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What's the best way to give my pet medication?

Here are some tips and tricks for administering a variety of medications. Before you administer any medications to your pets, here are a few questions to think about first:

Do I understand the prescription label?

It may appear trivial, but administering the medication incorrectly can be detrimental to your pet's well-being. Ensure that you understand the process of measuring liquid medication, dividing tablets if necessary, determining the frequency of doses, and adhering to the specified time intervals between doses. It is important to know that some ear medications or liquid antibiotics require shaking before use. Insulin should be gently rolled before injection and administered at specific times of the day.

How should I store the medication?

Certain medications need refrigeration or room temperature storage to maintain their efficacy. Some medications may be sensitive to light and should be kept in dark containers. If your pet's tablet medication is provided in a blister pack or comes with a desiccant, it means the drug is sensitive to moisture, and each dose should remain in the package until used.

Am I allowed to give my pets medication with food?

The absorption of certain drugs into your pet's system improves when given with food, while others require an empty stomach for optimal effectiveness. If administering the medication with food is necessary, pets with specific conditions such as food allergies or pancreatitis may have restrictions on the type of food allowed for administration.

For example: Pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics generally should be administered with some food to prevent stomach upset.

Rules of Thumb About Medications:

If you ever have a question about your pets medication please call the pharmacy or your veterinarian’s office to ensure the safety of your pet.

Please do not adjust dosages, add additional medications, share prescriptions between pets, or abruptly discontinue medications without speaking to your veterinarian, unless you have been instructed to do so. Changing medications and dosing on your own can lead to SEVERE consequences such as increased side effects, organ damage, and re-emergence of worse disease. Discontinuing many seizure, heart, or behavior medications will cause a rebound worsening of the original problem, and giving antibiotic medications (especially ear drops) sporadically can cause bacterial resistance and more aggressive future infections).


Before Administering Medications:

Before you get started, make sure you have everything you need within easy reach- meds, syringes, towels, pill poppers, treats, etc.

There may be different forms of medication that are better suited to your pets temperament, ability, and schedule.If you have a busy schedule it will make it hard to give medication two to three times a day. Check with your veterinarian team to see if there is a once daily option. If your pet is difficult to give oral medications you could consider injectable or transdermal gel options.

The goal is to make this as enjoyable of an experience for your pet as possible. Use a calm, soothing voice to praise your pet for doing well and use treats if allowed. Pets are very good at reading our body language- if you dread this experience, your pet can sense it in your face and tone of voice which can lead to an unpleasant experience for the both of you.

Giving Pills Without Food in 3 Steps

Step 1: Place large dogs with their rear against a wall so that they cannot back away from you. Smaller dogs and cats tend to do well being held in someone's arms or placed on a tabletop at a comfortable height. When holding a small pet, be sure to tuck them securely under your arm like holding a football. Cat's claws are sharp, to avoid being their scratching pole you can try wrapping their body in a blanket or towel in a "burrito wrap" with their head poking out.

Step 2: Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger of your dominant hand. Using your non-dominant hand, grasp your dog's muzzle firmly behind the canine teeth with your thumb on one side of the muzzle and your fingers on the other. In cats, you will grasp the head in the same fashion, gripping with your fingers around the cheekbones. Tilt your pet's head back so that they are looking up at the ceiling this will cause your pet's lower jaw to automatically drop open slightly. You may use a finger from your dominant hand to push the bottom jaw open further.

Step 3: Quickly place the capsule as far back in your pet's mouth as possible without placing it directly on the throat which would cause them to gage. It's important to get the medication over the hump of the tongue or often the pet will be able to spit it out. Hold your pet's mouth closed and lower his head into a normal position until he swallows. You can gently rub your pet's throat or blow in their nose helps to stimulate the swallow response. We recommend that you have a syringe full of water handy to follow the pill with water to help with swallowing the medication.

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Administering Liquid Medication to Pets

Positioning pets to administer liquid medications similar to giving pills.

Some liquids are flavored or can be flavored by compounding pharmacists to make administration easier. Some of the top flavors are beef, chicken, and fish.

Pull up the proper amount of medication in the syringe before getting your pet positioned. Tilt your pet's head upward toward the ceiling and slowly squirt the medication into the side of the mouth. Be careful not to depress the plunger faster than your pet can comfortably swallow.

Aim the syringe tip between teeth located behind the fang teeth in order to get your pet to swallow.


Administering Eye Medications to Your Pet

It is especially important to have your pet holding still when administering eye medications in order to prevent further eye damage. We recommend be in a comfortable position to begin with, for large dogs it's best to place their rear end against a wall so that they can't back away from you. Smaller pets tend to do best by wrapping them in a towel.

Eye medications are typically in the form of an ointment or a drop. Be sure to read the label carefully and apply as directed. If your pet is prescribed multiple eye medications, ask your veterinarian what order the meds should be applied in and how much time for absorption should be given between each application. In most cases a drop will be placed before an ointment. Additionally, ointment can cause blurring of your pets vision momentarily, so you'll want to keep on eye on them so they don't get hurt after application.

First wash your hands, its very important that the tip of the bottle or tube remains clean to prevent further eye infections. Next, remove the cap to the ointment or dropper bottle and set it on a clean surface to prevent it from getting dirty. Avoid touching the tips of the tube or dropper with your fingers. Place one hand under and around your pet's chin and tilt her head back so that they are looking at the ceiling. Using your dominant hand hold the tube or dropper bottle and rest this hand on your pet's head so that if she moves your hand moves with her. It is very important not to touch the surface of the eye with the end of the tube or dropper bottle. Apply the medication directly to the surface of the eye. As your pet blinks, the medication will be spread over the entire surface of the eye and underneath the eyelids.

Administering Ear Medications

Unlike the human ear canal, a dog or cat ear canal is "L" shaped. This is important because ear mites, bacterial infection, yeast infection, foreign bodies, and tumors can be present deep within the ear and out of sight.

At the bottom of the ear canal is eardrum tissue that separates the ear canal from the inner ear.

Ear drops are instilled by gently lifting the ear flap straight up and placing the drops into the ear canal. After placing the drops gently rub the base of the pet's ear to help distribute the medication into the deeper canal.

Ask your veterinarian if you are required to clean out the ear canals in between medication applications.