New formulas take the bite out

OK, so here is what you do. First, you need to grab him by his scruff. You may need a second person to assist you. Then, you tip his head and place the pill as far back in his throat as you can. Beware, he may kick, scratch, or even bite. Then, you rub his throat until you see that he has swallowed it.

If you think I’m describing some medieval torture, that may be correct, but I’m actually describing what many owners go through to medicate their cat. As a result, a recent trend has taken place in veterinary medicine of developing innovative methods of administering treatments to pets. Many medications are now available in chewable tablets, or can easily be compounded into flavored solutions. Compounding pharmacies have also proven invaluable in recent months by supplying popular medications that are either no longer available commercially, or are currently unavailable due to manufacturing difficulties. Antibiotics that required owners to give a pill several times a day, have been reformulated so only one daily administration is required. An injectable antibiotic that lasts two weeks, given by your veterinarian, has even eliminated the need for owners to give antibiotics at all in some circumstances.

Certain ailments can be treated with transdermal gels that are applied to the pet’s ear, and absorbed through the skin. Topical dewormers and heartworm medications are now available. This has made it easier to prevent heartworm in cats (and yes, cats do get heartworm). As pharmaceutical companies have responded to owner’s requests for alternative methods of drug administration, so have pet food manufacturers. Diets are now formulated to help manage a variety of ailments ranging from kidney disease to diabetes. Some contain glucosamine and fatty acids to aid in the management of arthritis. Diets have gotten so good at treating diabetes, that some cats can be taken off injectable insulin, and managed by diet alone.

Perhaps the most interesting new food is one that manages hyperthyroidism in cats by restricting their dietary intake of iodine, thereby often eliminating the need for daily medication. If your pet is prescribed an unpalatable medication, there are also soft chews available with a hole where the pill is inserted to disguise the taste. So, the next time you need to take a trip to your veterinarian, don’t be surprised if you are offered more options than were previously available. Your pet will be happier, and I’ll bet you will be, too.

Dr. Jill Patronagio can be reached at the Hollis Veterinary Hospital, 11 Silver Lake Road, Hollis, at 465-7071 or by visitng www.hollisvet.com.