Pets Care & Health

Tips for Giving Your Pet A Pill

If you have a cat or a dog at home, chances are that at some point in their life you will have to give them a pill of some sort. Now, this pill is needed for them to be healthy and all, but who will convince them of that? And as pet owners who’ve gone through this struggle will tell you, this is no easy feat for a pet that just doesn’t want to take the pill. You’re going to need a few tips and tricks to get your pet to take the pill.

Hide it in food

This trick is a no-brainer. If your pet loves something, and you hide the tiny pill in there, chances are they may not even notice it as they hungrily eat their favourite foods. A great way for this to work effectively is that the food itself should be:

  1. A favorite of the pet.
  2. Strong smelling and tasting.
  3. Thick enough to cover the pill.

As a result, the strong smell and taste of the delicious food will mask the probably unappetising taste of the pill, and your dog or cat will take it easily. This is the most common way that owners administer pills to their pets, and is often recommended by several vets and online resources. It’s less work and usually gets the job done.

The problem with this approach

Although many dogs and cats will accept pills in the method described above, your cat or dog may be a different story altogether. Some animals are very picky about these things, and may eat the food and spit out the pill or refuse the pill altogether. If you’re caring for an animal like this, chances are you must be worrying about how you can get him or her to eat the pill. However, you can try some alternative approaches to administration.

Make a game of it

This kind of trick works well with very specific and picky cats and dogs. You take something they love – games – and innocuous slip the pill in when they won’t notice. Not only will this save you from the exhaustion of them refusing the medicine, it’ll also make it fun.

Chasing treats

To get your pet to eat a pill, a great way is to use the lure of chasing treats and just slipping the pill in while you’re doing it. Here’s how this game works: You can start out randomly, throughout the day, when your dog or cat doesn’t need treats. You can either throw treats at them, especially for dogs, or alternatively roll it so they can ‘chase’ the treat.

Your pet will start to view this activity as a fun time of the day when they get treats. Next, repeat it when you have to give a pill. Just push the pill into one of the treats, and slip it in between successive treats. Chances are, your pet might not even notice the difference and will eat it right up. Remember though, the treats that you need for this should be soft and malleable, so you can place the pill inside.

Create competition

Just like with humans, dogs and cats don’t like it when other people get more than they do. So if you have another animal around, you can create a sense of competition. Give one a treat, then give the other the pill hidden a treat. He or she will probably take it immediately. However, this should not be done where you already sense signs of guarding over food between the two animals.

Gel and commercial covers

If using a game doesn’t work on its own, you can also pair this technique with gel or other commercial pill covers. These don’t have an unappetising taste, so chances are your cat or dog may just take them in without a fight. Although these covers don’t come cheap, they can become a necessity with some picky eaters.

Pill alternatives

In some cases, your pet just won’t take the pill. Try out the use of some alternatives to help out in this situation.

Flavoured medication

These relatively expensive medications were made keeping pets and their tastes in mind. Just like with children’s medicines, these pills taste to your cat or dog like treats. As a result, they may take them without complaint. In addition to this, some vets and pharmacies actually prepare whole meals that can be ingested by your dog. These meals contain the medicine and probably cost a litter more than just the simple pill.

Liquid/powdered medicines

A great option, especially for cats, is the use of liquid medicines. Because these are easier to administer, they are often recommended when your pet won’t take the pill at all. You can either administer these directly using a syringe, or you can add it to your pet’s food so they take it without even noticing the difference.

Forceful pilling

Forceful pilling

The last resort when nothing else works and no alternatives are available is giving the pill by force. This process is easier in dogs, that have a natural reflex to open jaws and can be trained easily. However, it is not impossible to replicate in cats. Given the right training, your pet can be given pills this way.

Before you do this at home, do your research. If you think it is not possible for you to do, ask a vet to do it instead. This is usually a job for two people, so make sure someone is working with your throughout as well. You can use your hands to administer, or alternatively using a pilling gun if you fear that you will be bitten.

During the process, you may have to keep your cat contained as a ‘cat burrito’, as it is called. This will not only help keep her in place, but also make sure she can’t scratch you. If at any point, you feel that the dog or cat will bite you or is getting very agitated, stop and take things to a professional. And finally, at the end of it, don’t forget to give your cat or dog a treat so they know they can go back to trusting you.

General tips for pill administration

If you have to give your pet a pill, follow these simple tips to make the whole process much easier for the two of you:

  1. Your chances of success will be highest when your pet is otherwise too preoccupied to notice that he or she is taking up a pill.
  2. Remember to always check if the pill can be given with food.
  3. Consider bringing in another person who can help you keep things calm and safe.
  4. Do not risk getting bitten – if things are getting bad, stop at once.
  5. Don’t forget to consider the size of the tablet while choosing methods for administration.
  6. Stay calm throughout the administration – animals can sense how you are feeling from your demeanor and you being scared or nervous will definitely make them even more fearful of what’s coming.
  7. Some of these methods can be used together to make the process even easier.
  8. Consider your pet’s injury or sickness when deciding on the way to administer the pill.
  9. In case of any difficulties, talk to a vet immediately.


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