A Spoonful of Sugar? Giving Your Pet Medication Successfully
When your pet is sick, All Pet Animal Hospital’s expert staff is here to help diagnose and come up with a treatment plan. Many times, though, there are things for you to do as a pet owner once your patient leaves the hospital in order to help them get better. So what do you do when your dog is refusing to take medication? Or when it seems impossible to give your cat a pill. Giving your pet medication can be tricky, but we promise that you can do it!
Prepping for Success
Preparation is a big part of success in giving your pet medication. Before you even start, think about the following:
- Is your pet motivated by food? If so, what are their favorites?
- Does your pet allow you to gently restrain them?
- Is your pet generally suspicious when you offer a new treat or do a new activity?
- Have you had to give medications before? What worked and what didn’t?
Thinking of these types of things can help you to circumnavigate problems before they even occur. You can also ask us questions about your pet’s medication to help you prepare your strategy. Understanding the format of the medication (liquid, pill, ointment, drop) and its flavoring if any can be helpful.
It is also important to ask before altering the medication in any way. Crushing certain medications can make them ineffective, and while it may be tempting to cook it into something, heat can also damage the structure of many compounds.
Tips for Giving Your Pet Medication
Each pet is different when it comes to medication, even though the basics are the same. It is always best if your pet will allow themselves to be medicated voluntarily, but in many instances, it will be necessary for you to ensure that they take it.
Familiarizing yourself with how to give your dog a pill orally or manually medicate your cat is important so that you understand the basic technique.
While it may be tempting to mix your pet’s medication in food, many medications are bitter, and pets may be suspicious of the change. While administering them in food can be a great trick to use, it is important to ensure that your pet ingests the full dose of the medication. If this isn’t the case, another technique should be utilized.
Our favorite tips and tricks for success when your cat or dog is refusing to take medication include:
- Disguising the medication in an irresistibly stinky treat like tuna or liverwurst.
- Hiding pills in a small amount of high-value food (if it’s too big, your pet is likely to chew instead of swallow). Pill Pockets can be a great tool but peanut butter, cream cheese, American cheese, and hot dogs can also work well.
- Using the rule of threes by offering a treat without medication before and after the medicated treat in quick succession so your pet does not have time to be suspicious.
- Keeping your routine as normal as possible so that your pet is not hypervigilant prior to medication.
- Asking the pharmacy for plain gel caps to hide a pill’s bitter taste.
- Offering the medication in a treat during a training session, walk, or play session so that your pet does not expect it.
- Asking us if the medication comes in a different format or flavor that might facilitate giving it to your pet patient.
- Using a pill gun if necessary to safely and effectively give your pet their medication.
You can also do some leg work before your pet even becomes sick to help your cause in case you ever need to medicate them. You can work to condition your pet to liking to take medication with a little work!
Most pets will need to take some kind of medication in their lifetime. Knowing how to approach the task is key in helping them to get better, no matter their ailment. A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to pet medication success.