Even the most experienced pet owners sometimes dread giving pills to dogs and cats. Children are hard enough to medicate, let alone pets, who won’t understand, “This is for your own good!” However, with a little ingenuity and persistence, even the most difficult cat or dog will take needed medication.
The Food Method
Food is the simplest and most obvious method of giving a pill to your pet. Most dog owners can stop reading after the next sentence: Dip the pill in some peanut butter and give it to your dog. Cream cheese or canned food can be used as an alternative if you prefer not to give peanut products. Some dogs will even gulp a pill rubbed in bacon grease.
For cats, you might need to get a little more creative. When I had a cat with high blood pressure, I found that spreading a thin layer of cream cheese on a layer of turkey lunchmeat, sticking the pill in the middle, and rolling up the lunchmeat worked well. I would then cut the roll into slices, so that I could give my cat one slice without a pill, one with the pill, then another without.
Some cats will eat pills stashed in their canned food; others will deftly pick around them, and snub food that contains crushed pills. It all depends on the cat’s personality and appetite!
If your pet won’t accept a pill in food, you’ll have to try an alternative method. Here are some:
Pop and Pray– If you’re quick, you can open your pet’s mouth, deposit the pill in the back of her throat, close her mouth and hope she swallows. For some pets this works fine. For most cats, it works once, then they flee the next time they see you coming with a pill!
Syringe Method– After checking with your vet to make sure the pills can be mixed with water, you can crush a pill and put it in a syringe filled with water. Then you angle the syringe into the side of the pet’s mouth and pointing at the back of the throat, and squirt. Most pets will object to this, but most won’t learn to spit it out, or at least not right away.
Burrito Wrap– For really difficult to pill cats, a burrito wrap can help. Wrap the cat in a towel so only the head protrudes. Make sure the legs are straight or bent, but not twisted. Proceed with either of the above two methods.
Compound– A human compounding pharmacy should be able to help you compound medication for your pet with an anchovy or beef-flavored gel to make it more palatable.
Pill Gun– As a last resort, you can get a pilling gun through most vet’s offices. Your vet will need to show you how to administer a pill with the pilling gun without hurting the pet. Once you’ve learned how to use the device, it should be relatively simple to use it to administer medications.