illustration, to prevent the dog from licking at the affected area.

I have tried an Elizabethan collar but my dog goes crazy with it on!

The majority of dogs are initially upset by the collar because it is unfamiliar and limits their field of vision Try giving your dog a treat or taking him for a walk to distract him from the collar. Most dogs learn to accept the collar within a few hours, especially if they are rewarded for good behavior.

It is highly unlikely that our veterinarians will give you something to apply that is harmful if it is licked. The problem with licking is that it might not have time to work. Use these tips and as always, if you have any questions our entire staff is here to help.

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