How To Give Your Pet A Pill

For some people, giving their pet a pill is an easy task. They are able to mix their pet's supplement or medicine in food and the pet gobbles it right down. This is the exception---NOT the rule. In most instances, giving pets supplements or medication does require some effort and the first step is to prepare yourself mentally that you will need to take control of the situation. Many people struggle with the issue that if their pet doesn't want to take something, then they don't want to force it. We love our pets and don't want to "upset" them. That is why it is so important that you, as their caretaker, feel good about what you are administering so that you can take charge and make the process as simple as possible.

Pets sense your hesitation and if you are thinking "Gee, I don't know why I am giving this to Buster, it probably won't help"-then you won't administer the pill with the same tenacity as if you really thought it would help Buster feel better. Thus, step #1 in administering pills is to understand why you are using the supplement or medicine and then you will be more comfortable knowing that you are helping your pet. If you don't understand, then please contact your veterinarian or pet health care practitioner so that you can be more knowledgeable about why you are administering the medication or supplement.

Here are some 7 easy tips to give your cat or dog a pill:

1. "Hide" the pill in food. Try to convince your pet "it's not a pill, it's a treat". You can hide the pill in a special food or treat that you ONLY use at pill time. Try some premium canned pet food, mashed potatoes or baby food. Do NOT use peanut butter, cookie dough or full fat cream cheese or other cheese. Many pets are allergic to the ingredients in all of these and they are too high in fat. Some cats will respond nicely to salmon spread.

2. Be sure when you hide the pill that the food is "bite-size". You may need to cut the pill. When hiding the pill, be careful not to use too much food. If you give too much food, then your pet will start to chew the treat and the pill will be spit out. Use the bare minimum of covering---just enough for a quick gulp!

3. Be sure your pet swallows the pill. Many times people assume that if the pill is in their pet's bowl, then it was eaten. You might find the pill throughout the house, so please be sure your pet swallowed the pill.

4. Unless your pet inhales food routinely, do NOT mix the pill into the pet's regular food. Often times, the pet will stop eating the food. You need to give the pill separately from the food if your pet has any type of pickiness.

5. Most pills can be crushed or opened, mixed with water and given in a syringe. This technique works very well, especially with cats. Open the capsule of the supplement or medication, or crush the pill, mix with water, broth or tuna water and syringe into your pet's mouth. Syringes can be purchased at any drug store or at your veterinarian's office.

6. If all else fails and your pet consistently spits out the pill, then you will need to open your pet's mouth, place the pill quickly into the back of the mouth, close the mouth and then gently massage the throat to ensure the pill is swallowed (while holding the jaws shut). This is a lot easier than it sounds and sometimes may be your only option. Your veterinarian's office can show you how.

You can also try putting the pill in the back of the mouth, closing the mouth and then syringing in a little water to help the pill go down easier.

Often, when pets realize that they have two choices: have the pill placed in the back of their mouth or take the treat, they suddenly start to cooperate.

7. Compliance with pills in the end, comes down to your ability to take control of your pet and your belief in the benefits of the medication or supplement. If you don't feel good about giving the product, then after a few days, you may find you haven't complied with your doctor or pet health practitioner's instructions. Understanding the benefits of what you are using will help keep you going as, in many cases, giving an uncooperative pet pills does take time and can be stressful.

Also, you can ask your veterinarian about medications that might come in liquid form and those that can be compounded by a compounding pharmacy into a flavored medication or transdermal gel.

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