How to give your Pet a Pill

Some dogs and cats will eat anything and everything—including their medications. However, most cats and many dogs are reluctant to gobble down pills and capsules, especially if they’re large, require chewing, or taste/smell bad to them. Sometimes your veterinarian will prescribe flavoured chewable medications, but that is not always available.
The following are a few tricks on how to give your dog his or her medication:

  • Try mixing your pet’s medication into his meal. If he eats his food enthusiastically, he might not even notice the pill is in there. If you feed  kibble, add a small amount of canned food or a soft treat, like a cube of cheese, and push the pill inside. Alternatively, you can simply stick the pill inside a soft treat or wrap it up in a soft cheese food slice and offer it to him.
  • First prepare a couple of treats. Use something really tasty, like soft  treats, canned food, chunks of hot dog or cheese. You can also try using special hollow treats, such as Pill Pockets, which are made to hold pills and come in flavours and sizes appropriate for both dogs and cats. If your dog or cat tends to chew treats rather than swallow them whole, make them small. Give her a few unmedicated treats first, one right after the other, and then give her the one with the pill inside. So your dog or cat doesn’t have time to notice that you’ve just sneakily fed her a pill, immediately pop one more normal treat into her mouth.
  • Dogs who enjoy catching treats tossed to them will often catch and swallow a pill if you act as though you’re tossing a treat. Grab a handful of small treats and toss them to your dog, one right after the other. Somewhere in the midst of the treats, toss the pill or toss a soft treat with the pill hidden inside. With any luck, your dog will catch and swallow it before he even notices it was different.

It’s best to use the tricks above to avoid causing your pet unnecessary stress. However, if those procedures fail, you’ll need to open your cat or dog’s mouth and insert the pill directly, if you can do so without getting bitten in the process.  Proceed cautiously! Before you start, get a tasty treat and keep it within reach.

1. Hold the pill in the fingers of one hand.  Place that hand on your pet’s lower jaw and the other hand on his upper jaw.  Lift his head up toward the ceiling.

2. Open your pet’s mouth and place the pill on your dog or cat’s tongue as far back as you can reach, and then quickly withdraw your hand as you close your pet’s jaws.

3. Continue to hold the jaws closed with one hand while keeping his nose pointed up at the ceiling, and gently stroke his throat downward with the other to encourage him to swallow.

4. As soon as you think your dog or cat has swallowed the pill, offer him the tasty treat so that he takes it and swallows again when he takes the treat.

Right after pilling your dog, keep an eye on him for a minute or two. Some dogs and cats do learn to hold the pill in their mouth and then spit it out when you’re not paying attention.

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