Do you quiver with fear when you’re handed your pet’s prescription and told you need to administer the medication twice daily? Are you already mentally counting the scratches as you try to give your cat their antibiotics? If you’re familiar with these situations, you’re not alone. Many pet owners dread medicating their pets, especially because you cannot explain to them that you really are trying to help. Like small children, pets often do not appreciate being medicated, but numerous tricks and tips can help ensure they receive their medication.
Fluid operation—administering liquid medications to your pet
Administering liquid medication to your pet may be the easiest, since you can use a long syringe to keep your fingers out of your furry pal’s mouth. The key is to place the syringe between your pet’s teeth on top of the tongue, rather than in the cheek pouch, where they are much more likely to dribble out some medication. Additionally, many cats and quite a few dogs do not like the medication’s taste and may spit out some of their dose. You can help ensure your pet receives the entire medication dose by mixing the liquid with something tasty, like chicken broth or tuna juice. Ask our team first before mixing your pet’s medication with any additive, since some medications must be given as is, with no supplementation.
Pill popping—administering pills to your pet
Giving your pet, especially a cat, a pill is often no easy task. If you’re blessed with an always-hungry Labrador, all you have to do is toss a small pill into their bowl of kibble, and they’ll gobble it up. However, your pet may be more discerning about their meals, and easily detect a pill in their food. The best methods for hiding pills in food require a strong-smelling, easily moldable food, such as:
- Paté canned food for cats
- Peanut butter
- Spray cheese
- Greenies pill pockets or similar treats
- Hopping Oats pill wraps — We recommend these pill wraps for pets with food allergies, and carry them at UVH.
- Almond butter — This is another acceptable alternative for some pets with food allergies.
You can also use a pill gun to administer a pill to your pet without sticking your fingers in their mouth. This tool has a small “pouch” that holds the pill, a long stem to keep your fingers safe, and a plunger to pop the pill into your pet’s mouth. You will need some practice to become familiar with pill gun use, but the tool allows you to administer pills to your pet quickly and easily.
If you don’t mind being covered in slobber, and your pet won’t chomp down on your fingers, you can simply use your non-dominant hand to grasp your pet’s muzzle behind their canines, pull open their lower jaw with a finger, and then tuck the pill in the back of their throat. Hold your pet’s muzzle closed, rub their throat, and blow in their nose to encourage them to swallow the pill.
Ear-sy does it—administering ear medications to your pet
Many pets do not like ear medications, generally because of the pain of the ear infection that requires the medication, but a few tricks can make the experience more pleasant for your furry pal. Begin by gently placing a small amount of ear cleaner on a cotton ball or gauze square inside your pet’s ear. This will accustom them to the sensation of a wet liquid inside their ear, and is a much gentler introduction to ear medication than a bunch of cold fluid being dumped inside the ear. Reward your pet heavily with treats and praise for allowing you to care for their ears, and then proceed to medicating their ears correctly. Ointments must be squeezed into the ear, while most liquid medications must be squirted directly in the ear canal, rather than applied with a cotton ball. However, the initial gentle step of acclimating your pet to cold, wet, ear cleaner will help ensure they will be less startled when they are medicated.
See this—administering eye medications to your pet
Eye medications can be tricky to administer, without ointment or drops being stuck in the eyelashes or on the face. The key to medicating your pet’s eye is to stand behind them, rather than coming directly at their face. Tilt your pet’s head up with your non-dominant hand, and use a finger to hold their upper eyelid open. Next, use a finger on the hand that’s holding the medication to hold down your pet’s lower eyelid. This will create a pouch for the ointment or drops, rather than trying to place them directly on the eyeball. Once the medication is administered, hold the eyelid closed, to allow the medication time to coat the entire eyeball.
Gentle, proper restraint will help greatly when administering medications. Towel wraps are an excellent way of safely restraining your cat or small dog, keeping them still and preventing them from scratching. An assistant who can help steady your large dog can make administering medication easier, especially if they’re providing treats and praise during the entire treatment.
Medicating your pet should not be a struggle. Talk to our University Veterinary Hospital team to see what options are available for medicating your furry pal.