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The Pet Corner: Administering medication to pets

Don’t think for a second I am not aware of the difficulty pet owners face when administering medication to their pets.

Believe it or not, I am constantly trying to figure out how to treat your pet without causing you great inconvenience as well as bodily harm.

I don’t envy anyone who has a pet that has mastered the art of medication refusal.

Medication refusal is obtained by a variety of techniques. There is the basic method of tightly clinching their jaws together, primarily used by dogs, so you could not pry them apart with a crowbar.

Cats tend to prefer a more nasty approach by salivating profusely so there is no chance to get any medicine down them as well as slinging slobber all over you. The bottom line is if a cat really does not want to take his medicine, you can’t make him.

There are many more tried and true methods of medication refusal including scratching, biting and simply running away.

The most difficult technique to deal with is when your pet fakes you out when they seem to take their medication without even putting up a fight, but then you find their medicine a week later behind the couch.

I still have not figured out how they manage to do that. Somehow, they tuck the pill inside their cheek and wait for you to turn your head so they can deposit it in a hidden location.

Most pet owners already know the tricks of the trade such as putting the medicine in some kind of delicious treat. Popular medicine administration foods are cheese, hot dogs and peanut butter.

As a veterinarian, I must discourage feeding people food to your pets. However, if given only in small amounts and only for giving medicine, the use of people food may be more beneficial than detrimental.

The problem is many pets will tend to stop eating their own food well and hold out for the chance of getting more people food.

Many pets have medical conditions that require them to eat a prescription food and should not receive any people food at all.

I do understand, though. I sympathize with those pet owners who are faced with such a dilemma.

Fortunately, the pet pharmaceutical industry has made extreme efforts to help with the difficulty of administering medications to pets.

Medicines just keep getting better and easier to give.

A lot of medicines are being manufactured into chewable tablets and some that dissolve immediately once it touches their tongue.

Many more medications now come in an oral liquid which is easier to give to some pets. The down side to oral liquids is if they spit some of it out, you really don’t know how much they got. With tablets, if they swallow it, they got the whole dose and if they didn’t, they got none of the dose.

A lot of newer medications only have to be given once a day instead of multiple times. Anyone who has had to take medicine three times a day knows how difficult it is to remember. If it is difficult to remember to take our own medicine three times a day, it is surely difficult to remember to give our pets medicine three times a day.

There is a new antibiotic that is a single injection that stays in your pet’s system for two weeks. We also have a new medicine for ear infections that is a one-time application so you don’t have to chase your dog around and wrestle him to the ground twice a day to put drops in his ears.

Most amazing is medication that is transdermal. You simply rub it into the inside of the ear and it is absorbed into the bloodstream. This is most often used for very difficult to medicate cats.

The “take home” message here is to not become discouraged about giving your pet medications. There are a variety of ways we can manage to treat your pets.

If you are having difficulty medicating your pet, see your veterinarian as soon as possible to ensure your pet lives a long, healthy and happy life.

Dr. Jeff Castle is a veterinarian at Clark County Veterinary Clinic.