Wednesday, October 28, 2009

There's more than one way to pill a pet

This week, I took on a new client that had a cat who needed medication every 12 hours. I was reluctant to take this job at first because he only allowed one person to pill him, that being his dad. When he went to the vet for any reason, it took several people to hold him down. However, the owners are so dedicated to their cats and after meeting their kitty I thought it would be easy to pill him. He'd mellowed out because of this medication and when I met him, he didn't hide or run away which was unusual for him.

The first time I pilled him it was a breeze, but the next time he turned into the Tasmanian devil! Seeing he needed the medication, I knew I had to come up with a plan. Here is what I started with:

Sliced cheese. I rolled a small piece in a tiny ball and he licked it, rolled it, then left it alone.

Canned tuna. He loved the juice and ate a bit of the meat. There had to be a better solution.

Fancy Feast canned food. Something I would never feed any cat regularly, but as a temptation it does the trick. I took a very small amount of Fancy Feast, mixed it well with the crushed pill, added a bit of tuna juice and presented it to him. He ate it! There were a couple of tiny bits left so I added a bit more Fancy Feast and tuna juice and it vanished.

We have done this all week. When I say a tiny bit of Fancy Feast, I mean tiny. One small can lasted us 6 meals. Once he eats the canned food with crushed pill, I put his dry food down and he gobbles it up, then it's removed until I go back to his house in 12 hours. By then he's hungry again and has no problem eating his laced canned food.

The main reason this has worked is the timed feedings. If he were able to eat throughout the day, he wouldn't be hungry enough to eat the tuna mixture at night.

For those of you who have hard to pill pets, here are a couple of other things you can try:

Pill Pockets are soft treats that are hollow in the middle and across one end. You put the pill in, pinch the top closed and give it to your pet. They come in a number of flavours and are made for cats or dogs. They need to stay moist so remember to seal the bag once it's been opened.

Sliced cheese works for a lot of pets but my dog Sam was always aware of the pill in the middle so I had to use trickery and deception! I would take three pieces of cheese and make 3 small balls with the middle one having the pill. I would give her a pill-less piece first to gain her trust, then present the remaining two; first the one with the pill and then the final piece. She would see the third piece and eat the second one with the pill quickly to try and get at the third.

I have one cat that's on medication for hyperthyroidism and another for a heart problem and they are given a chewy, salmon flavoured treat that has the medicine in it. These can only be purchased through a vet so if you are having problems using conventional pills, ask your vet if the medication comes in a chewy treat. They are more expensive but if it does the trick it's worth it.

Some medications are compounded into a transdermal gel that you put on the inside of the ear. The most common is Methimazole, which treats hyperthyroidism in cats. The medication is in a tube and the caregiver measures out the prescribed dose and applies it inside the cat's ear.

These are among the most stress free ways of medicating a pet. If it works, it's a win-win situation for everyone involved!

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