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How to give pills to your pet

By April 15, 2015 February 28th, 2019 Uncategorized

You’ve just left your veterinary clinic in Markham. Your pet needs some prescription medication to help treat an illness. How in the world are you supposed to give your pet pills?

Hide it in food or a treat

Some owners have a dog that loves to eat so much, they can just toss the pill into the dry food – and voila! Most are not that lucky. But, the large majority of dogs will take a pill relatively easily with just a little bit of disguise.

Dogs are usually very eager to eat something that they think is a treat, especially if it is human food. Wrapping the pill in a slice of cheese or lunch meat works well with some dogs, but a few can skillfully pick the pills out of these. You may do better coating the pill with gob of peanut butter, cream cheese, or butter for these tricky pooches.  A meatball of canned dog food with a pill wrapped tightly inside also works great for some picky pups.

Cats, on the other hand, usually cannot be tricked into eating pills in food or treats as easily as dogs because their taste buds are much more sensitive. To try the food method, the best thing is to hide the pill in a tiny amount of your kitty’s favorite canned food. Alternatively, you can try using a small amount of tuna juice, chicken/turkey baby food, or chicken broth. The veterinarians in Markham recommend you do this before a meal, so your cat will be hungry, and more likely to eat it. Make sure it is warmed up, to help cover the smell of the pills.

Check with your veterinarian in Markham before using these methods, as some medications cannot be given with food, and some pills cannot be crushed.

Pill pockets

You can purchase small treats called Pill Pockets if you would prefer not to give human food. These also come in a hypoallergenic variety for pets with food allergies. You place the pill inside the small hole, cover it up, and give it to Fido. They come in many different flavors, so there should be one that your dog will eat. Most dogs take pills well this way, but some can eat the pocket and leave the pill behind.

Pill Pockets are also available for cats. Some kitties will eat the Pill Pocket right up, and continue to do so, but many cats tend to figure out what is going on after a few doses. They may eat the treat and leave the pill behind, or turn up their nose and walk away, leaving the whole thing uneaten.

Pill directly

If you have tried every treat and food known to man with no avail, it’s time to bring out the big guns.  To pill your dog, hold the pill in your dominant hand. With the other hand, grab your dog’s top jaw just behind the canine teeth, while grabbing the bottom jaw in the same manner with the other hand – and pull the mouth open. Quickly place the pill as far back in the mouth as you can, close the mouth, and blow on the nose or rub the throat until the pill is swallowed.

To pill your cat, hold the pill in your dominant hand. Grab the top of the cat’s head with your other hand, placing your fingers on the cheek bones. Pull the head back, so the cat is looking at the ceiling. Gently pull the bottom jaw open with the middle finger of your dominant hand, and drop the pill into the back of the throat. You can give a syringe full of water to help your kitty swallow.

Hand/pill gun

If you are unable to give the pills manually, consult your veterinary clinic in Markham and ask about a pill gun. A pill gun is a small piece of plastic with an opening on one end, where you place the pill. Hold your pet’s head steady, and place the pill gun in the mouth just behind the canine teeth. Once you have it far back in the mouth, press the plunger and shoot the pill in.

If all else fails, see your veterinarian in Markham. They can help you with a demonstration or it may be possible for some medications to be compounded into a liquid, flavored chew or transdermal formula, or be given as an injection.

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Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of  Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

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