Perhaps you rank medicating your pet right up there with having a root canal. Maybe you would rather wrangle a snake than hold down your squirming, spitting cat who is resisting a syringe full of medication. While medicating your dog or cat may never be fun, our tips and tricks may make it easier for you both. 

Ensure you clearly understand the directions

Before you leave our hospital, go over the instructions thoroughly and carefully with our veterinary team to ensure you understand exactly how to administer the medication. 

  • How you give the medication — Not all medications are administered orally, and owners have been known to put their pet’s eye, ear, or skin medications into their mouth. Likewise, eye, ear, and skin conditions may require oral administration, so read carefully to ensure you give each medication correctly.

  • When you give the medication — Typically, doses given multiple times per day are spaced evenly apart (e.g., medications given three times a day are typically administered every eight hours), but clarify when each dose should be administered. Pay attention to timing details, such as whether a medication should be administered after eating, or on an empty stomach.

  • Treatment duration — The label should specify how long you need to administer each medication. Always complete the entire course of treatment, no matter if your pet’s condition seems to be resolved. Also, check to see if you will need a refill. Chronic disease treatments are often administered for several months, or needed life-long, and you may need to pick up more medication when—or before—you run out. 

Our team is happy to answer your questions about medicating your pet, and to demonstrate how it is done. Ask as many questions as you need before leaving, or call us for clarification. 

Administering your pet’s medication

Before you begin, prepare all the necessary supplies so you can administer the medication quickly once your pet is ready. Follow these helpful hints for different types of medications:

  • Tablets or capsules — The easiest way to give your pet a pill is by wrapping it inside a favorite treat, such as cheese or a piece of hot dog. Dogs are more likely to accept medications this way than cats, who are more suspicious of disguised medications. If your pet realizes that her bite of cheese always contains a pill, try creative wrappings, such as peanut butter, braunschweiger, meat-flavored baby food, or commercial treats with a pill pocket. 

If your pet will not swallow her treat-covered medication, you will need to pill her, which will require a helper to hold her while you give the medication. After the helper has restrained your pet, open your pet’s mouth, place the pill in the back of her throat, quickly close her mouth, and keep her mouth closed by wrapping your hand around it. Gently stroke under your pet’s neck to encourage her to swallow, and then check inside her mouth to ensure the pill is gone.

  • Liquid medication — Carefully draw up the correct medication amount into the syringe provided. While a holder restrains your pet, hold your hand loosely around her muzzle, and insert the syringe tip through her lips on the side of her mouth, between her teeth behind the large canines. Slowly inject the medication and ensure she swallows it.

  • Eye medications — Eye medications come in drop and ointment forms. For eye-drop administration, you will need a helper to hold your pet and position her head with her eye looking upward. Hold your pet’s eye open with your thumb and pointer finger of one hand, and gently squeeze the prescribed number of drops from the bottle with your other hand. If your pet is prescribed an eye ointment, have a helper put your pet in the same position and, using your thumb, pull her lower eyelid away from her eye to create a small pocket between her eyeball and eyelid. Squeeze a small amount of ointment into this space, release her eyelid, and gently rub the lid to distribute the medication. Take care to avoid the tip of the tube touching her eye or skin.
  • Ear medications — You may be instructed to clean your pet’s ears before applying medication. Follow directions carefully, because some cleaners inactivate medications, and cleaning must be performed 30 to 60 minutes beforehand to allow the ears to thoroughly dry. To administer the medication, hold you pet’s ear open, squeeze the prescribed amount into her ear canal, gently massage the medication into the canal, and wipe away any extra that runs out of her ear.

What if you cannot give your pet her medication?

If your pet refuses to accept a prescribed medication, contact us immediately. We may be able to prescribe the medication in a different form that your pet will accept, or you can bring her to the hospital and we can medicate her. We will find a way to ensure your furry friend receives her necessary treatments. 

If you have questions about medicating your pet, contact us.