Part of being a responsible pet owner is following the recommendations of your trusted veterinarian. If you’re lucky enough to share in your pet’s life from puppy- or kittenhood through to senior citizen status, at some point in that long lifespan, your veterinarian will undoubtedly recommend medications you will need to administer to your pet.
The thought of medicating their four-legged family members strikes fear in the hearts of many pet owners—especially cat owners. We understand that medicating some animals isn’t easy, and it causes stress in the household. You may worry about damaging the bond you share with your pet, and it certainly feels terrible when your pet avoids you, fearful you’re going to push a pill down the throat.
Medications in veterinary medicine run the gamut from prescriptions that help your pet feel better, to prescriptions that prevent disease, and your veterinarian will only prescribe a medication that will benefit your pet. When medications are not given as directed, the patient is being undertreated. In addition to the potential consequences of bacterial resistance, the pet’s healing is delayed, the pet feels discomfort or pain, or a chronic illness, such as congestive heart failure, kidney disease, diabetes, or hypothyroidism, is poorly controlled. Nobody wants that.
The good news is that we are here to help. Here are our tips for you to use from the time you’re handed your pet’s prescription until the medication goes down the hatch.
Step 1: Review the medication with our team
Before you leave our office, take time to review your pet’s medications with the veterinarian or another member of our team. You’ll want to check:
- The dose — Is it half a pill, a whole pill, or more than one pill?
- The frequency — Some medications are given twice a day, while others are given more or less frequently. If your schedule does not allow you to give the medications when recommended, ask for another drug with a different schedule. If you work eight-hour days, you cannot give a medication six times a day.
- How the medication is given — Is the medication given by mouth or applied to the eye? These details matter.
Step 2: Ask for a demonstration
If you are unsure how to administer the medication, ask a team member to show you. Pilling a cat can be intimidating, but we can give you some tips of our trade. Similarly, applying ointments or eye medications can be trickier than expected. Most medicated shampoos will have specific instructions, too. Ensure you know how to administer your pet’s new prescription before you leave our office.
Step 3: Set reminders
Set alarms or calendar reminders on your phone before you leave the clinic parking lot. Forgetting to give medications is common, but if you’re alerted every eight hours, you stand a better chance of making it happen. These reminders are particularly important for medications administered only once a month, such as heartworm, or flea and tick preventives.
Step 4: Administer the medication
Give the medication at the appointed time. If you’re lucky, an oral medication will taste like a treat. If not, don’t fret. While many pets—especially dogs—are eager to take their medications wrapped in a tasty treat, some pets—especially cats—are not so easily fooled. If your pet is food-motivated, you can hide oral medications in a favorite food, such as:
- Hot dogs
- Cheese cubes or Easy Cheez
- Peanut butter that you confirm does not contain the sugar substitute xylitol
- Lunch meats
If your pet absolutely cannot be fooled into taking the meds, consider purchasing a pill gun, which is a long, plastic tube with a plunger that can medicate your pet without you losing a finger. Or, consider having the medication compounded into a more palatable formulation. Compounding pharmacies can create medications in a variety of flavors. This may cost more, but if medicating your pet is easier, it’ll be worth it.
If you realize when you get home that although you watched our easy pilling techniques, you’ve forgotten it all, have no fear. Contact us and let us walk you through your options. Our goal is a healthy pet and a happy owner.