Giving a pet medication may seem like one of the most arduous of chores. No matter what you do, your pet spits the pill out or runs for cover.
Since most pets will require medications in their lifetime, finding creative ways to help a pet acclimate to the task will go a long way in reducing stress for you and your fur friend.
Reinforce the Reward or Positive Association
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in trying to give your pet medication is to get frustrated or impatient and attempt to force your pet to swallow the pill. Not only does this create fear or anxiety in your pet but it also leaves you vulnerable to getting bitten.
Easing a reluctant pet into the medication time routine will take patience and practice. Whenever possible, wait until mealtime or playtime to administer medication, which will help your pet learn to associate the medication with something he enjoys, like eating a tasty meal or going for a walk to the park.
Giving a Pet Medication Orally
When your pet requires medication daily, such as the case when managing chronic pain, it’s a good idea to learn how to give medications without treats or people food. This is particularly true when a pet struggles with weight issues – those treat calories can add up!
Giving a pet a pill or liquid orally can be accomplished through practice and positive association as mentioned.
To accomplish this, here are some useful instructions:
- Choose a time when your pet is at ease.
- Get your dog to sit next to you and gently raise his head, tilting the head back.
- Hold the pill (or syringe) in one hand while using the other to squeeze the jaw open by holding the muzzle at the back of the mouth, between the upper and lower teeth.
- Place the pill at the back of the tongue or dispense the liquid.
- Close your pet’s mouth and hold the mouth closed for a few seconds while you stroke the throat (which encourages your pet to swallow).
- Offer your pet some water after the medication has been ingested and don’t forget to praise your fur friend for cooperating (and rewarding with a walk or favorite game).
Keep in mind you will likely have to practice this a few times before it becomes comfortable. If your pet is very resistant or is prone to biting, get assistance from one of the team members at Animal Internal Medicine & Specialty Services to avoid an injury.
Useful Tricks to Disguise the Medication
When your dog or cat refuses to accept medications orally, it may be time to use some tricks. And what is more convincing to a pet than something tasty to eat?
To disguise your pet’s medication, try hiding or crushing the pill in the following food items:
- Piece of hotdog
- Rolled up bit of tortilla
- Teaspoon of peanut butter
- Piece of cheese (do not use molded cheeses, as these are toxic)
- Hidden in tuna fish
- Crushed into potted meat or pate
- Added to wet food
You may also find pill pockets, such as Greenies Chicken Flavor, to be useful for hiding pills or capsules. Just be sure to follow the correct dosage and instructions as some medications need to be taken without food or cannot be crushed.
If your pet continues to refuse taking his medication, there may be other options that are easier for him to swallow. Liquid forms are generally more manageable since liquid can be mixed in with wet food.
Discuss your options with us during your pet’s appointment or by phoning.