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Giving a cat oral medication isn’t always the easiest task, but by remaining calm and following the guidance below, you can make sure your pet gets the medications it needs.

Your veterinarian will tell you if your cat’s medication should be given with food or on an empty stomach. If the tablet or capsule can be given with food, you may make a “meatball” by placing the medication in the center of a small ball of canned cat food or cheese.

Cats are more likely than dogs to chew their food, so felines often eat the “meatball” and spit out the tablet or capsule. This causes the tablet or capsule to partially dissolve and become difficult to handle. If the cat bites into the tablet or capsule, it will leave a bad taste in its mouth and likely make a second attempt more difficult.

The following instructions will help you give medications if a “meatball” doesn’t work for your cat. Use caution to avoid being bitten. A cat’s mouth contains many bacteria and bites can result in deep punctures. If bitten, clean the wound thoroughly and seek medical attention.

Medications for oral administration may be in pill, capsule, or liquid form.

Giving a cat pills or capsules

Hold the cat’s head from the top using your left hand if you are right-handed. The cat’s cheekbones provide a convenient handle to hold the head firmly without causing discomfort.

Tilt the head back and the cat will often drop its lower jaw open.

Hold the pill or capsule with your right hand between your thumb and index finger. You can use a remaining finger on your right hand on the lower incisors to keep the lower jaw open. Keep your finger over the small incisor teeth and not over the sharp fangs (canine teeth). Drop the pill or capsule as far back over the tongue as possible, then immediately close the mouth and blow on the cat’s nose to encourage it to swallow.

If the cat does not open its mouth when you tilt back the head, hold the pill as before and place your middle finger of the same hand over the small incisor teeth – not over the sharp fangs (canine teeth) – to open the lower jaw.

Pull open the lower jaw. Keep your middle finger in place to hold the lower jaw open (3), then either drop the pill or capsule as far back on the tongue as possible or use your index finger (1) and thumb (2) to push the pill over the back of the tongue.

If you use your thumb and index finger to push the pill over the base of the tongue, your fingers will be inside the cat’s mouth, and you must work rapidly to avoid getting bit.

Close the mouth and stroke the cat’s neck or blow sharply on its nose to encourage swallowing.

Pilling devices can be used to place a pill or capsule over the base of the tongue, so you do not have to place your fingers in the cat’s mouth. There are several ways to hold the pilling device.

You can hold the device between your thumb and middle finger and position your index finger to “push” the trigger. To prevent premature release of the pill, you can move your index finger to push the trigger just before dislodging the pill in the back of the throat.

You can also curl your fingers around the device with your thumb positioned to “push” the trigger. To prevent premature release of the pill, you may move the thumb to push the trigger just before dislodging the pill in the back of the throat.

You can also hold the device between your index and middle fingers with your thumb positioned to “push” the trigger.

After finding a comfortable grip, tilt the cat’s head back. It will often drop its lower jaw open. Insert the pill at the end of the pilling device over the base of the tongue.

If the cat doesn’t open its mouth, use the middle finger of the hand holding the pilling device to open the lower jaw. Insert the pill at the end of the pilling device over the base of the tongue. Push the plunger on the pilling device with your thumb or index finger to deposit the pill far back in the cat’s mouth.

Giving a cat liquid medications

Liquid medications are given in a pouch between the teeth and cheek. Quickly squirt the medication into the pouch, hold the cat’s mouth closed, and stroke its neck or sharply blow on its nose to encourage swallowing.

Liquids are more likely to accidentally enter the windpipe compared to pills or capsules. To avoid the cat inhaling liquid into the windpipe, do not tilt the cat’s head backward.

If you find it difficult to give your cat a pill or capsule, speak to your veterinarian about suspending the pill or capsule into a liquid. Some medications can be suspended in liquid while others lose their effectiveness. Always talk to your veterinarian before altering medication.


This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

Urinary incontinence, or the involuntary passing of urine, is a fairly common problem in dogs. It is usually caused by a medical condition, and your dog likely is not aware it’s happening.

Although it can happen at any age, it is more common in middle- to senior-aged dogs and females. Severity can range from small leaks to the voiding of a large amount of urine.

What causes urinary incontinence in dogs?

Pets can be incontinent for many reasons, including abnormalities in parts of the brain and spinal cord that control bladder function, birth defects, and disease. As pets age, they may become incontinent because muscles that hold urine in the bladder weaken.

Incontinence in young animals is often caused by a birth defect known as ectopic ureter(s). The ureters carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, and if one or both ureters bypass the bladder and connect to an abnormal location, such as the urethra or vagina, the puppy may drip urine.

Hormone-responsive incontinence occurs in neutered dogs of both sexes but most commonly in female dogs. The pet can urinate normally, but they leak urine while resting. Hormone-responsive incontinence can occur months to years after a pet is neutered.

Dogs with brain or spinal cord disease may either dribble urine or be unable to pass urine. Most often they will have other signs of nervous system disease, such as muscle weakness or paralysis.

Vulvovaginal stenosis, a condition in which the vagina at the level where the urethra ends is narrowed, is a less common cause of incontinence in female dogs. Occasionally when the pet urinates, some urine will get trapped in the vagina in front of this narrowed area. Then when they rise after lying down the urine pours out.

Older pets can also develop senility and simply be unaware they are dribbling urine.

How is urinary incontinence diagnosed in dogs?

Incontinence can be confused with diseases and infections that cause a pet to urinate frequently. The tests performed to evaluate a pet with incontinence depend upon the age of the pet and clinical signs.

A dye study of the bladder is usually performed, and it is common to collect a urine sample for bacterial culture and to see if the urine is dilute or shows evidence of an infection that could be the cause of incontinence.

Blood tests can detect evidence of kidney damage from infection or for the presence of diseases that might lead to increased urine production.

X-rays or ultrasounds may be used to look at the parts of the urinary tract.

Is urinary incontinence different than a bladder infection?

A bladder infection can cause a strong urge to urinate, but the animal is usually not truly incontinent since they know they are urinating. It is common to evaluate incontinent pets for the presence of a bladder infection.

How is urinary incontinence in dogs treated?

Urinary incontinence in dogs can often be successfully treated or managed with surgery and medications.

Specific treatment of an underlying disease or condition with surgery or medications may resolve incontinence. When no specific cause can be identified for the incontinence, drugs may be given that increase the tone of the muscles that hold urine in the bladder. Drug therapy for incontinence may be based on a trial of different drugs in various doses until an effective combination is identified.

What should I do if my dog is showing signs of urinary incontinence?

If your dog is exhibiting any signs of urinary incontinence, you should call your veterinary clinic or schedule an appointment with one of the internal medicine veterinarians at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital by calling 509-335-0711.


This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.

General anesthesia effects on cageside ultrasound-assessed gastric motility parameters in healthy dogs

Purpose of Study

The purpose of this research is to demonstrate that a cageside ultrasound unit is a reliable diagnostic tool to assess stomach movements when patients are laying on their side, and that it will detect any decrease in stomach movements after anesthesia.

Benefits

Dogs enrolled in this study will receive free deworming medication, a physical examination, specific bloodwork screening, and costs associated with the cageside ultrasound testing: sedation, placement and food for a nasogastric tube (NG tube) and x-rays (approx. value $295-400). In addition, upon completion of the study, owners will receive a $100 credit towards their dog’s bill.

Enrollment Requirements

This study is recruiting healthy, friendly, male dogs weighing 11-44 pounds and with a body condition score of less than 7/9. To be considered for this study dogs must be scheduled for a neuter with the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital (WSU VTH) Community Practice Service. Dogs enrolled in this study must have normal blood work (provided by study screening) and be comfortable lying on their side for a few minutes at a time.

Treatment Methods

Dogs who appear to be eligible for this study will be given a dewormer 1 week before their scheduled neuter. On the morning of the neuter, each dog will receive a thorough physical exam and blood testing to ensure that they are healthy. After successfully passing the screening, dogs will be sedated to facilitate the placement of an intravenous catheter and an NG tube. An NG tube is a tube that goes from the nose to the stomach. NG tube placement will be confirmed with chest x-rays. Once awake we will make sure the dog’s stomach is empty and measure baseline stomach movements using the cageside ultrasound unit. We will then administer food through the NG tube and measure stomach movements again. Once these measurements are taken, we will aspirate the tube to remove food from stomach and dogs will be anesthetized and neutered according to standard-of-care protocols. After surgery, stomach movements will be measured with cageside ultrasound at specific timepoints and then the NG tube will be removed. Dogs will remain hospitalized overnight and then discharged to their owners the next morning. Once discharged, each dog’s study participation will be complete.

Owner Responsibilities

Dogs who appear to be eligible for this study will be given a dewormer 1 week before their scheduled neuter. On the morning of the neuter, each dog will receive a thorough physical exam and blood testing to ensure that they are healthy. After successfully passing the screening, dogs will be sedated to facilitate the placement of an intravenous catheter and an NG tube. An NG tube is a tube that goes from the nose to the stomach. NG tube placement will be confirmed with chest x-rays. Once awake we will make sure the dog’s stomach is empty and measure baseline stomach movements using the cageside ultrasound unit. We will then administer food through the NG tube and measure stomach movements again. Once these measurements are taken, we will aspirate the tube to remove food from stomach and dogs will be anesthetized and neutered according to standard-of-care protocols. After surgery, stomach movements will be measured with cageside ultrasound at specific timepoints and then the NG tube will be removed. Dogs will remain hospitalized overnight and then discharged to their owners the next morning. Once discharged, each dog’s study participation will be complete.

Contact Information

Valorie Wiss
Clinical Studies Coordinator
509-335-0798
cell: 509-432-5345
vwiss@vetmed.wsu.edu