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At-Home Tips for Giving Your Pet Its Medication


Many of us find ourselves watching funny dog videos for way more time than we’d like to admit. Especially the ones in which a dog is being given medication within a treat, and the dog successfully eats the treat and spits out the pill. Hilarious! But, when we have difficulty giving medication to our own pets, it stops being quite so funny. Many of us will need to give medication to our pets at some point in their lives. And we want to be able to get those meds into our pets without a huge amount of stress for them… or for us! There are products and techniques that can help us get those meds administered, and us back to our pet video scrolling.

There are so many forms of medication: liquids, powders, chews, capsules, or tablets. For liquids, the easiest way to give is to use a syringe and place it in the corner of the pet’s mouth. Do this in a slow fashion to minimize the chance of the liquid dripping from the mouth.  (Easier said than done, right?) Another option with liquid would be to disguise the medication in food or a treat.  Why not stir it in with some wet canned food that doggie loves? But make sure that mixing with food is ok and doesn’t inactivate the medication. Sometimes liquid medications can have a bitter or less-than-appealing taste, and compounding may be an option. Compounding allows for additional flavors to be mixed in that might be appealing to the pet and are typically ordered by your veterinarian through a compounding pharmacy.

Next, when it comes to capsules and tablets, “pilling” is a method that is commonly shared by your veterinarian or veterinary staff.  This consists of the steps below:

  1. Holding the pill in between your thumb and index finger on your dominate hand
  2. Gently grab their muzzle with your non-dominate hand and tilt their head back
  3. Using your middle finger on your dominant hand open their lower jaw
  4. Place the medication as far back in the mouth as possible and close the mouth

It is recommended to offer some water after this method to make sure the pill moves down the esophagus into the stomach.  But if you or your pet can’t stomach this method (pun intended), then try to disguise the pill in food or a treat. Many owners will use soft (canned) food, peanut butter, cheese, you name it.  A popular option is Tomlyn’s Pill-Masker. Available as a bacon- or peanut butter-flavored, shapeable paste that can be wrapped around any size or shape of pill and takes the dread out of pill time. And it isn’t messy!

Our feline friends tend to be a bit trickier to give medication to. One option for a cat is to mix the medication in something tasty and smear it on their paw. Cats are groomers and are likely to eat the mixed-in medication right from their paw while they are grooming.

Most importantly, the key during pill time is to make it a positive experience—especially if your pet is on a long-term medication. Offering treats before and after administration is a good practice to employ.

Lastly, if you are having trouble, reach out to your veterinarian for any questions or demonstrations.



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