Tips for Administering Pet Medication
Our furry friend just don’t understand that the medications we are trying to give them is to help them feel better! It can be quite the challenge to get your feisty feline to swallow a pill, or wrestle a rambunctious canine to administer ear medication. The experience can be tricky and exhausting for both you and your pet and may potentially prevent you from giving them the medication they need. Here are a few recommendations to consider to make the experience more pleasant, and less challenging.
The easiest way to give your pet their pill, is to sneak it into some food. Make sure to confirm with your veterinarian that the medication can be administered with food, as some medications may require it be given on an empty stomach. You may try hiding it in their meal, or hide it in a favourite treat of their’s, such as a spoonful of peanut butter, or wrapped in a piece of cheese. Alternatively, you can purchase “Pill Pockets” at your veterinarian’s office, or at select pet stores. Pill Pockets are cat or dog treats designed specifically to envelope a pill. Often times administering a pill in a treat or in their meal is more successful with dogs. Particularly, this tactic works best with dogs who “wolf” down treats or food. Pets that carefully or slowly chew treats or food may detect the pill and spit it out.
Pill devices are another way to help successful administer pills to your pet. This can be an alternative to you have to stick your fingers in your pet’s mouth, which can lead to accidental (or even not so accidental) bites. At one end of the device, you place the pill securely. At the other end of the device will be a push mechanism that releases the pill. Place the end of the device with the pill in it in the back of your pet’s mouth and push the mechanism to release. In a quick manner, grasp the muzzle of your pet and ensure their jaw remains closed, to avoid them regurgitating the pill. Gentle stroke your pet’s throat in a downward motion, to promote the act of swallowing. Pill devices can be purchased at your veterinarian’s office.
If you are able to, pills can be administered by hand with these simple steps;
· Hold the pill between your index finger and thumb
· Tilt the pet’s head back, and lift the upper jaw
· Do not put your fingers directly on your pet's teeth
· Place or drop the pill down the center of your pet’s tongue
· Quickly close the jaw, and rub your pet’s throat in a downward motion
Having someone to hold your pet, or even hold their jaw open for you while you administer the pill can make the process easier. You can also try squirting a small amount of water (i.e.: from a syringe) into their mouth after administering the pill, to encourage them to swallow.
Administering Liquid Oral Medication
Similar to administering pills, a great method for administering liquid oral medication is to place it on their food. It is important to confirm with your veterinarian first though if this ok for the specific medication your pet has. Otherwise, liquid oral medication can be administer directly into your pet’s mouth. The process is the same as if it were a pill, however, you do not need to tilt your pet’s head back, as this can actually risk your pet choking.
Whatever medication you are administering, make sure to reward your pet afterwards! It is important to note that while this is a stressful experience for you, it is also stressful and confusing for them. Providing a reward afterwards lets your pet know that their cooperation is a good behaviour, and that you mean no harm to them.
Do Not Share Medications
Although it can be tempting to identify cost saving strategies with medications, like using human medications or using a veterinary prescribed medication with various pets, this poses huge risks to your pet’s health. Dosage amounts vary greatly depending on the size of your pet, and depending on species. Additionally, certain human medications are highly toxic for pets, and can potentially be fatal. While over the counter painkillers may be harmless and low risk to you and I, for our pets they can cause liver failure, kidney failure, and ulcers in the digestive system. Always ask your veterinarian first before giving any medication they have not prescribed for your pet.
Some Other Helpful Notes
· Watch out for Side Effects; Before beginning a new medication for your pet, make sure you are aware of the side effects that may be common. Discuss with your veterinarian what side effects may be normal to see, and which side effects may indicate any serious adverse reactions. If you are ever unsure that the side effects you are seeing are a sign of a serious problem, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian and ask.
· Use the Entire Prescription; Often times you may notice you pet has recovered well before the prescription has ended; this is excellent! However, it is important to use up the full prescription, and to continue on the course of treatment until your veterinarian has indicated it is ok to stop. If your pet does not receive the full course of treatment, the symptoms may return, and treatment will have to begin again.
· Follow Instructions Carefully; Medications often come with instructions such as whether they have to be given with food or water, at certain interval times or how they are to be stored. It is important to follow these instructions, so that the medication can work as effectively as possible. If you are ever unsure or have questions regarding the instructions, consult with your veterinarian.
· Administering Medication Can be Easier with Help; Here we have discussed how to administer oral medications, but no matter what kind of medication it is you are giving your pet, doing it on your own can be tough. Sometimes it helps if you are able to have a friend or family member restrain your pet while you administer the medication. Your veterinarian can provide further instruction or demonstrate the best way to restrain your pet, depending on the medication type you are administering
· Act Relaxed and Normal; A bittersweet quality pets have is their keen sense of our emotions. If you approach your pet stressed or nervous, they will react to this, making medication administration more challenging. Try to approach medication administration as relaxed as possible, to help ease your pet during the process.
We understand that administering medications can be tough and stressful. If you have questions or concerns regarding medication and your pet, call our veterinary clinic in Newmarket Aurora area at 905-898-1010. Our vet in Newmarket is happy to help you and answer your question.