“I will not take that pill if you sigh. I will not take that pill if you cry. I will not take that pill from your hand. I will not take that pill if you reprimand. I will not take that pill here or there. I will not take that pill anywhere. I do not like medication. I do not like it, I said!”
—Channeling Dr. Seuss
If this is your pet’s response when you attempt to medicate them, you may feel discouraged. Many pets make this seemingly easy task difficult and stressful. Our team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital would like to offer some advice, to help make the process easier.
Hide your pet’s pill in a dish. Hide your pet’s pill in something delish.
If your pet can’t refuse peanut butter, or they are a sucker for hotdogs, use their weakness to your advantage. More smelly and pungent foods are typically better for masking scent, and therefore better candidates for pill hiding. Commercial products are also available that make this process easier. Some pets get wise to the gig and refuse the treat or eat around the pill, and you may need to try several different foods to find one your pet will accept.
Make treating your pet a game. Make treating your pet not so lame.
Pets love playtime, so make medicating them a fun game. Make several treats, but only medicate one. Toss an unmedicated treat to your pet, and praise them excitedly when they catch the treat. Continue tossing them treats, incorporating the medicated treat in the mix. Your pet will think you are having a great playtime, and not realize they took their pill.
Treat your pet when in a group. Treat your pet when out for a poop.
If you have multiple household pets, you can use their competitiveness to your advantage. Prepare enough treats for every pet, medicating only one treat. Let them know they are all getting treats, so they will be excited and expectant. Give out the treats, ensuring the pet who needs the medicated treat gets the right one. Your pet will be so distracted, ensuring their buddies don’t steal their food, they won’t realize they received their medication. Another way to medicate your pet while they are distracted is to administer the pill in a treat when you are out for a walk. They will likely be too focused on their surroundings to be suspicious.
When treating your pet, be devious. When treating your pet, be mischievous.
Ensure your pet is not aware you are preparing their medication. If they anticipate the event, the situation will become more stressful. Refrain from rattling the pill bottle, and prepare the treat when they are not looking, preferably when they are in another room. You can also trick your pet, and make them think they scored a prohibited morsel. Have your pet’s medicated treat ready to go, and when you are preparing your food, “accidentally” drop the medicated treat. Your pet will gulp the food down too quickly to realize what happened.
Put your pet’s medication on their paw. Put your pet’s medication in their maw.
If your pet’s medication is a powder or a pill that can be crushed—some pills lose their effectiveness if crushed, so ensure you ask our veterinary professionals first—you can mix the medication in peanut butter or anchovy paste and smear the substance on their paw. Most pets will willingly lick away the yummy treat. If you need to pill your pet, follow these steps:
- Grasp your pet’s head — Hold your pet’s medication in your dominant hand, and gently grasp your pet’s head using your non-dominant hand. For cats and brachycephalic dogs, grasp their head from the top with your fingers and thumb along their cheekbones. For all other dog breeds, grasp their upper jaw between your thumb and index finger.
- Tilt your pet’s head back — Cats will usually open their mouth when you tilt their head back, but you will need to place your thumb on the roof of your dog’s mouth, and use your dominant hand’s middle finger to open their lower jaw.
- Go as far back as you can — Drop the pill far back over your pet’s tongue and immediately close their mouth. You can blow on their nose, or gently massage their throat, to encourage swallowing.
Ask for help to medicate your pet. Ask your vet to help medicate your pet.
If your pet refuses to take their medication, ask our team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital for help. Certain medications can be compounded to a powder or liquid, or flavored, to make the medication more palatable for your picky pet. Our veterinary professionals also may choose to treat your pet with an extended release injectable medication, so you do not need to medicate them every day. Not all medications can be compounded or given by injection, but we will work to help make this task as easy as possible.
Our team is here to assist. Our team is here, we insist. Call us when you are having trouble. Call us, and we will help on the double.
If you are having difficulty medicating your pet, do not hesitate to contact our team at Gentle Touch Animal Hospital so we can offer assistance.