Being a pet owner comes with its joys, but it also brings its fair share of challenges. One common hurdle many pet owners face is the task of giving their furry friends medication. Whether it’s popping a pill, applying eye ointment, or dosing ear medication, the struggle is real. However, fear not! Our Town & Country Animal Hospital, PC team has gathered our professional tips to bring you a comprehensive guide on effectively and safely medicating your pet.

How to administer oral medication to your pet

Giving your pet pills or liquids can be a daunting task as you venture near their razor-sharp teeth, but with the right approach, it can be much more manageable. Here are some tips to help:

  • Hide medication in food — Many pets are treat enthusiasts. Concealing the pill in a favorite food, such as liverwurst, canned tuna, or peanut butter, can make the process enjoyable for your furry friend. Ensure the food is soft enough to mold around the pill, yet firm enough to retain its shape, and watch your pet gobble it up without suspecting a thing.
  • Pop tablets in pill pockets — If your pet is savvy and tends to dig pills out of food, consider using commercially available pill pockets. These tasty pouches are designed to encapsulate medication, making it easy for your pet to swallow them whole without detection.
  • Make a slurry — With some medications in tablet form, you may be able to crush the tablet into powder and mix it with water or a canned food slurry to administer with a syringe. Ask our team if it is OK to crush tablets or mix liquids before doing so to ensure it is safe to administer the medication this way.
  • Use a pill dispenser — Invest in a pill dispenser designed for pets. These devices help to place the pill at the back of your pet’s throat, ensuring a successful and stress-free administration.
  • Ask for compounded alternatives — Sometimes, it’s simply impossible to safely get oral medication into a pet, or they may be incredibly skilled at spitting it back out, rendering it ineffective. In these cases, compounded alternatives may be available. Compounding pharmacies can add tantalizing flavors to chewable tablets or liquid medications, or formulate a transdermal medication that can be applied to the ear flap. 

How to administer eye medication to your pet

Applying eye drops or ointment requires a steady hand and a calm pet. Follow these steps to make the process smoother:

  • Sit behind your pet — Instead of coming at your pet’s face with a suspicious bottle or tube, sit behind them. Place a cat or small dog on your lap, or stand behind a seated, large-breed dog. If necessary, wrap your small pet in a towel or distract your furry friend with a helper handing out treats while you administer the medication.
  • Use a sterile technique — Keep the applicator tip clean by avoiding contact with your pet’s eye or eyelid. Tilt your pet’s head up with your non-dominant hand, holding the medication in your dominant hand. Then, gently pull the lower eyelid down with a finger on your dominant hand, steadying your hand against your pet’s face. Administer the drops or ointment into the pocket the lower lid has created, then allow your pet to blink and spread the medication naturally.

When administering multiple eye medications, follow the correct order. Drops should be given first, followed by ointments. Discuss the appropriate intervals with our team to ensure maximum efficacy.

How to administer ear medication to your pet

When administering medication to your pet’s ears, you’re going in blind. But, with knowledge of pet ear canal anatomy and the appropriate administration procedure, giving your furry pal ear drops or ointments will be a breeze. Here’s how to administer ear medication properly:

  • Clean first — Most ear ointments require a clean ear, as debris and discharge can render the medication ineffective. However, certain ear medications should be used on a dirty ear, so determine if your pet’s ears need to be cleaned before you administer the medication. 
  • Warm refrigerated medication — Some ear medications need to be stored in the fridge, but pets do not appreciate cold liquid being dumped in their ears. Let the medication warm up to room temperature before giving it to your pet for a more comfortable experience. 
  • Straighten and massage the ear — Pets have an L-shaped ear canal, making it difficult for medication to travel all the way down. Enable easier and more effective administration by gently pulling your pet’s ear straight, applying the medication, then massaging the base of the ear to help distribute the medication throughout the ear canal.

Mastering the art of medicating your pet is a crucial skill for every pet owner. With the right techniques and a bit of patience, you can ensure your furry friend receives the care they need without unnecessary stress (and with keeping all your fingers intact). 

Incorporate our tips into your routine, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a pro at administering pet medications. However, if your four-legged pal is particularly resistant to being medicated, contact our Town & Country Animal Hospital, PC team for alternative solutions.