How to give medicines to our dogs and cats? We’ve just been to the vet and if we want our pet to heal, we have no choice, we must give them their meds. It is therefore important to understand how to make this process as fast and painless as possible: Dr Maria Grazia Calore, veterinary surgeon and expert in pet behaviour, provides us with some helpful tips to meet this challenge.
Dogs and cats: the differences in terms of taste
To understand how to give medicines to our dogs or cats we should know the differences between them in terms of taste. In fact, a dog usually swallows food, chewing it very little whereas a cat is extremely selective. In addition, a dog only has 1,700 taste buds compared to 9,000 in a human, while the cat has even less, around 250, but they are very specialised. For this reason, it is much rarer to see a cat being poisoned than a dog.
The smell of food is very important for a dog, which finds salty and sweet foods equally as appetising. In contrast, the domestic feline, because of its carnivorous nature, prefers salty foods, snubbing sweet dishes.
Many pharmaceutical companies know that it is hard to ‘deceive’ our four-legged friends and ‘spice-up’ the pills to make them more appetising, however this measure has not been extended to all pet medicines.
How to give medicines to dogs and cats: the “tricks”
To help make the administration of medicines to a dog less stressful, we can wrap the pills in a slice of cheese that he can swallow without being able to extract the contents. Alternatively, and if this does not affect therapy, a very large pill can be reduced into small pieces. If our pet is particularly ‘suspicious’, give him a slice of pure cheese to gain his trust first before administering the medicine in the next lump.
For cats, meat flavoured vitamin pastes or edible casings to hide the pills can be extremely useful, although flavoured medications are often ingested spontaneously. As far as possible, we should avoid forcibly administering the product, especially if the therapy is long-term. We may succeed once or twice to deliver the meds but, later on, it will be a real struggle! With patience and studying the ‘taste preferences’ of our animal, we will undoubtedly find a less traumatic way to deliver the medication.
We are already well on the way to successfully being able to give medicine to our dog or cat if we exclusively follow the instructions of the veterinarian. Moreover, we must avoid giving them medicines for human use: metabolism of medicines in our furry friends is completely different to humans, and what we assume is safe could be toxic or dangerous for them.