Tips on Giving Medications

Dr. Ryan Ridgway – Southwest Mobile Pet Care

If you have problems giving your pet their medications, you’re not alone- many pets think that the cure is worse than the disease and most owners have problems with giving their pets medication, cats in particular.

Most dogs will take their pills wrapped in treats such as cheese, hot dogs or soft food, but some still figure out there is medication in the treat and spit it out. In fact, giving pets oral medication is a big enough problem with treatment compliance, and cause of treatment failure, that pet pharmaceutical companies make palatability and ease of dosing their largest focus.

Most pets are sent home on one or more types of oral medication when they are sick. If you’re lucky, they will take their medications hidden in a treat; If not, you will have to give your pet their medications.

Here are some tips on giving them their medications.

Pilling Pets:

A second person to hold your pet and keep it from walking away helps prevent bites and your pet spitting the pill out.

1) Grasp the top of your pets head (top jaw in the case of large dogs) in one hand with your middle finger and thumb on either side of the jaw.

You can use your index finger instead of your middle finger but I like to use my index finger to tap on the pet’s nose to distract them and make them involuntarily swallow once I close their mouth.

2) Holding the pill between your thumb and index finger of the other hand, use the rest of the fingers to open the bottom jaw.

3) Put the pill to the back of your pet’s throat, over the back of the tongue. In many cases, you will have to push it back with the tip of your finger. You have to be careful, as this is when most owners get bit. If you squeeze their cheeks over their molars with the hand holding the head/nose, they won’t bite down.

4) Close your pet’s mouth until he/she swallows. Sometimes it helps to blow of tap on their nose to distract them and make them swallow. Other pets will respond to massaging the bottom of their tongue, between their lower jaw bones, keeping them from moving the pill forwards.

**If your pet is hard to give medications to, there are some options to help. These include liquid formulations that you can simply squirt to the back of their mouth, treats for hiding pills and paste formulations to put on food. You can also purchase pillers that puts the pill in the back of your pet’s throat instead of using your fingers, but you still need to be able to hold your pet properly to prevent them from spitting the pill out. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any questions about options or to be shown how to give the medications. Remember, you’re not alone and you veterinarian wants your pet to get healthy.