As dog walkers and pet sitters in the Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Brookfield areas, we find that giving oral medications to uncooperative pets can be a hassle. Here are a few tricks to make it easier:
- Go through the motions
Dogs and cats will quickly associate the sight of the pill bottle and owners prying open their mouth with unwanted medications. The worst pets will start misbehaving at the first inclination that they will be receiving oral medications.
Break the cycle by desensitizing your pet to the smell and sight of the pills (or liquid medicine). Get your pet used to your touch on their head and jaw area, as well as the notion of opening their mouth. Reward them for their cooperation with a small treat and repeat this process several times without the medication. Start a “marker” with the word YES and then a treat. The pet will associate the word YES with something good coming down the road.
- Disguise the medication if possible
Pills and tablets can often be hidden inside a ‘meatball’ of wet food or a commercial ‘pill pocket’. Offer your pet a meatball of wet food without anything inside first to be certain that they will eat it. Small pills can be then hidden inside a second meatball that your pet will hopefully swallow.
Tablets or pills can also be crushed into the powdered form and mixed in with wet/canned food (if your pet is eating). Liquid medications can be mixed in the food in a similar way. This can work well especially for medications that should be given with food. Be sure to watch your pet and only repeat this method if they successfully ate their whole portion the first time.
- Wash it down with water
Just like some people have difficulty swallowing pills whole, pills can be dry and hard to swallow for cats and dogs. Offering your pet some water after their pill or liquid medication can decrease the likelihood of your pet spitting them back out.
Water should be given in a small dropper or syringe and squirted into the mouth immediately after administering the medication. Certain pills and tablets may also be crushed and dissolved in water for easier administration via a syringe, wash down with water as well.
When giving medications to your pet, it is important to follow the instruction label regarding amount and frequency. Take note whether the medication needs to be given with food or on an empty stomach. Watch for any signs of adverse reactions. If there are any concerns, contact your veterinarian.