Imagine this: you’re trying to give your cat or dog medicine they need, but they’re finicky — retreating into a corner, spitting it back out, howling or scratching at you with a vengeance.
For many pet owners, this situation sounds all too familiar. Most pets need medication at some point in their lives to treat an injury or manage short- to long-term diseases.
Giving them the medication they need can be challenging, but not impossible — especially once you’ve got a few tricks up your sleeve. Make it a fur-ry easy affair with these 5 tips and tricks for giving medicine to your pet*!
*Before proceeding with any advice, always consult your veterinarian to ensure that there aren’t issues such as giving the medicine with wet and dry food, crushing tablets or opening capsules.
Hide the medicine in food
Hiding a tablet or two in your pet’s food isn’t new. However, it’s one of the more straightforward ways to give fractious furry friends their medication. It’s also another way you can sneak in oral supplements that can help to strengthen their overall wellbeing:
This trick works the best with mildly flavoured medicines and supplements. If your pet dislikes the flavour, they might turn up their super-sensitive nose at any traces of the medication in their food. If this happens, try mixing it with strong-smelling and flavoured wet food such as beef¹. This will help to mask the flavour of the medication more effectively while still maintaining its appeal to your pet.
Note: Check that your pet has eaten the surrounding food and the hidden medication. Only re-medicate when you’re sure that none of the medication was swallowed².
Treat them to some game time
If hiding your pet’s medication in their food doesn’t work, there’s nothing like some friendly competition! Wrap the tablet of capsule up in a strong meat-flavoured treat, or even “stick” them onto a dental stick. With dogs, it is best to hype them up by over-exaggerating your movements before putting the treat directly into their mouth. This will encourage them to chow down on it without a second thought!
If you need to “stick” the medication onto the treat, you can do so with a 100% natural peanut butter with no added salt or sugar.
This is a particularly effective trick if you’ve got more than one pet in the house³. Most dogs will eat the medicated treat quicker in their excitement with other dogs around.
Another strategy that may work with some felines is giving an actual treat first. Follow up with the medicated treat, then finish it off with another un-medicated treat.
Place it on top of your pet’s front paws
If your pet has been prescribed a powder or liquid, you can try mixing it in a soft and yoghurt-like texture and smearing them onto a treat to place on the top of your pet’s front paws!
Dogs and cats typically dislike anything that’s placed on their paws, so they will try to lick off the medicated food quickly.
Put it all in a pill
An edible and hollow pill, that is! This is also a time-saving strategy if your pet needs to take multiple medications. Gelatin capsules are more common and can be filled with the medication(s) your pet needs and will provide a flavourless barrier between the medicine, particularly if they dislike its taste and texture.
You can hide this capsule in your pet’s food, in a treat or directly into your pet’s mouth at the back of their tongue.
You need to get the capsule past the “hump” in your dog’s tongue — once you’ve done that, you can close their jaw and gently stroke the throat downwards to encourage swallowing*. This downward motion can also be used for other pets!
Note: Such gelatin capsules can be easily purchased from your veterinarian.
Associate medicine time with rewards!
If all else fails, your last resort would be to make your pet associate medicine-taking with rewards strongly and unknowingly.
Reward your pet after their medication with something they enjoy, like the “primer” treat method for felines covered in the third point, playing with their favourite toy or going on a walk.
We hope that these tips will help in getting your pet to cooperate and take their medicine. Shop for more wellness essentials across a wide range of categories:
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¹ ³ Diamond Pet Foods 2021, 7 tips and tricks for giving medicine to your pet, Schnell & Kampeter. Inc, viewed 16 September 2021
² Buzby, J 2016, Your dog won’t take pills? 5 easy solutions for uncooperative pooches, Dr. Buzbys ToeGrips, viewed 16 September 2021
⁴ Burke, A 2021, 6 tips for giving your dog pills, American Kennel Club, viewed 27 September 2021