How Do I Tablet My Cat & Dog?

So you and your little one are at the vet, and you hear those dreaded words that make you shudder ” So Mrs Jones Fluffy will need to take a course of antibiotics twice a day”.  A cold sweat starts to break out and you just look at sweet little fluffy sitting there looking like butter wouldn’t melt.  You know that as soon as you get fluffy home and attempt to give those tablets, Fluffy is going to do everything in her power to not have that tablet go anywhere near her mouth.  Your sweet, cuddly affectionate fluffy is going to turn into the Tasmanian Devil!

As Veterinary Nurses ourselves we can let you into a little secret.  Our own pets are just as difficult to medicate as yours, and we can 100% sympathise with you.  Whether it is a short course of antibiotics or your fur baby needs long-term medication hopefully this post will help take the stress out of tableting your pet.

So before you go trying to shove your hand down the back of your pets throat try these tips.

  • Try hiding the tablet in a small amount of wet food, this is best done by waiting for your pets meal time so they are hungry.  You can actually hide tablets inside chunks of food, which fingers crossed will make it less detectable.  You should only attempt this a couple of times, if you are not being very successful with this your fur baby is bound to click on and may become worried about eating and in some cases may stop eating altogether.
  • Ask your vets if they have any gelatin capsules, I have managed to get away with putting nasty bitter-tasting tablets in these, they are less likely to smell and taste the tablets when tucked in to a gelatin capsule.   They are also very handy if you need to give more than one tablet at once.  If your vet doesn’t stock them then try on-line Amazon definitely do.
  • Hide them in a small amount of soft cheese, such as Primula, they can come in different flavours such as prawn and ham, Yum! (a small amount of butter maybe used for occasional medicating)
  • A tried and tested way which I use on my own tablet shy cats and those in hospital at our practice is soft treats.  For dogs you can get treat pods for tablets, an easy to use one which comes to mind is Vivi Treats.  This can be squashed and moulded around most tablets, and dogs love them so most of the time they are straight down the hatch!  Now cats on the other hand will not enjoy the dog treats and also they tend to be a little bit to big for their not so delicate little mouths.  After years of practice I have found that using the Webbox stick treats work really well, you can break them off to a size just a little bit bigger than the tablet then split them in half, length ways creating a little pocket you can pop the tablet in and squash it back together.
  • Some capsule medication can be sprinkled straight over the food or mixed and can be quite palatable (or so the people who make it claim!!!).  Always check with your veterinary surgeon that you can split, crush or sprinkle medications before you do.

Ok so the above tips hopefully will work for most of you, but there is always going to be the odd more suspicious bundle of fur that will not take anything in any way shape or form.  So what can you do?  Well there are 3 options left.  You can ask your vet if there is any alternative treatment/medication that can be used, the straight down the hatch technique or the Pill Giver.

Straight Down the Hatch!

For the brave souls out there that can manage this with no problem at all we salute you!  For those that are about to undertake this fete, have a read of this first for some pointers.

If you have a cat that is placid and you know your not going to come out of this like something that’s been put through a shredder then this will be easy.

  • Sit your cat on a firm sturdy surface.  Holding on to the tablet all ready to go,  put one hand round the top of your cat’s head making sure that you are not covering their eyes as this will frighten them and they are more likely to freak out.  Holding their head firmly but to not to firm where you think you’re gonna pop their little heads.  Tilt the head back slowly.
  • As you tilt the head back with your other hand holding the tablet, use a finger to just push the lower jaw open.
  • Once the jaw is open drop the tablet into the back of the mouth as far back on the tongue as you can get, the further back you get it the less likely it is that your cat will be able to spit it back at you.
  • Sometimes you may need to use a finger to assist pushing the tablet back far enough.  Careful of those pearly whites.
  • Once the tablet is in hold the mouth closed and wait for them to swallow, this should mean that the tablet has gone.  Sometimes gently stroking them under the chin and neck can encourage them to swallow.

If your cat is not as placid then having a helping hand can be an option.  Get you helping hand to sit your cat on a firm surface with cats back to them (this will stop them reversing).  They can then hold those little front legs down, holding them around the elbow area and pushing the legs gently on to the surface they are sat on.  This then leaves you free to try the above technique with out those Freddy Krueger like paws getting you.  If the little darling is still being difficult and is using the back legs and managing to turn themselves practically upside down and inside out, then try wrapping them in a towel this is called the Purreto.  Lay a towel out flat, sit the little light of your life on the towel, and pull it up under their chin keeping the legs inside and wrap it snuggly round their back.  This should keep the ninja paws at bay.

They can be just as difficult to tablet as cats,  they are bigger, stronger and can drag you round your living room.

  • Have the tablet ready in one hand to give and get your dog to sit either by your side or with their bum against a wall. (this will stop the reverse, retreat tactic)
  • Place one hand over the top of their muzzle, make sure you do not cover their nose, we all like to breath and that’s not going to help.
  • Using the hand that’s over the muzzle gently squeeze their lips against their teeth and tip the head slowly back.
  • With the other hand that holding the tablet push the lower jaw down and either drop or push the tablet back as far onto the back of your tongue as you can.  Always be careful of those fine set of gnashers.
  • Close the mouth quickly and hold closed until they have swallowed

Pill Givers!
These can be very useful!  They kind of look like a syringe with no needle on it, they have a soft end on them that you can get the tablet to sit in.  There is plunger on the other end that you push down when you are deploying the tablet.  These can be especially useful if your little angel is very adapt at using their teeth to say no.  It means no hands in the mouth.  Yay!!!  The Pill Givers can be used by following all the above techniques for the Down the Hatch Section!  Just make sure that before you do that triumphant I won dance, there is no tablet still sitting in the end of the Pill Giver.

So there we have it! No one said it was going to be easy, but hopefully this post has given you a few ideas.  If you have any other tips then leave a comment we would love to share ideas.  Also if you have any questions then fire away!

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