College of Veterinary Medicine

Pet Health Topics

Giving Oral Fluids to a Dog

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
dog head

In the photographs below, the dog's nose is pointed to your right.

Variations on these instructions exist. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

If your dog is not drinking but is not vomiting you may be instructed to force oral fluids to prevent dehydration. The fluid may be tap water, an oral electrolyte solution such as that given to young children, a liquid diet such as Ensure or a thin slurry of blended dog food.

standard 60 ml syringe and a catheter-tip 60 ml syringe These syringes both hold 60 ml of fluid. Notice the difference in the tips of the syringes. The one on the top is a standard 60 ml syringe. The one on the bottom is a catheter-tip syringe.  The tip is wider and longer.  A catheter-tip syringe is easier to use to force oral fluid.
using your thumb to create a pouch A pouch is created between the teeth and check. 
using the syringe of fluid in the pouch The tip of the syringe is inserted into this pouch and the plunger of the syringe is pushed to force the fluid into the pouch. The fluid will drain through the spaces between the teeth and the dog will swallow it. 
DO NOT tile the dogs head backward Liquids are more likely to accidentally enter the windpipe compared to pills or capsules. To avoid the dog inhaling liquid into the windpipe, DO NOT tilt the dog's head backward but rather keep the head level as in the previous picture.

Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.

top of page

  Did you find this information useful?  Please consider helping us train the veterinarians of tomorrow by making a gift to the college.

The Pet Health Topics Web site is a free service provided by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. Your donation will help support veterinary education and research.
Last Edited: Jan 08, 2016 11:20 AM   

College of Veterinary Medicine, PO Box 647010 , Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-7010, 509-335-9515, Contact Us  Safety Links