A white and black dog catches a treat mid-air against a pale pink background

Mary Poppins may have had the ticket to taking a dose of something we don’t like, but when it comes to pets, sugar doesn’t actually work. If your pet has been prescribed medication for an illness or to treat a medical condition, you may be wondering how in the heck you’re supposed to get them to take it. 

Although helping your pet take medication may never be truly easy, it’s possible to make it less stressful for both you and your pet. The Pet Experts at Springbrook Animal Care Center have some great ideas for you!

The Meat of the Matter

Here are some basic ideas for getting your pet to take medication:

Read the label – One of the basics is to understand what the medication instructions are. How often is your pet to take the medication? With or without food? Is the medication a liquid, tablet, or capsule? 

Ask questions – Before your leave our office, ask us any questions you may have. Sometimes medications can be adjusted to better fit your timeline or your pet’s needs. We can even have some medications compounded into flavored formulations (tuna, anyone?)

Don’t sweat the technique – Having your pet take medication the first time can feel awkward, but we can show you ways to hold the medication and your pet for the best success.

Keep it positive – Pets respond best to a positive experience, so prepare ahead of time for best results. Use positive reinforcement to make giving your pet’s medication a positive experience for them. 

Helping Your Pet Take Medication

If your pet seems to suddenly develop jaws of steel when it comes to taking medication, try one of these tricks to make it easier. 

Hide it – Hiding medication in food is not a new trick, but it’s one of the easiest ways to get your pet to take their medication. Keep portion size small, and make the treat a high value one – the stinkier, the better. Try liver, turkey lunch meat, tuna water, cheese, bacon, or peanut butter. You can also try hiding the pill in a moldable treat like a Pill Pocket. 

Distract your pet – Give your dog a medication-infused treat while on your afternoon walk, or try sneaking your cat a tuna-encrusted medication while she’s mesmerized by the birds outside the window.

Keep her guessing – Pets can be really smart and may start to catch on that you’re hiding medication in their treat. Keep them guessing by offering small non-medicated treats throughout the day. 

Use peer pressure – If you have a crew of pets, you can often use group think to help your pet take medication. Pets don’t like to be left out when food is distributed. While the patient hurries to keep up with her peers, sneak in the treat that contains the medication.

The Final Word on Pet Medication

Keep in mind that pills and tablets should not be crushed and added to pet food unless directed by a veterinarian. Doing this can discourage your pet from eating due to most medications bitter taste, and they may not get all the needed medication. 

If all else fails, please give us a call. We can help you with other ideas or different formulations. Ultimately, we all want your pet to be well, and taking medication is often an important component of recovery and health.