A while back there was a particularly funny e-mail circulating about pilling a cat.  What made us laugh was the rather large kernel of truth within the humor.  Who hasn’t experienced the frustrations of trying to get a pill inside your pet first hand…only to have it end up on the floor or wall.  This is a rerun of an earlier post but we could all use the refresher.

The easiest and most time honored way to give a pill remains hiding it in something else If you can get your pet to take a pill this way and he/she is not on any food restriction this is still the best method.  One of our favorites at Animal Family is Pill Pockets made by Greenies.  They are a meat flavored soft treat that molds around the pill.  A large number of both dogs and cats will happily take their medications in a Pill Pocket.  Other choices are peanut butter, cheese, yogurt and canned food.  Just make sure your pet doesn’t spit the medication out.

If your pet either won’t eat a hidden pill or eats around it, you may have to do it the old fashioned way.  Even then, it is possible to make the process easier.

  • Make sure your pet is in a safe area.  For dogs we recommend either having their butt in a corner where they can’t back away.  Small dogs and cats should be placed on a counter or other raised surface.
  • Stand to the side of your pet.  Cats and small dogs should be placed in the crook of your elbow.  Don’t approach your pet from the front. 
  • Coating the pill with butter will give it a slippery and yummy tasting coating.
  • Tilt your pets head back.  For large dogs you may just place your fingers behind the canines and pull upward.  A gentle squeeze at the corner of the jaws works best for smaller pets.
  • Once their mouth is open you will need to get the pill far back in the mouthThis is the scary part for most owners so we recommend that you use a pet piller.  This can literally take the bite out of pilling.
  • In one smooth motion, place the piller so the tip is at the back of the mouth and depress the plunger to release the medication.
  • Leaving the head tilted backwards, immediately close your pet’s mouth and blow into their nose.  Return the head to a normal position and gently rub the throat until you see swallowing…  Be careful not to get in your pet’s face.  Make sure you are above and to the side or back of the pet’s mouth when you blow.  If your pet is aggressive…don’t get close to his/her face.
  • Make sure your pet has swallowed before releasing him/herLook for swallowing or licking of the lips.

What happens if your pet is like the cat in the funny e-mail?  If you absolutely can’t get pills down your pet there is another option…Compounding.  Most medications can be compounded into taste tabs, liquid suspensions or topical gels.  It may involve some additional cost but can be a life saver with a non-cooperative animal.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian especially is your pet is on maintenance medications

Remember, if you don’t feel confident, please don’t attempt this without help from your veterinarian.