July 2011 Pet Health News

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CritterCures Pet Health News
How to Give Your Pet Pills
Veterinarian pills.

Giving your dog or cat a pill can be hilarious, frustrating or downright dangerous. It often involves the whole family, lot of treats, running around and hiding under the sofa.

But, with a little preparation, a talk with your vet and these tried-and-tested tricks, your pet will get their pill without too much stress.

The Easy Way

The easiest way to give your pet a pill is if you have a pet that will ‘eat anything’ without question. Just add a pill to something to eat and within moments the food, and the pill, will be gone.

Those that like to catch bits of treats you throw are also easy. Wrap a pill in a tiny bit of cheese, throw it to the dog, who then catches it happily. He’ll never know you tricked him.

Pills wrapped in treats work with many dogs. If cheese isn’t for you, a small piece of hot dog, soft dog food or soft treat. It has to be small enough to be swallowed without chewing. If a dog chews on it and tastes the pill, that will be the last time you will be able to use that trick. They are smart, just the way we like them.

Pills that can be crushed into a powder and mixed with some soup can be given with a large dropper. Squirt the dissolved pill into the pouch between dog’s (or cat’s) jaw and the lip and they will swallow it automatically.

Pill Pockets

Commercially available pill pockets are tiny bits of dog or cat treats with a built-in space to place a pill. They come in many flavors, so if you find the one your pet loves, you’re in business. Make sure the pill pocket is small enough to swallow without chewing, or you will get the pill spit out and treat swallowed.

Pill pockets for cats are smaller than those for dogs, but many cats still might refuse them.

The trick some people discovered is to make sure that you insert the pill into the pocket with tweezers, without touching it with your hand. That way you won’t transfer the pill-smell onto the treat.

It helps if the cat is hungry and was not present while you were preparing the pocket. Do not underestimate the intelligence, and stubbornness, of your cat.

The Hard Way

Giving your pet a pill the first time is often easy, but only the first time. Animals learn fast and it’s not like you can explain that the pill is important for their health.

All they know is that it smells and tastes funny. Our pets are also very sensitive to our feelings: if you are stressed about the pill, they will know it. Try to relax and be positive about it – it is for your pet’s good.

If your pet refuses pill the easy way, with treats or pill pockets, you might have to literally shove it down their throat. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Prepare the pill and hold it between two fingers. Put your other hand on the dog’s or cat’s upper jaw and lift the head up. If the lower jaw is sufficiently opened, place the pill at the root of the tongue very fast, close the mouth and blow into the nose to encourage swallowing.

  2. If the lower jaw does not open enough, use other hand to open it and then place the pill at the tongue.

  3. Keep the dog’s jaws closed with his nose pointed up and stroke his throat gently to encourage swallowing. If you placed the pill deep enough on the tongue, he will swallow automatically.

  4. To avoid possible spitting of the pill that your dog hid in his cheek, give him a treat right away to make sure he swallows. Just in case, keep an eye on him, in case he spits the pill when he thinks you are not watching.

This method works fine if your pet is relaxed and trusts you, but it’s always better to be fast. It should not be to stressful for either one of you.

Some dogs violently object to this method, so be careful not to be bitten. If you think that it might happen, ask your vet for a small device, like a syringe with a grabber at the end. With it, you can place a pill into the dog’s, or cat’s, mouth without having to put your hand in harm’s way.

If you are relaxed about the whole process, your pet will be too. Try to make it as routine as possible, with a few treats before and after, so your dog will feel that it is not a big deal too.

If your pet gets excited when he or she sees that it is a pill time, wait until she relaxes and try again. If your pet has a memory of pills as something very unpleasant and stressful, he or she will go into hiding and make the whole process much more difficult.

Top 5 Constipating Medical Conditions to Watch Out For
cat food and water

There’s no way around it: you have to watch your pet’s poop.

Gross, right? But ask anyone who’s had a baby: we do it as humans and it’s much more gross.

Pet poop can tell you if your companion is healthy, eating well and exercising enough. Constipation is one of the first signs that something is wrong and if caught early, it can be fixed easily. If not, constipation can be very serious, depending on the cause.

Make sure your dog or cat ‘goes’ at least once a day, sometimes more often, depending on the frequency of feeding and the kind of food. If nothing happens after two days, see your vet right away.

Here are the top 5 pet constipators to watch out for.

1. Dehydration

Just like humans, dogs and cats that do not drink enough water can get dehydrated. The body tries to get the liquid it needs for functioning, so it pulls it from the waste in the colon.

Dry, hard stool is difficult to eliminate and you will see your dog or cat straining or even crying when squatting unsuccessfully.

Make sure your pets always have fresh water handy. Some cats might benefit from switching to wet, canned food, with higher water content. Offering your pets a bit of melon, watermelon or pumpkin can make a big difference.

You will know that your pet is severely dehydrated if he or she is lethargic, tired and has dry nose and gums. It can be very serious, so see your vet.

Pets that lose more than 15 percent of water from their system can die.

2. Swallowed Objects

Swallowed objects can cause both chronic and acute constipation:

  • Bits of bones.

  • Hair.

  • Grass.

  • Your socks.

  • Your term paper.

  • Practically anything else.

These objects make pet’s feces into a solid rock, impossible to pass. If ingested objects are large enough, your pet might have to be operated.

Pets that lick themselves often can form a hairball that makes stool too hard to pass. Find out the reason for too much licking to eliminate this potential cause.

Keep small objects away from your pets and give only uncooked bones large enough so that they cannot be swallowed or chipped.

If you are missing a small object like your ring and you think your dog swallowed it, he might pass it naturally with a bit of mineral oil in the food. For anything larger, see your vet.

3. Bad Food

Bad food can be home made or commercial. It means that it does not satisfy your pet’s dietary needs.

Foods without enough protein and fat and with too much carbohydrate can be the cause of poor digestion and constipation. Commercial food often has additives, dyes, preservatives and who knows what else that a pet cannot digest, resulting in either diarrhea or constipation.

Bits of human food that we consider treats for our pets can cause either constipation or diarrhea. Don’t fool around with cheap pet food: good quality food is the foundation of good pet health.

A little extra money spent on good food means saving money on vet bills later.

4. Lack of Fiber

When your pet’s food lacks fiber, the stool will not have enough volume and it might cause constipation. This is much more common with pets that eat human food.

Poor quality commercial pet food often has too much fiber, but of the wrong, over-processed kind. Try adding a bit of pure bran into your pet’s food, or some crushed pumpkin, fresh or canned.

5. Enlarged Prostate

Older male dogs that have not been neutered often suffer from enlarged prostates.

When dog manages to pass stool, can look narrow and ribbon-like. This problem can easily be avoided by neutering your dog when he reaches maturity.

Some reasons for our pet’s constipation are our own fault.

When we housetrain our pets, we take responsibility for making sure that they have opportunity to poop in the right place. A dog left alone in the house the whole day will refuse to poop in the house and will get constipated.

The same happens on long drives, in a strange place or when a pet feels insecure or stressed. Cats can refuse to share litter with another cat and may be reluctant to use their own litter in a new place.

Living with a pet is a delight, but a responsibility as well. Take care of your best friend, even if it means looking at poop.

Pandas Playing on a Slide

Now that we're through all that serious talk about pills and poop, here's something fun! Rambunctious pandas enjoy a day on their wooden playground with each other.

4 dogs peeking over the edge.
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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.