For some people, giving their pet a pill is an easy task. They are able to mix their pet’s supplement or medicine in food and the pet gobbles it right down. This is the exception NOT the rule. In most instances, giving pets supplements or medication does require some effort.
Step 1–Prepare yourself mentally that you will need to take control of the situation and that this is going to require some extra effort. Consider the positive benefits of administering the pill (e.g. your pet’s health may improve!). Many people struggle with the issue that if their pet doesn’t want to take something, then they don’t want to upset them. When you consider that your pet’s health may deteriorate without the pill, it is important that you as the caretaker take charge.
Pets sense your hesitation and if you are thinking “Gee, I don’t know why I am giving this to Buster”—then you won’t administer the pill with the same tenacity as if you really thought it would help Buster feel better. Thus, step #1 in administering pills is to understand why you are using the supplement or medicine and then you will be more comfortable knowing that you are helping your pet.
Other tips you may find helpful:
1) If the product is a vitamin supplement (this does not apply to medications from your veterinarian!), start with a tiny amount. Give your pet time to get used to the new smell or texture. Try opening a capsule and sprinkling just a dash into the food. Hide the tiny amount underneath a tasty treat in your pet’s bowl. Over time, your pet will get used to it in the food. Many pet owners make the mistake of putting the full amount in the first time and then erroneously conclude their pet will not accept it. Administering supplements is an ART and requires patience.
2) Try to convince your pet “it’s not a pill, it’s a treat”. You can hide the pill in a special food or treat that you ONLY use at pill time. Try some premium canned pet food, mashed potatoes, baby food, canned pumpkin or a Pill Pocket. Do NOT use peanut butter, cookie dough or full fat cream cheese or other cheese. Many pets are allergic to the ingredients in all of these and they are too high in fat.
3) Be sure when you hide the pill that the food is “bite-size”. You may need to cut the pill. When hiding the pill, be careful not to use too much food—you may find that ½ a Pill Pocket, for example, is sufficient. If you give too much food, then your pet will start to chew the treat and the pill will be spit out. Use the bare minimum of covering—just enough for a quick gulp!
4) Try mixing the powder from the pill with a liquid such as chicken broth or clam juice. Squirt the broth into your pet’s mouth. Most pills can be crushed or opened, mixed with water or broth and given in a syringe. This technique works very well, especially with cats. Open the capsule of the supplement or medication, or crush the pill, mix with water, broth or tuna water and syringe into your pet’s mouth. Syringes can be purchased at any drug store or at your veterinarian’s office.
5) It might be better to give the pill at a separate time away from the pet’s regular feeding schedule using a treat. Otherwise, if the pet doesn’t like the taste, they might become picky with regular meals.
6) Try putting a dab of the liquid mixture on your pet’s paw or on your fingers and see if your pet will lick it off. Many times pets might be reluctant to eat the medicine when it is on their food but will lick it off their fur or your fingertips.
7) If all else fails and your pet consistently spits out the pill, then you will need to open your pet’s mouth, place the pill quickly into the back of the mouth, close the mouth and then gently massage the throat to ensure the pill is swallowed (while holding the jaws shut). This is a lot easier than it sounds and sometimes may be your only option. Your veterinarian’s office can show you how. Often, when pets realize that they have two choices: have the pill placed in the back of their mouth or take the treat, they suddenly start to cooperate.
Compliance with pills in the end, comes down to your ability to take control of your pet and your belief in the benefits of the medication or supplement. If you don’t feel good about giving the product, then after a few days, you may find you haven’t complied with your doctor or pet health practitioner’s instructions. Understanding the benefits of what you are using will help keep you going as in many cases, giving an uncooperative pet pills does take time and can be stressful.
Thank you for being an Advanced Animal Care Center Client. We look forward to continuing to provide you with quality holistic pet care and valuable pet health information.