Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Pup Tip | Pilling Your Pup

Some of you may remember that Andy got a minor bite wound back in  December while at doggy day care. While the wound was small it did require regular cleaning and medication. Speaking from personal experience, pilling a pet can either be as easy as pie or like pulling teeth. The trick is to make the experience as stress-free (for both you and your pet!) as possible and to exhibit bucket loads of patience. Lucky for Andy we're seasoned pros when it comes to medicating both cats and dogs. 2011 was the year of medicating pets. At any one given time at least 2 out of 3 of our pets was on medication. At the peak of Maxwell's illness he was taking five pills, twice a day. Add to that Pablo, who was on antibiotics for reoccurring urinary tract issues, and Diego, who had to take steroids at some point for allergies, and we're talking about a lot of medication! It took a bit of research and a lot of trial and error before we had pilling the pets down pat. Here are some practical tips to help you get your pup pilled quick and easy. 

In an ideal world all of the medication we give our dogs would come in chewable, beef-flavored tablets or yummy, delicious syrups that they take willingly, thinking it's a treat. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. In reality most pet medication is unpalatable and your dog will not take it unless they are somehow tricked into it or forced to. For the moment, I'll only be talking about medication that comes in pill form, as that's what we had to give Andy back in December. I'll address liquid medication and share tips on how to pill a cat at a later time. There are a number of ways to pill your dog. 

To start, the easiest method is to simply place the medication in your pup's food bowl with his regular meal. This actually worked great with Andy...until he caught on to what we were doing and started to eat around the pill. D'oh! Another trick is to hide the pill in a pill pocket, available at most pet supply stores, or to conceal it in an irresistible food item, such as a piece of cheese or a slice of sandwich meat. For some dogs these tricks will work consistently. In other cases, the dog will figure out and you may have to resort to more drastic measures.

Having to manually pill a dog is not ideal but it's completely doable once you get the hang of it. In fact, we manually pill all of our pets. Our cats have never fallen for the ol' pill in a treat trick, and since Andy figured out what we were doing and started eating around his medication when we put it in with his kibble or wrapped it in sandwich meat, we had no choice but to start pilling him manually. Pilling a dog manually basically involves opening his jaws with your hands, sticking the pill in the back of his throat, closing his jaw, and forcing him to swallow. While this sounds indelicate, once you get the hang of it the procedure only takes a matter of seconds. I find that it helps to talk to your dog in a soothing voice while the pilling is happening and to reward him with a small treat when it's done. Positive reinforcements works wonders! It also helps to tilt your dog's head back till his nose is pointing towards the ceiling - this basically immobilizes him and gives you easier access to the back of his throat. As soon as you think your dog has swallowed, let him go. Give him a chance to get some space but keep an eye on him for a minute or two. Some dogs are tricky little critters! On more than one occasion we found a pill on the ground after we swore Andy had swallowed it. 

If you're unlucky like us and have to pill your pup manually please remember to have lots of patience and to use a gentle hand. If you don't enjoy pilling your pup imagine how your dog feels being on the receiving end! For more tips on medicating your dog check out this ASPCA article.

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