How To Get Your Pet To Take Medicine
Veterinarian Approved on April 8, 2010 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Kinds of Medication
When your pet is sick, or has just had surgery, chances are they need medicine of a sort. It could be an antibiotic to ward of infection, or a prescribed blood-thinner to be taken long-term. Whatever the case may be, your pet needs that drug to stay well!
The first step in helping pet take their meds is determining what kind they have:
Pills – A pill is a dose of medicine that comes in a pellet form. It is typically the active drug powdered, combined with fillers to make it stay together.
Capsules – This kind of medicine is either a powder or liquid form, enclosed in a gelatin or vegetable fiber capsule.
Liquid - The simplest form of a drug is a liquid suspension. This liquid will contain the active ingredients, and is usually administered with a dropper
It takes practice and patience to make sure your pet is taking their doses! While some pets adapt easily to pill taking, others will run and hide. Because your pet is not well, time is of the essence – so don’t give up!
Try these tips to get your pet to take their medicine. Make sure you have a treat on hand to reward your pet after (unless the medication is not to be taken with food), and speak encouragingly the whole time.
1. Pills – The number 1 easiest way to get pet to take medicine is to crush the pills and mix it up into some of pet’s food. Most of the time your pet won’t notice a difference! But make sure to check with your vet that mixing with food won’t weaken the medicine in any way.
If that doesn’t work:
2. Pill or Capsule – Kneel in front of your pet. Gently pet their head, and then lean it back a bit. Open their mouth, dropping the pill back as far as you can – then blow gently into pet’s face. Your pet should reflexively swallow immediately. If you need help, have a friend or family member hold pet from behind.
3. Liquid – Most liquid medicines come with a dropper – perfect for administering medication. Kneel in front of pet, as above. Try lowering pet’s bottom jaw. If you can’t open their mouth, simply pull down the skin around mouth from teeth. Place dropper between lips and teeth and slowly squeeze dose out. Try blowing on pet’s face to encourage them to swallow.
If your liquid medication doesn’t come with a dropper, try blending medication with food. Otherwise, droppers can be purchased at local pharmacies – and your vet should have extra for you, too.
Aside from making sure your pet takes his or her proper doses, you need to make sure of a few other things:
- Name and purpose of the medication – for reorders, or in case of side effects/drug interactions
- Dosage – how much, how often, and for how long the medicine should be taken
- Directions – how the medicine should be administered i.e. should it be taken by mouth, breathed into the lungs, inserted into the ears, eyes, or rectum, or applied to the skin.
- Instructions – any special instructions, like whether the medicine should be taken with or without food
- Storage – how the medicine should be stored
- Expiry – how long the medicine can safely be stored before it needs to be discarded (asthma inhalers, for example)
- Side effects or reactions
- Drug interactions – interactions with other medications your pet may be taking
- Missed dosage instructions – what happens if your pet misses a dose
Knowing your pet is sick can be a hard pill to swallow; getting pet to take a pill can be even harder! But it’s really quick and easy, when you take the right steps.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan