Your cat has an infection and needs antibiotics by mouth for a week, but you can’t imagine the medication going down without a fight. Read on for tips from the Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs for getting that medicine into your reluctant pet. With a little creativity and help from our dedicated team, you can successfully medicate the most challenging pet.

Be sneaky with pet meds

Pet medication can be disguised in food that is sticky and has a strong scent, such as:

  • Pill Pockets
  • Cheese
  • Turkey lunch meat
  • Peanut butter without xylitol
  • Chicken baby food
  • Hotdogs
  • Marshmallows
  • Cream cheese

When hiding meds, keep food allergies in mind, ensure the food and medication are compatible, and always use the smallest amount of food possible. 

Help the pet medicine go down

Ask if you may coat pet’s pills with a touch of cooking oil or butter to disguise the taste and help them to “go down.” Avoid esophageal irritation by “chasing” your pet’s pills with a small syringe of water or a small amount of food. Watch for crafty pets who later spit out their pills. 

Dispense liquid medication slowly into the corner of your pet’s mouth and ensure they swallow. Liquid squirted too quickly in the center of the mouth may cause pets to cough. Ask a team member to mark the proper dose on the oral dosing syringe. Check with us if you plan to open a capsule and mix the medication with food or water, because that may make the situation worse—some meds have a bitter taste. 

Lower your pet’s medication “suspicion”

If you are hiding the pill in a small amount of food, give your pet some food without the med, and then sneak in the medicated food. If you have hidden the medication in a treat, hold out two treats for your pet—one dosed and one not—and offer the medicated treat first. Often the pet will quickly eat the dosed treat to get the second. For pets who are not food-motivated, try making medicating a game or learning opportunity by tossing the treat. You can also try mixing the medication into a small amount of peanut butter that you smear onto your pet’s paw, and watch them lick their paw clean. In addition, you can try giving a dosed treat while you are walking, when your pet is distracted and unsuspecting. 

Use the pet-direct approach

If your pet refuses hidden medication, but tolerates direct administration, you may put the pill straight into their mouth, using these steps:

  • Place your hand over their muzzle, and gently squeeze close behind the canine teeth.
  • Pull down your pet’s lower jaw, and place the pill as far back into their mouth as you can safely reach.
  • Close their mouth, and gently stroke their throat to encourage swallowing.

If you would prefer to use a “pill popper” instead of your hand, ask us. Also, if you have multiple pets, administering the medication directly ensures the correct pet is treated, whereas a hungry housemate could snap up medication hidden in a treat or a food bowl. 

Never risk injuring yourself or your pet

If disguising the meds in food or masking their taste with compounded flavoring doesn’t work for your pet, ask us about topical or transdermal options. If your cat scratches when they object to the medication, ask our team how to make a “kitty burrito,” to safely wrap your cat in a towel. Spray the towel with pheromones for added calming. For extremely challenging pets, we may administer long-acting injections at our clinic, rather than asking you to medicate your pet at home. Your safety comes first, so never risk being scratched or bitten while medicating a pet at home.

Some pets are too smart for their own good, and their medication delivery methods will need to be frequently switched around. If you are working overtime to medicate your furry family member, call the Animal Clinic of Council Bluffs for help. Together, we will make a plan for successfully giving your pet the medication they need—and a plan B, and a plan C, and …