When it comes to giving pills to your pet, an easy-going, hungry pet is no problem, while a stubborn, finicky eater can be downright frustrating. Follow these guidelines, from easiest to toughest, in order to make sure your furry friend is getting those oral medications.
Wrap in a Treat
Wrapping medication in food is your first option. Pill Pockets are soft, yummy treats that mask the taste and smell of medications. These can be purchased through your vet or at the pet store.
Instead of Pill Pockets, lean turkey is also a good choice. Cheese may be an OK option, but dairy products are known to cause stomach upset in dogs and cats, so watch out for diarrhea.
If your dog knows that treats contain pills, give a few treats without pills first to get the momentum going. When you dog is in the rhythm of eating, give the pill-containing treat. They may be less cautious and gobble it down.
Crush and Mix with a Meal
Because of special coatings, some tablets and capsules should not be crushed or opened and mixed with food. Please ask your vet if a medication can be crushed and mixed with food.
If the medication is suitable, mixing with a meal can be a good choice. The downside? If your pet only finishes half of the meal, there’s no way to know how much medication was given. Mix the medication with a small portion and feed that first, then feed the remainder of the meal.
Use a different food than usual when mixing in medications. Some pets will learn that their food has been tampered with. Even if you stop putting medications in the food, they may never want to eat that type of food again.
Back of the Tongue
If you have a stubborn dog or cat, then you will probably need to give the pill directly, without a treat.
First, open your pet’s mouth - rolling the upper lips under the upper teeth can help. Then, with the other hand, put the pill at the back of the tongue. Finally, close the mouth and tilt the head up.
Massaging the throat can encourage swallowing. Also, with cats, gently blowing on the nose after giving the medication will encourage them to keep the mouth closed.
Add a Little Water
Stubborn pets may still spit out medications. To prevent this, squirt water into the mouth with a syringe (ask your vet for one) after putting the pill at the back of the tongue. Most animals will have no choice but to swallow with the added water.
Some medications can be entirely dissolved in water and given by syringe. Again, ask your veterinarian first if you would like to do this. Not all medications should be dissolved.
But It’s Still Impossible!
If you still can’t manage to get those pills in your pet, then call your veterinarian.
Sometimes, flavored varieties can be compounded at specialty pharmacies. The medication may also be available in a liquid or as an injection at the vet’s office.