The Magic Bullet Fund


Pets in cancer treatment often take an assortment of medications and supplements. This process can become traumatic for the pet and overwhelming for the caretaker. The more disagreeable the pet is about being given meds, the more overwhelming the task becomes for the caretaker. When techniques and simplifications can be made to the process to make it as painless as possible, everyone wins!

After Bullet was diagnosed, we had appointments with an oncologist and a holistic vet. They each contributed to Bullet's regimen an assortment of medications and/or supplements. In the weeks that followed, I found myself dreading trips to the kitchen. The counters were cluttered with  bottles of pills and capsules, tinctures, extracts and powder-form supplements. They were to be given TID, BID or OD, On an empty stomach or with food. Oh my goodness, I thought, I'll never be able to get all of this organized!
In a short time, however, I got to know (without reading the bottle instructions every single time) when and how to give each, and the schedules became less daunting. How to actually get all of those meds and supps into Bullet was the next hurdle!
Pills that don't have to be given on an empty stomach can be added to a dog's dinner. If the dog isn't eating reliably (a common side effect of chemotherapy), then other methods must be discovered. I found that Bullet was agreeable about taking the pill and powder form meds and supplements when I mixed them in a bowl with crumbled pound cake. He also took his "on empty stomach" pills this way, with just enough pound cake to hide the meds. If Bullet didn't ojbect to the taste of the powder in a particular capsule, I emptied that into the bowl. I split large pills in half or into quarters (unless instructed not to). Not all dogs like pound cake -- each caretaker has to find their own dog's "pound cake."

If your dog likes cheese, try hiding the pills in a ball of cheese, rolling it between your palms. Peanut butter balls are a little messier to prepare but some dogs love it. If your dog doesn't take the ball of peanut butter or cheese (with pills hidden inside), try tossing it so that he can chase it. The excitement may entice him to eat it.
When a dog isn't eating and is ill, most of the supplements can be skipped for a few days if necessary, until he's feeling better. (Not including the supplements that you're giving him to resolve the side effects.) But unless the veterinarian says otherwise, the medications must be taken, even if (as a last resort) manual pililng is necessary. To pill manually, use one hand to hold his bottom jaw and the other to hold the pills and pull up his upper jaw. Place the medications on his tongue, as far back as possible and rub his neck until he swallows.

Many medications and supplements are available in liquid form. Your veterinarian can give or sell you syringes without the needles. There are various sizes and many are marked with fluid volume so you can monitor how many ml. or cc. you are giving. Use the plunger to draw the proper amount of the liquid into the syringe and then insert it into your dog's cheek, alongside his teeth. (Again, there is no needle on the syringe!) Push in the plunger to let some of the fluid flow into his mouth, wait for him to swallow it and repeat until the syringe is empty. Your dog's head should be in neutral position, not tilted back (he could choke on the fluid) or forward (it will drip onto the floor). This can be done with the dog standing or lying down.

Most pills can be crushed and caspules can be emptied. Try putting either of these into an open syringe, upside down with your finger over the small end so the medication doesn't fall right out. Replace the plunger and then hold the syringe upside down, press the plunger all the way in, and then pull into the body of the syringe either water (filtered) or a liquid medication or supplement. Shake it up and empty the contents into his cheek as above.

The objective is to make the process as painless as possible for everyone!


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