Medicating your pet doesn’t have to hurt
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By Mickey Zeldes  June 14, 2013 12:00 am

Do you find medicating your pet as daunting as the prospect of climbing Mount Everest?  You’re not alone.  We recently had to give our oldest cat an antibiotic for a week.  It’s amazing how a sweet little nine-pound kitty can thwart the efforts of two adult humans in their attempts to get a tiny pill down her mouth.  You would think we were wrestling with a full-grown lion.  Like climbing a mountain, having a game plan and the right tools is essential for success.  The better you plan, the better your chances for a positive (painless) outcome.

The right type of medication is the first step.  Pills often work best for dogs that are food motivated because they can easily be hidden in a piece of cheese or hot dog.  Always have two pieces of the treat ready so they gulp the first (with the pill in it) while eyeing the second.  If you have a cat that likes treats, try hiding a small pill in a Pill Pocket (a treat with a hole in the center designed exactly for that purpose and sold in three flavors).  For most cats though, it’s often easier to squirt a liquid into their mouth than try to get a pill down their throat.  There are pharmacies that will compound most medications into flavors your cat will enjoy – or at least tolerate.  Don’t feel you have to take what your vet carries in stock – it might be worth going through one of these pharmacies if the result is your cat actually gets the medication he or she needs.

For cats that are impossible to medicate, you might ask your vet if the remedy comes in a trans-dermal formula.  You just rub it on the cat’s inner ear, which has lots of blood vessels, and it is absorbed through the skin.  Not everything comes this way, but it can be a real blessing if your prescription is.  Just pet your cat and slowly rub the ointment on her ear – how easy is that!

Don’t be shy about cost comparing medications, especially if your pet is on something long-term.  Because dogs and cats get many of the same diseases as we do – diabetes, hyperthyroid, Cushings – they are often prescribed the same medications. So, you can actually get them at Costco or your local drugstore at a far lower price than at your veterinarian’s. You can also check online for specials and deals on pet medications.  It’s a very competitive market.

Make sure when you get a prescription from your vet that you understand exactly how to give it.  Ask such things as: Does it have to be refrigerated?  Shaken before use?  Given with food or on an empty stomach?  What should I do if I miss a dose?  Will I have leftovers or should it be given until all used up?  What side effects might I notice? When will I start to see improvements?  Is a recheck necessary?  Bring a notepad and pen with you whenever you go to the vet’s so you can write these things down to help you remember later.  There’s usually so much going on in the clinic, in addition to your worry, that it’s not surprising that most people don’t remember these details once they leave.

With all these options, the hope is you won’t have to get into a wrestling match to get medication into your pet.  It certainly doesn’t do either one of you any good if you both end up wearing it.  All it takes is a little planning, the right meds and some luck.

Upcoming Events:

• Summer camps are filling up quickly.  Check out our website for details at rpanimalshelter.org.

• Free pet ID tags and microchips are available for Rohnert Park and Cotati residents.  No appointment necessary – just come in during our open hours: Wednesday 1-6:30 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 1-5:30 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-4:30 p.m.

Like us on Facebook and help us return stray animals home, hear about happy adoptions and keep current on our events.  Go to facebook.com/rpanimalshelter.

Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at mzeldes@rpcity.org.

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