“Oh no,” you think to yourself, when the veterinarian hands you a large bottle of what appears to be capsules big enough for a horse. “How am I supposed to get these into my dachshund to treat that infected tooth?”

Medicating your pet is not always easy, and can seem impossible at times. If, despite your best efforts, your furry pal spits out every pill, dodges every eye drop, and bolts when they see a tube of ear ointment coming their way, we’ve got the perfect tips for you. Read on to learn how to medicate your pet like a pro.

#1: Enlist help medicating your pet

Medicating pets is often a team sport that requires an assistant or two. If your pet is particularly wiggly, or easily distracted by food or a toy, enlist a friend or family member to help. Your helper can hold your pet still, using gentle restraint methods, or take their focus off the medication being administered. Instruct your helper to dole out treats, encourage toy chewing, or massage your pet’s favorite spot, to sufficiently distract them. 

#2: Reward your pet for their cooperation

Your pet can easily become afraid when they are on the receiving end of eye drops, ear ointment, or a pill. Reward them heavily during and after their medication session, to promote a positive association with this sometimes unpleasant task.

#3: Trick your pet into accepting their medication

Does your pet eagerly gulp down treats as quickly as you can dish them out? If so, this trick may work perfectly to orally medicate your pet. Begin by offering them a plain treat, and making a big fuss about its delicious taste. Ideally, your pet should inhale this snack, and eagerly look for more. As your pet waits impatiently for their next treat, slip the “doctored” treat into the mix—this is the treat or pill pocket that contains your pet’s medication. Follow up quickly with another plain treat, all while amping up your pet’s excitement over the treats, to ensure they eat them rapidly. 

#4: Swaddle your pet

Cats and small dogs often respond beautifully to being swaddled when medicated. Wrap your pet in a large towel, leaving only their head exposed. This prevents them from using their paws and claws to wiggle out of your grasp, and helps stabilize their head for oral, eye, or ear medication administration. 

#5: Make medication time a pet competition

Do you have a household of super-competitive pets? Whether they always snag the best seat on the sofa, or binge on more than their fair share of treats, your pet’s competitive nature can make medicating easier. For oral medications, give all your pets treats at the same time, ensuring you give the medicated treat to the right pet. They will want to prevent anyone else from snatching their snack, so they’ll gulp it down, not realizing the treat is hiding their medication. 

Eye and ear medications can be trickier to turn into a competition, but if you can easily make one pet jealous by paying attention to another pet, loving on another pet may work well. Rub your other pet’s ears, or pet their face, focusing around their eyes, similar to administering ear or eye medication. The pet who needs to be medicated may want their fair share of attention and push in, demanding equal love. Quickly administer the ear or eye medication, and follow up with a snuggle and praise.

#6: Ask if your pet’s medication can be given in a different form

Is getting a capsule into your cat without it disintegrating almost impossible? Or, does your dog always crunch their tablet into a million pieces and spit out half? If so, talk to our team about compounding options. We may be able to compound your pet’s medication into a liquid form, or a gel form that is applied to their inner ear flap. Some medications can be given in the clinic as a long-lasting injection. No matter how difficult your pet may be, a medication form is available for a successful treatment.

Are you struggling to medicate your pet successfully? End the daily battles, and contact our Mountain Legacy Veterinary Center team for support and advice.