While your pet heals from surgery or battles an on going condition, your veterinarian may require daily administration of medications or vitamins. Getting the pet to actually ingest the medication can become a battle.
I give one of my dogs pain and allergy medication regularly, and know this battle all too well. The fake swallow, the pill spit and the hiding the pill under the tongue trick no longer work with me. I have listed a few tricks I learned from my veterinarian.
Crushing the Pills
Ask your veterinarian about crushing the medication. Some pills — without coatings — can be crushed without harming the effectiveness of the medication. Some medications, such as canine aspirin, come in both pill and powder forms. Simply mix the medication into a very small portion of your pet’s favorite moist food. First offer the pet a bite of the moist food without the medication, then carefully trick the pet by adding in the medicated food. Watch the pet eat and swallow the treat. Then, offer the pet a drink to wash down the medicine-filled food.
Supplements such as salmon oil for cats, skin and coat supplements and joint health care for dogs are available in a liquid. This form of medication easily absorbs into dry food kibble. If the pet has difficulties chewing, mix the medication with a small portion of the pet’s drinking water. If the pet requires a specific prescription medication, ask your veterinarian if the medication is available in liquid form or can be made into a suspension at the local pharmacy.
The easiest way to entice your pet to take a vitamin or medication is by hiding it in his food. If your pet follows a restricted diet, try using pill pockets from a pet retail store or from your veterinarian’s office. If the pet can have table scraps, wrap pills in a small piece of soft bread folded over on itself and pressed together, tucked inside a small bite of apple, liverwurst or in a tiny dab of peanut butter. Avoid using soft cheese, as dairy products often cause digestive upset and gas for dogs.
Administering a Pill
If the pet must take the medication plain, Ask your veterinarian for a demonstration on carefully placing the pill in the pet’s mouth. The example should closely resemble the following technique. In a calm tone speak with the pet, so it doesn’t feel nervous. Position the pet in an area where it can’t run away, such as the corner of the sofa, or in the corner of a room. Gently open the pet’s mouth with an overhand grip over the pet’s muzzle, advises Drs. Foster and Smith. Gently lift up on the upper jaw. With your free hand, place the pill in the back of the pet’s mouth, near the back of its tongue. Close the pets mouth, lower its head and rub its throat to encourage swallowing. Allow the pet to get a drink of water, and make sure it doesn’t spit the pill out.
Sources and Suggested Further Reading:
Drs. Foster and Smith, “How to Give Your Dog a Pill”, Pet Education.com