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Administering Medication to Pets

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.

Comments (30)

  • sourcrout 6 Jul, 2012

    or you can just give them pill pockets you can get them at your vet or any petstore petco or petsmart.
    hhandtoto2

  • deltazetaunccdz1 16 Jul, 2008

    I have a 5yr female pomeranian. She is experiencing symetrical hair loss on her neck, sides, and hind legs. It's really bad! I have taken her to mutliple vets and had her tested for thyroid issues and adrenal issues. We also have changed her food to hypo-allergenic as well as have her spayed and nothing has helped. Does anyone know anything about this?

  • beardiebabe 16 Jul, 2008

    I have been part of the veterinary community for over 29 years; and have had 3 of my cats declawed ; who lived happy and comfortable lives indoors, where they belong after this procedure, with absolutely no side-effects or discomfort. So, "barbaric", it is not!

  • rlynelles 8 Jul, 2008

    I need to know how to use the pumpkin for cat hair balls. Do I just give it to him with his food?

  • hwharton 1 Apr, 2008

    I must disgree with the vets resolution for dogs which fear thunderstorms by rubbing a dryer sheet over there body. I have a 14 year old black lab which panics when she hears thurnder. Last year she went deaf. Since going deaf she has no reaction to thunderstorms. She can't hear the thunder therefore does not panic.

  • More4Me 27 Mar, 2008

    I've used BCP Veterinary Pharmacy's VetChews for the last two years for my kitty and they work like magic. They actually use the raw drug in a chewable treat base to make it. Both of my cats come running when they hear me opening them. I actually have to have something as a treat for the kitty that doesn't take medicine so she wont get jealous!! I think they can take almost any medication and make it into a treat.

  • More4Me 27 Mar, 2008

    I've used BCP Veterinary Pharmacy's VetChews for the last two years for my kitty and they work like magic. They actually use the raw drug in a chewable treat base to make it. Both of my cats come running when they hear me opening them. I actually have to have something as a treat for the kitty that doesn't take medicine so she wont get jealous!! I think they can take almost any medication and make it into a treat.

  • milehighlinnie 27 Mar, 2008

    We need to remember that we are at this site because we love animals. Real abuse is not getting our pets veterinary care when they need it and not giving meds as the vet instructs us to. Whatever it takes to ensure that our pets get their medication is what matters. For me and my pets Pill Pockets is the answer. The important thing is that we afford our pets the same care that we would any other member of the family and obey the doctors orders.

  • WVWC2006 26 Mar, 2008

    The ignorance of those folks making claims that clipnosis is barbaric amuses me. Upon your completion of vertebrate comparative neurological anatomy and physiology, you may then post inaccurate statements regarding something you may actually know about. If the clip were to actually hurt the cat, he would have reacted to the clip placement. From what I saw, there was only reaction to the attempt of medicating. You need to keep in mind that cats are different from you and me in many ways.

  • futurevet55 26 Mar, 2008

    I am a vet student and would like to remind everyone that veterinarians go through 8 years or more of grueling education because we LOVE ANIMALS. Clipnosis is a safe, non-painful, effective method of calming cats during a procedure that would otherwise be quite stressful. This benefits the pet, as well as the owners, and saves both from unnecessary injury. To call clipnosis "abuse" is simply absurd. Please refrain from commenting on matters about which you are not educated.

  • ProfessorPants 26 Mar, 2008

    "WORSE, YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE STUPID" yes, just like dismissing clipnosis because you have no clue what's going on. Have you actually listened to a cat's heart rate before and after a binder clip is applied to their scruff? Obviously not! I have seen cats lay down and some even start to purr after this, becoming increasingly less stressed. I think it's great that she put this on her show, especially for people who may have to pill their cats often. Become more informed before pointing fingers.

  • mic143 26 Mar, 2008

    I would like the list of home remedies,I can't find it below these messages, also I use peanut butter to get my dog to take her pills,,,works great and she thinks it's a treat.....

  • Katydid7 25 Mar, 2008

    I agree with Milehighlinnie on this one and I saw the show. My dog Rex loves these little treats for taking his arthritis meds. The pills taste really bad so these make pilling him a breeze.

  • milehighlinnie 25 Mar, 2008

    Didn't see the show but heard about it....Can't believe they didn't show Pill Pockets. They are the answer for both dogs and cats. They take their pills with no stress and it is a good quality food not junk like hotdogs etc. I have pilled a cat with cardio-myapathy twice a day for 5 years now...he loves it and it has saved his life. PIll Pockets have made life easy for both of us.

  • chocoglo 24 Mar, 2008

    I too was disappointed to see the "cruel" treatment of a cat using a binder clip. Yes, indeed those things hurt. Try it on yourself before harming your cat. My vet agreed with me on this one, too.

  • 02Curt 24 Mar, 2008

    Sorry about that, I found the list right below these messages !

  • 02Curt 24 Mar, 2008

    I would appreciate a list of the home remedies the vet suggested.

  • kalimero007 24 Mar, 2008

    A binder clip? Really?! While I agree that grabbing by the scruff of the neck is soothing and a good way to handle cats for things like medicating them, I do NOT think that a binder clip is a proper method.

    Re: comment starting, "Oh please." While OSU's vet school might study vet medicine, that is not a guarantee that the students and researchers have the best interest of our pets in mind. Case in point: the fact that many vet clinics STILL practice the barbaric removal of cat claws!

  • allya 24 Mar, 2008

    Oh please. Perhaps the Ohio State University knows a little bit more than you do. Was this technique not devised by people whose life work is taking care of animals?

  • laddlee 24 Mar, 2008

    PUT THAT BINDER CLIP ON YOUR OWN SKIN

  • laddlee 24 Mar, 2008

    You screwed up with the BINDER CLIP cat trick. Now, be sure to tell your viewers it was WRONG and straighten them out. Viewers believe everything you say

  • laddlee 24 Mar, 2008

    THOSE BINDER CLIPS ARE ABUSE! You could just as easily hold that skin betwen your fingers. Try a binder clip on your own skin!

  • laddlee 24 Mar, 2008

    SHAME ON YOU!! You cannot use a BINDER CLIP to "hypnotize" a cat

  • tenajroc 24 Mar, 2008

    THAT DR SHOULD BE SHOT! THAT CLIP!!! WHAT IS HE THINKING! THOSE CLIPS HURT ON YOUR FINGER!!! AND TO DO THAT TO A CAT?!?!?!? WORSE, YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE STUPID AND THEREFORE WILL DO STUPID THINGS. MARTHA, DO SOMETHING!!!! OMG!!

  • tenajroc 24 Mar, 2008

    THAT DR SHOULD BE SHOT! THAT CLIP!!! WHAT IS HE THINKING! THOSE CLIPS HURT ON YOUR FINGER!!! AND TO DO THAT TO A CAT?!?!?!? WORSE, YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE STUPID AND THEREFORE WILL DO STUPID THINGS. MARTHA, DO SOMETHING!!!! OMG!!

  • tenajroc 24 Mar, 2008

    THAT DR SHOULD BE SHOT! THAT CLIP!!! WHAT IS HE THINKING! THOSE CLIPS HURT ON YOUR FINGER!!! AND TO DO THAT TO A CAT?!?!?!? WORSE, YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE STUPID AND THEREFORE WILL DO STUPID THINGS. MARTHA, DO SOMETHING!!!! OMG!!

  • tenajroc 24 Mar, 2008

    THAT DR SHOULD BE SHOT! THAT CLIP!!! WHAT IS HE THINKING! THOSE CLIPS HURT ON YOUR FINGER!!! AND TO DO THAT TO A CAT?!?!?!? WORSE, YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE STUPID AND THEREFORE WILL DO STUPID THINGS. MARTHA, DO SOMETHING!!!! OMG!!

  • inthemtns 24 Mar, 2008

    I was upset by the demonstrations that went along with this segment today. The tips that Martha and Dr. Marty shared were great, and very useful for pet owners, but they could have easily been explained without having to actually shove the pills down the throats of the dog and cat. What a noise the cat let out when the vet opened his mouth!

  • Bewitched4ever 24 Mar, 2008

    I put peanut butter over the pill. Works everytime they eat it up with no questions!

  • Donna89 22 Mar, 2008

    I find that if my poodle won't take a pill I put it in a soft dog treat(snausage) and he eats the treat and the pill at the same time. Putting the pill as far back as you can may not work beause Teddy pushes it to his cheek and when I stop rubbing his throat, he promptly spits it out. Donna