Tuesday, November 11, 2014
How to pill your dog or cat- it's not as hard as you think!
There are so many things that pet owners think are SO HARD and SO STRESSFUL and often, they aren't- the owner just hasn't been educated on how to make it easier. Pilling a sick dog or cat is one of these issues. They make pill guns for dogs and cats, but my vets have told me they have seen more injuries from these devices than you can shake a stick at. So here is a primer on how to pill a dog or cat with little stress for the owner or the animal.
Dogs are a breeze. Yes, you can put the meds in peanut butter or cream cheese (a dog will go for cream cheese like a crazed maniac). It also doesn't stick in the dog's mouth along with the pill which is now dissolving and tasting very bad for your dog. If you pill your dog wrongly, you may see the dog's mouth foam like crazy and you will be tempted to flip out. Don't. This is just the dog's saliva glands working overtime to get the nasty taste out of its mouth. So let's not have that happen. If you have one of those dogs who "knows" there is something in the piece of ham (another great method) or cream cheese, you will have to work a little harder. First of all, coat the tablet in butter, and if it's a capsule, do the same- it makes it slippery and easier to get down. Now, this is the part you really have to do right. Put the dog either higher than the ground or stand behind the dog (this is better for large dogs). Open their jaw and place the slippery pill so far back on their tongue that you can almost feel the soft tissue of their palate- WAY BACK. Then shut their mouth and stroke their throat. If they lick their lips, the pill has gone down. If they hack, you are back to square one and it's gonna be harder b/c now they know what's coming and the tablet or capsule is starting to disintegrate.
Now you have two options. Try fast to repeat the above steps or take the nasty pill and put it aside and try again in an hour. If you are having trouble doing this alone, have someone else stand in front of the sitting dog to open their jaw, and you stand behind them and put the pill way back in the dog's throat. Most owners make the mistake of not placing the pill far enough back or not making the pills slippery enough to slide down the dog's throat. Why put a smaller dog up high and stand behind a large dog? It makes small dogs uncomfortable to be up high and they are preoccupied with that and tend to not fight the pill as much. As for the large dogs, standing behind the SITTING DOG (no standing when you pill a dog), lets the dog know you are in charge and they can't back out which is what they will want to do. As you can tell from the picture below, this woman's hand is almost all the way in the dog's mouth and that is just how you want it to be.
Cats- yuck. It's just a pain in the butt, and can be a pain everywhere if the cat fights the process and leaves you scratched up. Try to hide in the stinkiest cat food (canned) you can find- something the cat would kill for. Use a SMALL AMOUNT OF FOOD, not the whole can. That way you can see if the pill was ingested. Don't crumble a tablet or empty a capsule into the food b/c cats have an amazing sense of smell and they will take one sniff and walk away. Even the most enticing canned food won't work if they can smell the evil bitter meds. Now, if that doesn't work, the hard work starts. If you have never pilled a cat before I recommend two people and a large towel. Stay very quiet and calm and try to keep the cat in a place they are familiar with- in other words, don't bring an outside cat in the house to pill them- or vice versa- but make sure they are in a semi enclosed place so they can't run away- small bathrooms work well. If you have a suspicious or shy cat who is an outside cat, bring them in. Otherwise they won't come near you for a month. :) Have one person wrap the cat's body in a towel as fast and as tight as you can. Try for no claws sticking out, obviously. Do the same thing with the pill as you do with a dog- coat it in butter. Now this is where sheer bravery and expedience are needed (not easy for a first timer or an old timer). Sit behind the cat, who is now wrapped up and open their jaw and stick that pill in way back, way fast. The picture below shows how to sit behind and above a cat but this is also the stance you have to have with a large dog. You are NOT SITTING ON THE CAT!!! Both dogs and cats will try to back out rather than go forward so I have found the " come from the back of the animal" to work much better than coming at the animal from the front. Cats are not nearly as forgiving as dogs and their teeth HURT. If the cat is really sick and you have to do this over a series of days, the cats will eventually just let you do it. If not, and the cat is a fighter, wear garden gloves or leather gloves and just aim as far back as possible. If it just is not going to happen, call your vet and ask them for ideas (pill guns do work on cats if you are very careful, but you will still have to restrain the cat well.