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Giving Pets Pills

Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker shares some simple tips for giving pets medication.
The Martha Stewart Show, March 2008

If you've ever tried giving medication to your pet, whether it's heartworm medication or an antibiotic, you know how difficult it can be. In an online survey conducted February 2008, nearly 70 percent of all respondents indicated they've had difficulty "pilling" their pets.

The Best Spot in the Mouth to Place the Pill
For a pill or capsule, you have to reach inside the mouth and get it over the base of the tongue. Then you quickly hold the pet's mouth closed and gently give a puff of air in the pet's face/nostrils that will cause the pet to swallow reflexively.

What to Do for a Dog's Sensitive Mouth
It's not natural for most dogs to have their mouth pried open. Plus some dogs might have dental disease and it's painful when their mouth is opened. There are products that the dog or cat will consume readily, thinking of them as a treat, not a treatment. These type of products include those produced from a compounding pharmacy such as flavored tablets or tasty liquids with the medication mixed in. You can also ask your veterinarian for a liquid medication that can be poured in the corner of the pet's mouth without having to open the jaw.

How to Give a Cat a Pill
Wrap the cat in a towel like a burrito (the towel comforts the cat and protects you from the claws), then open the cat's mouth. If you can't safely and gently open the cat's mouth, there's a product called the Cat-A-Piller that can be put in the corner of a cat's mouth that releases a flow of water with the pill without opening its jaws.

You can ask the vet for liquid medication rather than pills (if available). Better yet, use the flavored liquids from compounding pharmacies and cats will happily lick from the spoon. Get medication in a transdermal form that, when applied to the inside of the ear flap, provides for penetration of the drug through the skin. This method has been used for treating hyperthyroidism in cats, but also for heart disease, high blood pressure, behavioral problems, and bacterial infections.

Resources
Products used in today's segments are Bullseye Pillgun, Cat-A-Pillar, Flavorx, and Vet Chews.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Dr. Marty Becker for demonstrating these medication techniques.