When medicating cats and dogs, even professionals struggle at times and have to call for reinforcements. To ensure your four-legged friend receives their oral medication, our Wales Animal Clinic team wants to share our combined years of experience by imparting tips to make the process go more smoothly and successfully. 

Prepare the medication

When your pet is due for oral medication, ensure the dose is prepared beforehand. This may entail measuring out a liquid dose in a syringe, hiding a pill in a treat, or mixing a capsule’s contents in tuna juice. 

Restrain your pet

Proper restraint is key to ensuring your pet receives the correct dose with minimal stress. By holding your furry pal securely and comfortably, you can avoid chasing them all over the house and creating a negative association with medication. 

When medicating your pet, choose a calm, quiet area that is free from distractions. Additionally, pick a spot where your pet feels comfortable and relaxed, such as your bed.

Depending on your pet’s size and cooperation level, you may need help to successfully give them their medication. If your pet is small yet feisty, wrap them in a towel to gently restrain their limbs and keep them from flailing. With your pet’s head facing away from you, tuck them securely under your arm, or between your legs if you are sitting down, using your body to further hold them in place. 

If your dog is too large for a towel wrap, sit or stand behind them, or have your helper hold their rear end still as you administer the medication. Keep in mind that your pet may perceive your actions as threatening if you come directly at their face, so approach from the side or behind to be less intimidating.

Administering liquid medication to your pet

Once you have gotten your pet into the ideal position, gently insert the syringe into the side of their mouth, aiming for the pouch between the cheek and teeth. Depress the syringe plunger slowly to prevent choking or aspiration, and allow your pet to swallow as needed. Consider following immediately with a tasty treat to ensure your pet swallows the liquid instead of letting it dribble out.

Administering pills to your pet

Popping a pill down your pet’s throat can be tricky, especially if you’re trying to medicate a feisty feline. If your pet does not readily take oral medication when their mouth is opened and the pill is placed at the back of their tongue, try one of the following tricks:

  • Wrap the pill in a treat — One of the easiest ways to give your pet a pill is to hide it in a treat. Choose a strong-smelling, malleable food that your pet enjoys, such as liverwurst, hot dogs, peanut butter, or spray cheese. Commercial pill pockets also work well. Prepare the medication by hiding it in your pet’s treat without them noticing. Toss your pet their snack and hope they gobble it down without hesitation.
  • Crush the pill — Some pills or capsules are too large to easily hide in a treat, so ask your prescribing veterinarian if the medication can be altered by breaking it into small pieces or by crushing it. If you can crush the medication into a fine powder, mix it with chicken broth or tuna juice and use a syringe to administer it. Or, mix it into a small amount of canned food and offer it to your pet when they are hungry.
  • Form a treat train — If your pet is suspicious of the “treat” you’re trying to offer, trick them into thinking it is medication-free by forming a treat train. Lay down a trail of “empty” treats or draw a line of spray cheese or peanut butter, hiding the pill in the middle of the train. Your pet will be lured in by the beginning of the trail, and quickly consume the rest of the treats once they do not immediately find the medication.
  • Be competitive — Pets generally do not like to share tasty tidbits and will gulp down any treat that comes their way if they think another pet may gobble it up. Use this competitive nature to your advantage by giving all your pets treats at the same time, but hide a pill in the treat for the pet who needs the medication. 

If you can’t trick your pet into taking a treat that’s hiding their medication, give our Wales Animal Clinic team a call. We may be able to switch your furry pal’s medication to an easier-to-administer form to ensure they are successfully treated.