Tips for Giving your Pets Medicine By Bonnie Kemp, CSR, VA

Medications are prescribed by your vet for a variety of reasons, from car travel anxiety to managing chronic disease. Regardless of the reason, it is important to give pets medicine as directed by the veterinarian to ensure you see the desired results.

Easier said than done, I know. Although sometimes challenging, it’s not (always) impossible to give your stubborn pet medication. Here are some tips for helping pets take medicine.

Tips for Cats:

  1. If you’re lucky, your cat will eat most yummy treats. If this is the case, try hiding the pill in a small piece of cheese or in a bit of tuna, which covers the medication and hides the scent. They’ll likely be too excited to even notice!
  2. Sometimes, giving cats medicine can be a little trickier. Typically the easiest way to give a cat medication is by enlisting the help of treats called ‘Pill Pockets’. These treats have an opening for the pill to be placed in, and are soft so that treats can be squished around to hide the pills and cover them in a much more enticing smell. Make sure that you give your cat these treats without medication in them on occasion as well so you always keep them guessing.
  3. A similar alternative to the pill pocket is to make a ‘meatball’ out of canned cat food (a pâté food works best). With this method, it is also wise to give a few trick meatballs which do not contain the medication first.
  4. If none of these options work, it may be time to try pilling your cat directly. To do this, hold their top jaw in one hand and the pill in the other. Lower the bottom jaw, and in one swoop you should be able to place the pill towards the back of your cat’s mouth. Quickly close their mouth and cross your fingers that they swallow it! It can sometimes be helpful to tap their nose or put a couple of water droplets in their mouth or on their nose to help entice them to swallow. Make sure they don’t spit it out! To assist with this method, you can also get a ‘piller’, which is a long stick that holds the pill at one end, and allows you to pill without getting your fingers stuck in the cross fire of closing jaws.

Tips for Dogs

  1. If you have food motivated dogs like I do, it’s usually very easy to trick them into taking medication. A scoop of peanut butter or slice of cheese is usually enough for even the pickiest of dogs.
  2. If they catch on that their special treats are actually a ploy, giving dogs medicine may become more difficult. Luckily they make pill pockets for dogs as well, which hide the medication and cover it in a yummy smell. Make sure you give your dog empty pill pockets here and there so that they don’t catch on that pill pocket means medication. Like cats, you can also try making a meatball out of a pâté canned food to see if this works any better.
  3. If all else fails, you can try to open their mouth and place the pill near the back of their mouth. Chase it with water, and make sure they don’t spit it out!

If your dog or cat tends to get a little cranky when it comes to medication time, make sure you are being safe and do not attempt this if you think they may bite. Give us a call and we can arrange for you to bring your pet in so that we can find the best method for you.

Also, if you know your pet is picky, let us know! Some medications come in different forms, so we may be able to find a liquid or topical medication for you to use instead.