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How do I give medication to my pet....?



Home » Pet and Animal News » * Pet Care & Information OVERVIEW > How do I give medication to my pet....?
As with any procedure you do with your pet, your safety must come first. Make sure that you know the proper techniques for administering various remedies and medication(s)to your pets. The following information is provided to protect and preserve the health and well being of your pets and animals...and to remind you as a caring loving owner to follow these guidelines so as not to get injured in the process of treating your pet. Giving liquid medications Liquid medications are commonly dispensed for pets, especially for smaller animals (including puppies and kittens) because the dose of medication these animals need is often too small for pills. Some liquid medications need to be refrigerated, and others should not be, so be sure to read the entire label. Most liquid medications will need to be shaken before each use. Again, your pet should be sitting when you administer liquid medication. Carefully draw up the dose needed. (Study the dropper or dose syringe that your vet provides before you leave the clinic so that you are sure you know how to draw the exact amount of medication needed.) Put the dropper or dose syringe into the side of your pet's mouth, just behind the canine teeth. Press the dropper or dose syringe slowly so that your pet can easily swallow the medication. Giving oral medication First, it is important that your pet is in a sitting position whenever you administer any oral medication. Never give oral medications to an animal who is lying down—she could choke. Never give oral medication to any animal who is having a seizure or is unconscious, vomiting, or behaving aggressively. When giving your dog or cat a pill, use one hand to pull the pet's snout up slightly toward the ceiling. This will force the lower jaw to drop a bit. Next, using your free hand, gently pull down on the frontmost part of the lower jaw and put the tablet or capsule on your pet's tongue, placing it as far back into the center of his mouth as possible. Then close his mouth and hold onto his snout to keep his mouth closed until he has shown evidence of having swallowed the pill. (You will either see or feel him swallow or lick his nose.) Gently stroking a pet's throat or blowing on his nose will sometimes make him swallow the pill more quickly. If your pet won't swallow the pill, or if you find it easier to administer the medication this way, you can hide the pill in food. But remember, you need to make sure your pet has not figured out a way to eat the food and spit out the pill. Also, if your pet is ill, her appetite may be off and she may not eat all of her food. If the tablet or capsule becomes crushed or opens, it may make the food taste bitter, causing your pet to think better of eating it next time. Be careful of the type of food you hide the pill in. A dog with pancreatitis shouldn't eat fatty foods, for example, so you wouldn't want to give a dog with this condition a pill in a piece of hot dog or cheese—two of the more common foods that people tell me they hide pills in. Some people use a “pill gun” to administer medication to a pet who is extremely resistant to taking pills. These are plastic tubes that hold the pill and allow you to place it in the back of the throat without putting your hands in the animal's mouth. If you are trying to give a pill to a squirmy cat, you can avoid getting scratched by wrapping him in a towel. Leave only the cat's head exposed, and give the pill either with your hand or with a pill gun. If your pet is too aggressive to administer a pill to safely, you will need to let your vet give the medication. It won't do anyone any good if you get hurt in the process. Eye medication Applying ointment to a pet's eye can be as tricky as giving an animal oral medications. Remember Piko? His story is all too common for several reasons. One is that people are often squeamish when it comes to the eye—many of us don't want to touch our own eye, let alone our pet's. Another is that it's a natural reaction to shut your eye if you see something coming at it, and this is what your pet will do when she sees an approaching tube of medication. Finally, eye medications must be administered frequently—often three to four times a day—if they are to work optimally. This is because blinking causes the medication to wash out of the eye quickly. If your pet needs eye medication, ask your vet to demonstrate how to apply it before you leave her office. That way, if you have any questions, they can be answered before you try to wrestle with your pet at home. Never feel embarrassed to ask for a second demonstration, to double-check a dosage, or to try administering the medication yourself in front of your vet. Don't forget: Medications that are administered incorrectly will not work and could harm your pet. Eye medications generally come in the form of drops or ointments. The technique for administering either is basically the same. For big dogs, the easiest way to administer eye medication is to have the animal sit down, preferably in a corner to prevent him from backing away. He can also be in a lying position. For a cat or small dog, the method of wrapping a towel around the pet can help. Rest the hand that you are using to administer the medication on the bone above your pet's upper eyelid. This will help prevent poking the medication tube or bottle into the eye if you are jostled. Using your other hand, tilt the animal's head back slightly and gently pull down on the lower eyelid with the thumb of that hand. If you are placing drops, squeeze the appropriate amount into the eye; if you are using ointment, place a small stripe of medication right on the eye. Make sure that the tube or bottle does not touch your pet's eye as you do this. At first, you may find it easier to have two people perform this task—one person to hold your pet and one to administer the medication. If you have any doubts about your pet's temperament, it is best to put a tight-fitting muzzle on her while administering the medication. Ear medication Ear infections are a common ailment in dogs and cats. Some breeds are particularly susceptible, including the Cocker Spaniel. Ear medications come in cream, ointment, and liquid forms. Some of the liquid medications need to be refrigerated, so be sure to check your bottle for the correct storage information. To administer medication to your pet's ear, stand on the same side of your pet's body as the ear that you are treating. If your dog's ear is floppy, lift the ear, and place the medication in the middle of the ear opening. Next, rub the base of the ear—this will draw the medication down into the deeper parts of the ear. If the medication you are using needs to be refrigerated, it may feel cold to your pet. So drop the medication in slowly to allow him to get used to it. If your pet is in a lot of pain (severely infected ears can be very painful), or if he is behaving even slightly aggressively, I strongly recommend that you use a tight-fitting muzzle on the pet. Again, sometimes this process is easier with two people.