Many cats and dogs dislike taking medicine – but if they need to take regular medication, tablet time can become a nightmare! Petplan looks at the best tips and tricks to get your four-legged companion to take their medicine happily and fuss-free.
How to give your dog tablets with food
Firstly, check with your vet to see whether the prescribed tablets can be given with food or if they need to be administered on an empty stomach.
If they can be given with food then often the best way to get your dog to swallow tablets is to hide them in a small amount of their food. By giving them only a small amount of their normal breakfast or dinner they are more likely to eat it (with the tablet!), and you can then give them the rest of their normal amount of food.
If this doesn’t work, coat the tablet with a soft, malleable food such as a small chewy treat. The size of the treat is important though – it needs to be small enough that your dog can swallow without chewing. Dogs are very clever, if there is some taste or texture they don’t like, then they may eat around the tablet and simply eat the treat.
Try giving a couple of small treats, and then one with the tablet concealed inside it.
How to give your dog tablets without food
If the medicine needs to be taken on an empty stomach simply get your dog to sit upright, tilt their head back and open their mouth. Place the tablet as far back on their tongue as possible and close their mouth – keeping your hands over the top and bottom of their jaw, gently massaging their throat to encourage them to swallow.
Always be calm and offer words of encouragement, followed by a treat to reward them for their good behaviour.
How to give your dog liquid medicine
If you have to give your dog liquid medicine, you should use a dropper or syringe – preferably the one which came with the medicine. Hold your dog’s head, but do not tilt it back or they may inhale and splutter on the medicine. Put the tip of the dropper into a corner of their mouth, between the cheek and the teeth, making sure that it’s pointing towards the back of their throat.
Empty the dropper into their mouth and then hold your dog’s mouth closed. Stroke their throat or gently blow onto their nose to coax them to swallow. Again always be calm and offer words of encouragement, followed by a treat to reward them for their good behaviour.
How to give your cat tablets with food
As with dogs, check whether the tablet can be given with food, or if it should be on an empty stomach.
If it can be taken with food, then similarly to dogs you can try mixing it in with a small piece of their breakfast or dinner or try pushing the tablet into the centre of their favourite tasty treat, such as a small piece of cheese or chicken.
How to give your cat tablets without food
Cats are notoriously tricky to give tablets to as they have sharp claws to contend with!
- It’s best to start with two people – one to gently hold puss and the other to administer the tablet. Once your cat becomes accustomed to tablet giving in this way, you may be able to manage to administer on your own. The key is to remain calm and relaxed which will hopefully mean your cat will remain calm too!
- Start with one person holding the cat on a stable, non-slip surface with your cat standing upright, facing away from the holder. The holder should gently hold both legs above the elbows with their arms gently pressed against the sides of your cat
- The person giving the tablet should hold the tablet between the thumb and forefinger of one hand
- Place the other hand on the top of your cat’s head (it is best to approach the cat from the side rather than from above as this is less threatening for your cat)
- The head should be gently but firmly held between the thumb and fingers, with your thumb and forefinger extending downwards to either side of the jaw at the corner of the mouth
- Gently tilt the head upwards, and use the middle finger of the hand holding the tablet to pull the lower jaw down and open the mouth
- Keep the head tilted up and quickly place or drop the tablet as far back on your cat’s tongue as you can. Aim for the centre of the tongue as far back as you can see – the further back the tablet goes the harder it is for your cat to do anything other than swallow it!
- Hold the jaw closed for a few seconds and wait for your cat to swallow. Gently rubbing the throat under the chin may help. If your cat licks his lips or nose, you know he has swallowed
- Sometimes your cat may not swallow the tablet on the first attempt and may spit it out. So long as your cat does not become distressed, you can try repeating the procedure. Always try to get the tablet as far back on the tongue as possible. Using a pill-giver can also be helpful
How to give your cat liquid medicine
When administering liquid medication, it’s a similar process. However don’t tip your cat’s head back or you run the risk of them inhaling it and choking. Instead, use a finger to pry open the lower jaw. Squirt the medicine into the pouch between the teeth and the cheek.
When giving cats tablets crush the tablet between two spoons until powdery. Then get a pouch of cat food in gravy and warm so the gravy flows freely when poured. I find putting the unopened pouch in hot water for around 30 seconds helps. Mix thoroughly a small amount of gravy and crushed pill in a non-slip bowl and let the cat eat. Normally works a treat. Likewise, with a liquid medicine do the same. Giving a small amount ensures that you can see that the medicine has been consumed.
If you have any ideas or suggestions when giving your pet’s medicine, let us know!