Getting your pet to take their medicine can be stressful for you and your pet, creating discord in your household. Our team at Country Valley Veterinary Clinic wants to make the process easier. We offer strategies to correctly medicate your pet.

Administering pills and tablets to your pet

While some pets obliviously gulp down any morsel they are offered, others are more discriminating about what they ingest. This can make giving them a pill or tablet difficult. Strategies to make this process easier include:

  • Concealment — Hide your pet’s pill or tablet in an appealing, strong-smelling food. Peanut butter, liverwurst, and tuna fish are great options. Use only a small amount of the food, about a tablespoon or less, to ensure they swallow the whole tablet, and get their entire dosage. You can also give them a drug-free treat first, followed quickly by the medicated treat, so they aren’t suspicious.
  • Competition — Having another pet jockeying for the proffered treat can be helpful. Have several treats available, and build excitement over the impending treats. Give each pet a treat, ensuring the medicated treat goes to the right pet.
  • Manual delivery — If your pet sniffs out the pill offered in any food, you may need to administer their pill or tablet manually.
    • Hold their medication in your dominant hand, and gently grasp their muzzle in your other hand.
    • Tilt their head back, and use your dominant middle finger to open their lower jaw, if necessary.
    • Place the pill as far back over their tongue as possible, and close their mouth.
    • You can massage their throat to help promote swallowing.
    • Offer a high-value treat once they have taken their medication.

Administering oral liquids to your pet

Many pets will take oral medications better than tablets or pills. Strategies include:

  • Syringe delivery — Syringing the liquid medication is the best way to ensure your pet receives their entire dosage.
    • Hold the syringe in your dominant hand, and gently grasp their muzzle in your other hand.
    • Tilt their head back, and insert the syringe tip in the corner of their mouth.
    • Slowly depress the syringe, giving them time to swallow the medication.
    • Offer a high-value treat once they have swallowed.
  • Paw delivery — This method works especially well for finicky cats. Mix the liquid in anchovy paste or peanut butter, and spread the concoction on their paw. Most cats will groom themselves until they are clean, successfully ingesting their medication.

Administering ear medications to your pet

Clean visible debris from your pet’s ears with a cotton ball and a small amount of cleaner, ensuring you do not push the debris further down the ear canal. You can then administer the ear medication:

  • Warm — Many ear medications require refrigeration, which can be uncomfortable when the cold fluid enters your pet’s ear. Warm the medication in your hand before administration.
  • Restrain — Restrain your pet from behind. Cats may be more cooperative if they are wrapped in a towel.
  • Administer — Deliver the appropriate medication dose down the ear canal.
  • Massage — Gently massage the ear base, to disperse the medication.
  • Duck — Once you let your pet go, duck, and cover your face, since they will likely shake their head vigorously, flinging ear medication in all directions.
  • Treat — Treat your pet once the procedure is finished.

Administering eye medications to your pet

Administering eye medication is easier if you have a helper to steady their head. If your pet is too wiggly, you can accidentally injure their eye when attempting treatment. Have one person steady your pet’s head. Then, gently use one hand to pull down your pet’s lower eyelid, and the other hand to administer the medication in the pouch created. Treat your pet once the procedure is finished.

Administering topical medications to your pet

The main difficulty in topical medication administration is the pet grooming themselves after application, removing the medication. Considerations include:

  • If the medication needs skin contact time, part your pet’s hair, to better deliver the medication directly to the skin, and ensure your pet’s fur does not inhibit absorption.
  • When administering topical treatments, such as flea and worming treatments, apply the medication to the back of the neck, to inhibit your pet from reaching the area.
  • When applying creams or ointments to the skin or wounds, use a shirt or bandages to cover the area, to prevent your pet from removing the medication. If the area does not require covering, use an Elizabethan collar to dissuade them from grooming the area.

Regardless which treatment strategy you are employing, ensure you stay calm, and never punish an uncooperative pet. Disciplining your pet will bring more stress to the situation, making your pet less willing to  be medicated. Praise and treat your pet profusely during the process, to ameliorate them to the situation, and don’t force the issue if your pet becomes upset. You can also reach out to our veterinary professionals to ask for guidance, and in some cases, we may be able to offer compounded medications that may be a better alternative for your pet.

If you are having difficulties medicating your pet, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team at Country Valley Veterinary Clinic, and let us offer assistance.