My Pet Won’t Take Pills – Now What?

pet won't take pillsMany pet owners dread giving their pet medication, just as their pet won’t take pills. If you’ve ever seen that pill, capsule, or tablet lying on the floor after giving it, you know that frustration.

Because medications are sometimes necessary to treat illness, however, it’s essential to have some tricks in your bag for delivering the goods to your pet. Since the old adage, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” is not applicable to our pets, we’ve compiled some tested ideas and methods for helping you with this task.

Follow Directions

Before you get started, one important thing to remember is that some medications have very specific instructions. Antibiotics in particular are very important to give according to your veterinarian’s instructions.

Before you leave our office, the veterinarian or technician will explain how much to give, when, and how to give it. For example, some medications are best given with food. Or, if your schedule won’t allow you to give medication 3 times a day, we may be able to switch medications or adjust the schedule to fit your needs.

Ultimately we all want your pet to get well, so let our team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates help you to come up with a workable medication schedule. If you have any questions about how a medication should be administered, please let us know.

Stay Positive

At home, when you are getting ready to start the medication, stay positive! If you feel anxious about giving it, your pet may pick up on your feelings and become anxious as well. Offer lots of praise and “atta boys” as you move through the process to keep it a positive and happy experience for all.

Bribe Them

If possible and if indicated by your veterinarian, food is a wonderful way to give medications. The key is to start with a treat, and end with a treat.

First, wrap up the pill in something tasty – the stinkier, the better! For dogs, peanut butter, cheese, turkey lunch meat, and canned food have all worked well. For cats, canned cat food is your best bet. Next, give your pet a treat that does not contain the pill. Praise, praise, and praise some more when they eat it. Then, give your pet the treat with the medication inside. Praise again, and watch carefully to make sure they eat the pill and don’t spit it out. Some dogs and cats are really talented at eating the treat around the pill, and spitting out the pill itself! If this happens, you may have to go to plan B.

Plan B

Plan B is for you to learn how to give the pill without food. This technique can take some practice and definitely takes patience. In our office, we can demonstrate the pilling technique and help you practice. Ask us for more tips on how to deliver the pill without food.

Another Plan B (Plan C?) would be to talk to us about compounding the medication into a liquid or chewable form, or giving it in a time-release injectable. This only works with some medications, but may be a possibility. Call us to discuss it if this might be helpful for you.

With patience, positivity and perseverance, giving pills can get easier and more pleasant. Remember to reward, reward, reward, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further assistance and advice. We are here to help.