a bitter pill to swallow: advice for medicating pets
One experience shared among most pet parents is the experience of medicating your pet. Whether your pet has needed medicine to deal with an injury or illness, or simply to keep them safe and healthy (as in the case of flea and tick or heartworm preventives), the act of medicating your pet can be nothing short of challenging.
A sad and scary reality is that only 10% of cat parents and 30% of dog parents give their pets medications properly. This includes not giving the proper dosage, not continuing the medication long enough, giving expired medication or simply not giving the medication at all.
When your pet is prescribed a medication, it is because your veterinarian thinks your pet will benefit by receiving the medicine. It may be to cure an infection, prevent pain or any number of other reasons. By not giving your pet her medication properly, you may be delaying healing or causing discomfort in your beloved friend.
What to do if your pet is prescribed medication
Before you leave your veterinarian’s office, take time to review your pet’s medications
Read the label with your veterinarian or her assistant.
Double check the dose. Is it 1/2 a pill or a whole pill? Maybe it’s more than one pill. Check with your vet.
Double check the frequency. Some medications are given twice a day, while others are given more or less frequently. If your schedule does not allow you to give the medications when recommended, ask your vet if another drug with a different schedule will work. If you work eight hour days, you cannot be expected to give a medication six times a day, unless you are lucky and are allowed to bring your pet to work (although that may not be ideal if your pet is suffering from illness or injury).
Formulate a plan for HOW to give the medications before you leave the office. This is particularly important when dealing with cats. Remember that statistic from above? The one about how only 10% of cats are medicated properly? There’s a reason for that. They are HARD to medicate. Ask your vet for advice.
If you know your pet is difficult to medicate, address this with your vet. It may be possible to formulate the medication into a liquid or treat form which will make everyone’s life easier.
Do your best to give your pet her medications on time. Continue giving them until directed to stop, even if your pet is feeling better. It may help to add a note to your calendar each day that you can check off so you don’t forget. Finally, if you notice adverse effects, like vomiting or diarrhea, call your veterinarian.
Life is busy, and I know giving your pet medication can slip through the cracks sometimes. If you accidentally skip a dose, call your veterinarian to find out how best to get back on track. Your pet deserves the best, and I know you can give it!