How to Give Oral Medications to your Pets

Written by Tricia W., Veterinary Technician

The thought of having to give oral medications to your pet can be a little scary for some people. There are a few methods that you can try to help make this job easier. First you can ask your veterinarian if the medication comes in a liquid form.

For most dogs and cats the easiest thing to do is to just hide the pill in some food. If your pet eats wet food just take a small amount and hide the pill inside like a meatball and give it that way. If  your pet only eats dry food, you can pick up a can of wet food from North Town veterinary hospital or a bag of pill pockets. Pill pockets are small dog and cat treats that you can hide a pill in. When giving a pill pocket give one without a pill first so they know it’s just a treat.

In some cases your pet will catch on to what you are doing and learn how to eat everything around the pill and then spit it out. This is okay you may just need to try a different food. There are a variety of foods you can use like hotdogs, cheese, peanut butter just be sure to use a small amount and nothing too high in fat.

No matter what you hide the pill in, some pets just seem to find it and spit it out.  Some pills can be crushed up and hidden in the food but not all, so please check with your veterinarian before crushing up any medications.

If all this fails and your pet will not eat any of the food you try to hide the pills in or they need to take meds on an empty stomach you will just have to pill the old fashioned way of putting the pill down his or her throat.  You can use your hand or you can get a “piller”.

With cats and small dogs it sometimes helps to place then up high on a table if possible. You can also try wrapping them in a towel or blanket to help keep them still.

1. Hold the pill in the fingers of one hand. Place that hand on your dog’s lower jaw and the other hand on his upper jaw. Lift his head up toward the ceiling.

2. Open your pet’s mouth and twist your hand around so you can insert the pill. Place the pill to the side of your dog’s tongue as far back as you can reach, and then quickly withdraw your hand/ piller as you close your dog’s jaws.

3. When the pet’s head is held back like this it makes it very difficult for them to close their mouth on your hand.  Close the mouth quickly and keep it closed while gently stroking his throat downward. This will encourage them to swallow. In some cases blowing in their face will also force them to swallow. You can also ask your veterinarian for a syringe and you can use it to wash the pill down with some water.

4. As soon as you think your pet has swallowed the pill, offer him the tasty treat so that he takes it and swallows again when he takes the treat.

Right after pilling your pet, keep an eye on him or her for a minute or two. Some pets learn to hold the pill in their mouth and then spit it out when you’re not paying attention.

If you are giving liquid medications you do not need to open the mouth but just squirt it into the side of the mouth close to the back molars.

The team at our Brampton emergency animal clinic are available to help you learn how to give your pets oral medications. Do not hesitate to ask your veterinarian during your appointment or request to meet with a technician who can instruct you through the process.

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