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Administering Medication to Your Pet

How to give liquid medication to dogs

We all hate the idea that our pets may one day need medical attention, but it is a fact that at least once during the lifetime of our pets, they will visit the vet and that visit will result in you returning home with either drops or tablets to give to your dog, cat rabbit or bird. You know it’s good for them, but they don’t’. If you are lucky, the medication may taste delicious and your pet will enjoy taking the tablets or drops from you, but more than likely you will have to get creative if you are to get that medicine inside your pet.


The method you use to administer medicine to an unwilling pet will be largely dependent on the type of pet and the size. You will not be able to overpower a St. Bernard for example and force tablets or drops down his throat without an all-out wrestling match. Similarly, using brute force against a budgie, hamster or other small animal will result in possible injury, so choose your method wisely.

Persuasion/Cajoling – Probably the most popular technique to use is to offer the tablet and hope by petting and praising and giving treats to your pet, he will eventually take the medicine. This has varying degrees of success and usually ends up with a pet that has had lots of treats and no medication. If you are lucky however it will work, maybe once or twice until he realizes that his medication is due and hides or runs away.

Firm Handling – This is the method used by veterinarians and looks easy and impressive when done efficiently. I doubt anyone reading this hasn’t seen the first dose being administered to their pet by a vet and been sure they can do the same thing at home, only to find the reality is your pet is having none of it. With cats, using firm handling to administer a tablet will probably involve wrapping her up in a towel and forcing the tablet down her throat. Again, if you are lucky the cat will reluctantly swallow the tablet and you will have a full 24 hours to recover before you have to do it again, On the other hand, once you release your cat, confident in the knowledge the tablet has been swallowed, she will spit out the soggy remains and have nothing to do with you for the rest of the day.

The Con – This is my favorite technique and works pretty much every time, although you still have to be a little creative. First of all it works on the opposite principle of training an animal. You do not want to associate the treat with what you are doing; this whole technique rests on your pet not making that connection. Now you must use a food motivator. Dogs love bread and butter for some reason and this lends itself nicely to giving tablets or even drops. Lightly butter a slice of bread, (the butter holds the tablet in place). Tear off a small piece of bread, put the tablet on the bread and fold it over making a tablet sandwich. Call your dog, and give him a small piece of bread and butter without the tablet, then give him a second piece. By this time he is anticipating the third piece. Before giving him the third piece containing the tablet, have ready a fourth piece. Give him the tablet sandwich and immediately offer him the fourth piece of bread and butter. He will swallow the tablet sandwich in anticipation of the next piece of bread, voila medication administered.

Ham is a great motivator for cats, and smaller animals like rabbits and hamsters have treats and toys that can be purchased from most stores that stock pet supplies, and using the method above, giving medicine should no longer be a problem.


Because the method that works best is a con you will have to adapt it slightly if your pet starts to get suspicious. Try doing the process without adding medication to throw him off the scent.