It is always heartbreaking for an owner when a pet becomes ill. The last thing an owner wants to deal with is the difficulties that come with having to administer medication to an ailing dog or cat. However, once you learn some simple steps, it will be a lot easier to give your pet medicine he needs.
Whether it is a pet suffering from an illness or a pet with special long-term needs, or perhaps a chronic condition, it is imperative that the owner learn the proper methods for giving medications. Proper dosage at the prescribed intervals provides optimum management for a long-term condition, or the best chance for a speedy recovery from a short-term illness.
PROPER MEDICATING IS IMPORTANT
Diagnosing your pet’s illness as soon as possible always gives them the chance for the best recovery. Here are some important things to remember:
- Follow your veterinarian’s instructions exactly as given. Failure to follow special instructions could have serious consequences.
- Always get your medications from a reliable source. With online distributors, it's more difficult to monitor the shelf life, quality and origin of the medicines they are shipping you. If you get your medications from your veterinarian, you will know the source is reliable and the medicines are fresh.
- If you do choose to use an online distributor for your pet medications, make sure they require a prescription. This is a good indicator that they are reputable and adhere to good safety practices.
- Overdosing could permanently harm or even kill your pet
- Under-dosing could allow the condition or illness being treated to become worse, escalating symptoms to a dangerous level or possibly resulting in additional complications.
- Stopping medications too soon because symptoms have disappeared could allow the illness to return.
- Do not use old medications, as the shelf life may have expired, rendering them ineffective. Once you have finished the prescribed dosing period, discard any leftover medications.
- If your pet does not show signs of improvement after all dosages have been given, contact your veterinarian; do not wait to see if the animal’s condition improves.
- Make sure you give medications on an empty stomach if instructed to do so, to help ensure their effectiveness is not inhibited. Just as important is administering them with food if required, as some medications are tough on the stomach and the food acts as a buffer.
Fortunately, pet medications, especially antibiotics, are reasonably safe and formulated to make overdosing difficult, without any adverse affects on the pet. However, medications used to control chronic conditions such as epilepsy and heart problems are a bit riskier. When you are unsure or unable to properly medicate your pet, it is always best to consult your veterinarian for help, or to have him administer the medication for you.
ADMINISTERING A PILL
Disguise the pill in food. Dogs and cats both enjoy a tasty treat. Most cats like tuna, so burying a pill in a few bites of tuna works well. Bury the pill inside the tuna bite and allow the cat to eat it from your hand, so that you can make sure he eats the entire bite and doesn’t miss the pill. Liverwurst or cheese also works in this manner. The key is to get the cat to eat the bite quickly so that the pill is not discovered. Dogs also enjoy soft food, and fortunately eat with a bit more gusto than their feline counterpart, so tucking the pill inside a small bit of cheese is very effective. It is a good idea to offer one bite of the treat without a pill first, so your pet is anxious for the second bite, and does not suspect the pill in the following bite.
Whether a cat or dog, make sure the pill is well disguised, and the amount of food small, so the pet realizes this is a “treat” and not a meal. You do not want to use a regularly scheduled meal to pill your pet, because if they discover the pill during a regular meal, they may begin to refuse their scheduled feedings to avoid the pill, which just creates another problem you will have to deal with.
ADMINISTERING LIQUID MEDICATIONS
Most medications for pets are prescribed in pill, caplet or table form. However, there are some which come in liquid form. If the liquid form needs to be administered via an injection, have your veterinarian show you the proper method and best injection site. Your veterinarian may have you administer an injection at his office to make sure you are capable of giving the medication to your pet. Remember when giving a pet injection:
- Only fill syringe to specified dosage point; do not over or under fill the syringe.
- Gently tap the syringe when filling to make sure you have no air bubbles in there to give you a false dosage reading
- Slowly press the plunger to expel any remaining air in the needle
- Part the animal’s fur and cleanse the injection site with a cotton ball soaked in alcohol
- Although the injection usually doesn’t hurt, the medication itself may cause some discomfort once it is injected; therefore, it is a good idea to restrain the animal, or have someone assist you by holding them during the injection.
Remember to seek assistance from your veterinarian if you are having difficulty administering any type of medication to an ailing pet. Do not worry about embarrassment, as most owners are inexperienced at medicating a pet. Your pet's health and well-being is important, and your veterinarian is always happy to help!
Is your pet currently on medications? If you have any other tips on how you administer it, let us all know in the comments!