Author: Korina Stephens RVN, nutravet (UK) Ltd
Getting your cat or dog to take a capsule or tablet can be a challenge. Many pet owners struggle with this, as pets can be very susceptible to anything out of the ordinary in their food. Pets may need to take medication regularly due to health issues, and this can become very stressful for the pet and their owner.
Before administering any medication to your pet, make sure you check the dose and ensure this is followed at all times.
If your cat or dog will happily eat the capsule/tablet out of your hand without any fuss then this is the best way to give it to them. Follow this up with a treat to reward their good behaviour. If your pet is not that happy taking capsules/tablets, there are some positive things you could try to make the process stress free, which include:
Stay calm – always remain calm when administering medication to your cat or dog, this will prevent them from thinking anything is wrong and getting stressed.
Mix into food – if the capsules/tablets need to be given with food, try disguising them in their meal. Open the capsule and empty the contents over their food and mix it in well. Try mixing the contents of the capsules with something you know your pet likes, for example fish paste or pate. If it is a tablet you could crush with the back of a spoon and then mix into the food.
Split food into two portions – Give your cat or dog a small amount of food with the capsule/tablet, which they are more likely to eat. Once they have eaten it all, give them the rest of their food. Less powder content per feed can improve palatability.
Coat with a treat – if they won’t eat them with their regular food, you could coat the capsule/tablet in a soft, malleable food, such as a small chewy treat. Make sure it is small enough to swallow without chewing; dogs are very clever and if they taste something they don’t like they may eat around the capsule or tablet. For your dog you could try wrapping the tablet/capsule in ham or something like a small portion of cheese could work for your cat.
Disguise the tablet/capsule – some pets can smell the tablets and will simply eat around them. To prevent this, you could mix the contents of the capsule or crush the tablet into something smelly, such as tuna or sardines.
Giving the capsules/tablets whole by mouth
- This process can be easier if your dog is in the sit or down position so that they are unable to run away.
- Get your dog to sit upright, tilt their head back and open their mouth. Their jaw won’t open automatically, so you may have to prise it to open with your hand.
- Place the capsule/tablet as far back on their tongue as you can and then close their mouth.
- Keep your hand over the top and bottom of their mouth and gently stroke their throat, which helps to encourage them to swallow.
- Be sure to stay calm during the process offering words of encouragement and follow with a treat to reward their good behaviour.
- If your cat is known to scratch when giving them tablets, you could wrap them in a towel, which will enclose their legs and feet.
- Once you have your cat in a comfortable position, tilt their head back and the lower jaw should drop open slightly.
- Hold the tablet in your right hand, drop the tablet as far back as you can on the tongue and close their mouth until your cat swallows.
- Gentle rub under the chin to encourage swallowing whilst keeping the mouth closed.
- If dropping the tablet in doesn’t work, you could try dropping a small amount of water into the mouth to encourage swallowing.
When giving capsules/tablets to your pet, speed is of the essence to prevent causing your cat or dog to get too stressed. When placing your fingers in their mouth, be sure to do this quickly to prevent getting bitten.