Giving Pets Pills – Risky Business!

So you’ve been handed a packet of pills by your veterinarian to give to your kitty or pooch……now what??  As you’ve probably noticed, most self-respecting dogs or cats will not take pills right out of your hand, not even the so called ‘flavored’ pills.  Hiding it in a meal may work on some dogs, but our sneaky feline friends will often sniff out the contaminant and find a way to eat around the pill.  So how do you make sure your pet receives the medication he/she needs at home?  Techniques for medicating pets are as follows:

  • ‘Pill’ the pet- if your pet is reasonably easy to handle, you should be able to pop the pill down it’s throat.  Cats and small dogs should be restrained against your body with your forearm, and the hand of that arm (usually the weaker hand) should be used to hold the head by placing the thumb and forefinger on either side of the jaw.  Then, the stronger hand should be used to pull the lower jaw down and very quickly push the pill over the curve of the tongue.  It’s important to complete the job by holding the head up until you see your pet lick or swallow.  Blowing lightly on its nose or massaging its throat may help.  Trickier creatures should be watched for a few minutes to ensure they don’t promptly spit the pill out.
  • Wrap the pill in something irresistible such as meat, low-fat cheese or low fat peanut butter and offer it to the pet.  Make a fuss about it first as if you are offering a treat!  However, you should check with your vet to ensure that these foods will not adversely affect your pet.
  • Crush the pill up finely and mix it through a small amount of strong-smelling food such as tuna.  Check with your vet whether those particular pills can be crushed safely.

If you have a pet that is simply ‘un-pillable’, liquid versions of the drug or long acting injections may be an option.  Good luck and don’t get scratched!

How do you get your pet to take pills? Share your tips with us in the comments!

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