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How To Give Your Pet A Pill

A variety of techniques to get pills into pets

 

MetPet.com Staff Writer

So you have your cat or dog in one hand and a pill in the other.  For some reason, you just can't figure out how to get the two together.  Unlike pet palatable tablets, regular pills smell like medicine and have a bitter taste.  Most pets will not willingly swallow pills so here are a few tricks: 

For the really skilled
You can gently open the mouth, place the pill on the back of the tongue and then hold the jaws closed with the nose up while you gently stroke the throat using a downward motion.   This encourages swallowing. 

If you're comfortable handling your pet, this is the easiest, fastest and least traumatic method.  This is especially important to learn if you have to give many pills to the same pet on a frequent basis.  For some reason we've had much more success with cats than with dogs using this method. 

Don't make a big fuss over the pill, approach your pet nonchalantly (it's never a good idea to call your pet to you if he isn't going to be happy about it) and give plenty of praise afterwards. 

Food capsules
For dogs, you can hide pills inside food.  The smaller the pill and the larger the dog the easier this is. 

Our favorite method is to use a wide, metal cheese slicer and make several thin slices of one of the stiffer cheeses. Cheddar cheese makes the best pill-hider because it can be made into firm, thin slices and we haven't met a dog who won't eat cheddar.

Take a slice of cheese and roll the pill into it as if you were rolling a cigar.  Use several slices if the pill is extra big.  Fold over the ends and then squeeze it in your hand.  Your body heat turns the cheese into a 'capsule' that completely encloses the pill and fools the dog into thinking it's a really big wad of cheese.

The trick is to make the biggest capsule of cheese that your dog will eat without chewing very much if at all.  A cynical, highly suspicious and dexterous dog can place the cheese inside his mouth, swallow the treat and spit the pill out.  It's important to check the floor to make sure the pill was ingested. 

If you don't have cheese, you can try some soft, doughy bread.  Dipping the bread capsule into butter, peanut butter or something equally yummy will improve your chances of getting the pill into your dog.

Crush and sprinkle
If the pill isn't terribly bitter or smelly, you can crush it and add it to food.  Take a sheet of paper and fold it into fourths.  Place the pill inside the folds, place it on a hard surface and tap it gently with a hammer or other hard object like the heel of your shoe.  Unfold the paper and slide the contents into the bowl.  Mix well with a strong-tasting, strong-smelling food like liver paste or canned dog food.

If you have to give pills on a regular basis, you can purchase a pill crusher at a drugstore. 

Load and shoot
There is a pill-injection product on the market.  Basically a large syringe without the needle, it "shoots" the pill into the back of the throat.  Ask your vet about safety since a pill could get "shot" into your pet's windpipe.
 

 
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