Tricks to Make Your Dogs and Cats Swallow Their Pills

Cat hiding under table
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Your veterinarian makes it look so easy: Pill. Pet. And like a magic trick, suddenly the pill is inside the pet, the pet seemingly none the wiser.

If only it were that easy for you.

You go home, and you can't even find your cat when it's time for medication. Under the bed? Maybe. Behind the couch? Maybe not. How does the cat know, and how is he able to disappear as if by another talented magician?

Your dog is only marginally easier, maybe. Not quite as fussy as your cat, he'll eat the pill if it's hidden in something yummy, or so you think. But later you find the pill on the kitchen floor, and you realize he was somehow able to extricate the yummy stuff from the medicine and hide the pill in his jowls for spitting out later. Outsmarted again!

You figure it's a victory if you get half the pills in for half the number of days they're prescribed, and you hope that's good enough.

Problem is, it's not. One of the biggest problems veterinarians have in helping your pet get better is ... you. If you aren't able to follow through with medications, your pet will likely be back at the vet.

Do you dread walking out of your veterinarian's with pills? Here are some strategies to make the pill-popping easier:

  • Pop and treat. Have your veterinarian demonstrate. Always start with a positive attitude and end with a treat and praise. You can find "pill guns" through pet retailers that help with getting the pill quickly in the right place.
  • Stealth. Perhaps the most popular method is to hide the pill in something cats love, although most cats figure this out soon enough and start eating around the pill. Try treats that are designed for pill-popping: They're yummy little bits with pockets for hiding the treats.
  • Presto-chango. For pets who just won't tolerate pills (or people who just hate giving them), ask your veterinarian about using a compounding pharmacy. These businesses take all manner of medications and turn them into edible treats in pet-friendly flavors.
  • New technologies. Ask your veterinarian for the latest options. The medication you're using may be available in an easier-to-use format, such as trans-dermal.

No matter what, always give pet medications exactly as prescribed and to the end of the supply. If you have questions or problems, or if the condition hasn't improved after the medications are gone, you must call your veterinarian for advice for the health of your pet.

If you need help, ask! Your veterinarian wants your pet to get better just as much as you do.

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