Every cat and dog will need to “take a pill” at some point in their life. When faced with the prospect of medicating their pets many owners will ask “You want me to give Fluffy WHAT?!?. Medicines for animals come in all forms: injections, oral liquids, oral tablets and topical creams or gels. These medications must be “administered” to our patients for them to be effective the question is how. Topical medications are usually fairly easy. Any injectable medications, if prescribed, will have an appointment scheduled for detailed instruction and demonstration.
That leaves the Dreaded Oral Medication. Contrary to popular belief most cats and dogs will not eat any form of medication in their food. The best method for giving Fido oral medication is to “pill” them. Pilling both cats and dogs is a 3 step process: 1 OPEN their mouth with one hand, 2 PLACE THE MEDICATION over the back of the tongue with the other hand, 3 CLOSE THEIR MOUTH and wait for them to swallow. Practice and preparation are the keys to a successful medicating adventure. Practice sessions should start VERY EARLY in your life together so when you need to give your friend medication it is a smooth process. The actual techniques of each step for cats & dogs are different as you might imagine.
Prior to giving Thor a pill place a favorite treat in a visible area. Hold the medication in your dominant hand
Step 1-Place your non-dominant hand over his muzzle, using your thumb & index finger press his lips into the gaps behind his canine teeth. The pressure of his lips on the small teeth on his upper jaw will make him open his mouth slightly.
Step 2-Holding the pill between your thumb, and index finger of your dominant hand, use your middle finger to open his mouth wide enough to place your hand into his mouth. Slide your hand into his mouth until you can push the pill over the back of his tongue. Do not worry you will not choke him with the pill. Unfortunately your hand will now be covered in slobber.
Step 3- Remove your hand and close his mouth. Hold his mouth closed until he swallows. To encourage to him to swallow you can rub his throat, blow forcefully into nose, squirt some water into the side of his mouth.
Immediately after he has swallowed give him his treat and pat yourself on the back! Then watch him for a few more minutes to make sure he hasn’t pulled a fast one on you and hidden the pill in his cheek.
Preparation for cats usually does not involve having a favorite treat visible but it won’t hurt. Instead you may want to have a beach towel handy to wrap your cat in prior to giving him the pill. If it is necessary to wrap Fluffy you will need to wrap her snuggly from her ears to her tail containing all 4 limbs in the “papoose”. Using a papoose can facilitate medicating with or without someone to hold Fluffy while you give her the pill.
Step 1-Place the palm of your non-dominant hand on top of Fluffy’s head, grasp her cheekbones with your thumb and index finger. I usually place my little finger behind her ear on the same side as your thumb and my ring finger behind her ear on the other side of her neck. This grip usually gives me good control of a cat’s head. Tilt Fluffy’s head up and back so that her chin and her chest are in a vertical line. You will notice that she cannot keep her mouth closed in this position.
Step 2- Holding the pill between your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand, use your middle finger to pull down her lower jaw. Drop the pill into the spot where her tongue meets the roof of her mouth.
Step 3- Close her mouth and wait for her to swallow. Just like Thor you can rub her throat, squirt water in the side of her mouth. One sure sign that Fluffy has swallowed is that she will lick her nose.
I know most of you think that you will be able to hide the abomination that we know as medication in a treat or a pill pocket. While this may be true in some cases, many times our pets are not feeling well and do not want to eat their regular diet or any of their treats. The medication that they are prescribed may be the key to making them feel well enough to eat or relieving pain after surgery when they cannot or do not want to eat. It is at these times when being able to pill you friend is essential. If you run into trouble remember we are just a phone call away.