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How to dispense medications

How to administer oral medications

Administering medications to your pet is not always easy. Many preventative as well as prescription medications for an ill pet are often to be given orally, either in pill or liquid form. The following information is designed to assist pet caregivers when medicating their cat or dog at home.

Liquid Medication

When giving your dog or cat liquid medication, it is best to sit beside the animal rather than in front. This provides better control and minimizes the chance of you being spit up on by your pet.

When giving liquid medication, one should place one hand over the muzzle of your pet with fingers on one side and thumb on the other. The other hand is used to hold the dropper or syringe and fingers on this hand are used to lower the jaw and squirt in the liquid. Point the head up slightly as this also helps to open the lower jaw slightly.

You should administer the liquid in an even movement toward the base of the tongue, not towards the roof of the mouth. If this is difficult, try squirting the liquid along the side of the teeth towards the back of the mouth.

As cats generally don’t like to be messy, squirting medications on the foreleg may be appropriate, as most cats will lick the liquid off in an attempt to clean themselves. This method will not work with dogs.

A syringe or dropper is usually provided with liquid medications, however, should something happen to it, or one isn’t supplied they can be purchased from a pharmacy or simply ask the veterinary hospital to supply one.

Medication in Pill Form

Pills can often be hidden inside pieces of canned food, peanut butter, cheese or some other delicacy; however, some pets will simply sniff out the pill and refuse to eat the treat or eat around the pill.

If hiding the pill doesn’t work, you will need to give the pill yourself.  Place the palm of your hand over the muzzle with fingers on one side and thumb on the other.

A well trained animal is not likely to bite its caregiver, however, a very sick or injured pet may not be on its best behavior so when holding the muzzle, so slide the animal’s lips over its own teeth. Animals are unlikely to bite their own lips so this can offer protection to human fingers – just in case.

The other hand is used to hold the pill between thumb and forefinger and the other fingers on this hand are used to lower the jaw. Point the head up slightly as this also helps to open the lower jaw slightly. Be sure to place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible, then close the pet’s mouth and stroke its neck to encourage swallowing.  Then watch your pet for a few minutes to ensure he or she doesn’t spit the pill out.

Pill poppers can also be purchased at some veterinary hospitals, which can make administering pills easier. If you are having difficulties then consult your veterinary hospital for assistance.

How to administer Subcutaneous Fluids

See article ‘Administration of Subcutaneous Fluids at Home’ on

How to administer eye drops

  • Remove any discharge around the eye with a cotton ball moistened with saline solution or Lid n’ Lash from your veterinarian.
  • Firmly grasp the pet under the chin and lift its chin and eyes towards the ceiling.  Position your other hand over the pet’s head bringing the dropper bottle just above the eyes.
  • Gently pull back upper and lower lids.
  • Squeeze the eye drops into the inner corner of the eye taking care not to touch the dropper to the eye or eye surface.
  • Continue to hold the head back for a moment or two while the drops dispense over the whole eye surface.