Tip of the Month

3/24/2009 Administering Oral Medication to Dogs and Cats

Pet owners will often come across the challenge of having to administer oral medication to their animals, whether it be antibiotics, pain medication after surgery, or otherwise. The veterinary assistant is responsible for pilling your pet while she is still within the veterinary hospitalís walls; however, upon bringing your pet home, you will become accountable for this crucial task.

Professionals in animal jobs will tell you that opening a dog or catís mouth is a sensitive task as there is always the risk of getting bit. The biggest advantage of oral medication is that it allows you to continue your petís ongoing medications without having to give them painful injections. Oral medication can also shorten an animalís hospital stay due to the fact that oral medication may be administered at home. Many injectable medications are also manufactured in pill or liquid form.

Before departing from the veterinary facility with your pet, make sure to ask the facilityís vet assistant to demonstrate the administration of oral medication to you. He or she should be happy to do so. You can also follow the helpful instructions provided here.

Pilling a Cat
Hold the catís upper jaw over the top of her head with your thumb and index finger behind the top canine teeth. Your fourth and fifth finger should wrap around the back of the catís head, pointing it upward. Hold the pill or syringe full of liquid medication in the other hand and use one finger of that hand to pry the bottom jaw open. If the medication is in pill form, drop the pill as far back in the catís mouth as possible without allowing it to fall to the sides of the mouth. Keep in mind that the esophagus is to the left of the trachea, so the pill should be placed in the left-rear portion of the throat. You can use your finger or a pill gun (available at pet supply stores) to guide it down the esophagus, but work quickly if using your finger to avoid being bitten. Close the mouth immediately and hold it shut, stimulating swallowing by either blowing in the catís nose or massaging her throat. Make sure your cat swallows the pill; you should be able to visibly see her swallowing. Rinse her mouth with a syringe full of water. Bad-tasting pills will cause a cat to salivate excessively, which can be a problem if the medication comes back up. To limit salivation, try to act quickly to decrease the amount of time the pill is in her mouth. If your cat is resisting by pushing away with her limbs, wrap her in a towel to restrain her limbs.

Pilling a Dog
The difference between oral medication administration of canines and felines is that with a dog, you may stick your finger inside his mouth behind his upper canine teeth and apply pressure to the roof of his mouth. The sensation of your finger across the roof of the dogís mouth will coerce him to open his mouth. As with felines, use the other hand to hold the medication and open the bottom jaw. Drop the pill as far back in the mouth as possible, slightly to the left as this is where the esophagus is located. Allow his head to return to a normal position so he may swallow, and then repeat the process with a syringe full of water. If your dog is resistant to taking medication, try this trade secret used often by those in animal jobs such as your vet assistant Ė hide the pill or capsule in a piece of tasty food such as cheese or a hot dog to turn stressful medication time into a treat.

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