When you try to give a pet a pill or a capsule, you’re literally going against animal nature. Pets instinctively don’t want to swallow anything that is solid or smells ‘off’. They reflexively flinch or fight when you’re putting things into their mouth.
Here’s a primer on how to pop those pills into Priscilla’s tummy .
Prepare. Gather your supplies beforehand. If you’re going to put the pill in any sort of food, get several ‘portions’ ready.
Pocket. The preferred way to administer medicine is in a food pocket. Choose something that has a strong enough odor to hopefully mask the smell of the meds. Peanut butter, cheese, meats, and even baby food are good options. There are commercially available pill pockets in several flavors. Use high value food that is different from their normal fare.
“Pocket” the pill in the food, using the smallest amount possible, while still covering it up completely. If your dog or cat chews instead of gulps, you may find that softer foods will keep them from biting the food into pieces, and having the pill fall out.
Pro tip: After prepping the pill pocket, wash your hands, to rid it from the smell of the pill.
To pop the pill, first give a portion – or two – without the pill in it. Then give the pocketed medicine, watching to make sure it’s actually being swallowed. Follow up with another treat.
Pry. Some pets – especially cats – are way too clever to swallow your tricks. If you’re confident that your pet won’t bite you, you can gently pry open their mouth and use your hand to quickly push the pill way back into the throat. Hold the mouth closed, tilt up the nose, then stroke on the throat and/or blow gently into their nose until the pill goes down.
Popper. There is actually a device called a pill popper that you can use instead of your hand. Use the same procedure as above – hold the mouth closed and wait until the pill is swallowed. We recommend covering the end of the popper with something tasty like peanut butter or cream cheese.
Promise, Pill, Prize. With this trick, you need several really good treats. Pop the first one into your pet’s mouth (the promise), then maybe follow it by another one. Then give the pill, followed by yet another prize treat to rid the mouth of the medicine’s taste.
Peanut Butter. Smear peanut butter, spray cheese, cream cheese, or another softer substance on a counter, and hide the pill inside.
Peer Pressure. Play on your pet’s jealousy, and offer the treat with the pill in front of another pet. Your pet will not want the other pet to get the treat first. Adding a bit of competition may get that pill swallowed way more quickly.
If you have a particularly picky pet, talk to us about compounding a liquid or other method of taking medicine. If you need an advanced primer, talk to us. We can show you some of the techniques that we have used through the years – that will protect you, and help Priscilla get the medicine that she needs to get and stay healthy, happy, and fear free.