Insider tips: How to #pill your #cat or #dog

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Insider tips: How to get your dog or cat to take their medication

You just got home from a visit with your veterinarian and in front of you are two things: Fluffy and a vial full of pills. Your vet has told you that if Fluffy is going to get healthy, she needs to take her medication. I know what you are thinking "She wont take that! I can't pill my pet!" You may be right- your pet may not want to willingly take a tablet. You may need to try a few times, or get creative. Not everyone nails it on the first try. Most pet owners will visit their veterinarian at least once a year, and occasionally have to give a dog or cat pill form medication. I have learned a trick or two from fellow pet owners and veterinary professionals. Here are some of my tips for a pet owner trying to give a dog or cat a pill.

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How to pill your dog

If you don't have a Labrador retriever who gobbles up anything, you may be stuck with a reluctant Fido who wont take his medication. This can make pilling your dog a struggle. We have all heard the same old tips: hide it in food, like cheese, or crush it up and mix it into food. But many of us don't give our dogs credit, they are really smart! Many of them have already figured out these pet owner life hacks. I have a few ideas you may not have tried yet.

First of all, be casual about it. I like to use an example I heard from a rep at a leading veterinary food company: you are a pet owner who brings home a new food. Everyday you just put Fido's food down and walk away, but today you are hovering over him, staring. Waiting. He is not going to eat that, because you are acting pretty weird and frankly, today he doesn't trust you. So just act like the pill is a treat. Don't weird him out. Act natural.

My number one tip for giving a dog a pill that works almost every time: the shake trick. Keira, my Saint Bernese hates taking medication, but she loves liver treats like Crumps and Benny Bullys®. Anyone who uses these products knows that at the bottom of the bag is lots of, well, lets just call it liver dust. I keep this powdery residue and when my mutt needs to take a pill, I lightly dampen the tablet and then I shake it in the "dust." Once it is coated with dust she gobbles it right up. You can even shake pills in a bag of your dog's kibble. Another idea: does your dog catch treats that you throw to him? If so start by throwing a few
treats. On your fourth round, throw the pill. I bet he will catch it.

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How to pill your cat

This can be much harder- and it is not just because Fluffy has more attitude than Fido. Dogs have elongated snouts and larger mouths that make it easier to pill them. If the medication can be given with food then encasing it inside a food your cat likes sounds like a safe bet, but many cats will bite into the pill or just eat the food and spit the pill out. Liquid oral medications are often the way to go for felines, but lets face it, that is not always an option. I love Greenies Pill Pockets® for both cats and dogs. They are soft and tasty treats designed to hide pills. The soft texture is easy for cats to swallow. You can also purchase a pill popper or pill gun which is a plastic tubular tool used for pilling a cat.

First thing to remember is to be calm and don't be afraid to restrain your cat. Wrap her in a towel with her paws tucked in so that she can't kick or scratch at you. This way she is completely restrained with only her head available, which is fine because that's the only part you need! Then you can try to open your cat's mouth and put the tablet towards the back of her tongue. If that is still not working then ask your vet if you can crush the medication up and mix it into a liquid. If you can, then I have a great tip for pilling your cat!

Ask your vet if they have any oral syringes you can have. Crush the pill up and mix it with water- or dress it up a little and mix it with chicken stock or juice from a can of tuna. Then suck it up in the syringe and squirt it in your cat's mouth. Many pet owners crush the pill up and mix it in their cat's food, only to have their cat turn their nose up at it. Why waste an expensive pill? Why change medications? If you can crush the pill into a liquid you will be able to medicate your cat almost every time!

I hope this helps all the pet owners who can't pill their cat or dog. Remember all medications are different, so it is really important to read the label and talk to your veterinarian about the best way to use it!

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