Two of the most difficult tasks facing pet owners are trimming their pets' claws and getting them to take medication.
This isn't going to be a primer on nail clipping, but generally, the younger a cat is when you begin trimming its nails, the less likely you'll be scratched or bitten during the process when it is older. Cats' claws should be clipped every month, less if they use a scratching post to help keep the tips blunt.
Most dogs aren't any more excited about the process, but I've found that if the nails are softened by bathing them first, they tend to be less anxious.
One thing I've discovered: Doing the job by sheer force is an unpleasant experience for both the pet and the owner.
Trimming a dog's nails should be like any other trained response, such as placing the dog in a sit/stay. Take charge, do it without causing or allowing a lot of drama, and move on. Just make sure the animal expects to receive a high value reward when the job is complete. In general, a dog's nails should be trimmed every two weeks.
Giving a pet medication can be even trickier, especially if they can feel, taste or smell it before it is given.
We spend $10-$12 for a 30-day supply of tasty treats to disguise them, or end up giving them too many high-calorie treats trying to fool them.
Disgusted with the money we are spending on manufactured pill pockets, I looked for recipes for moldable treats I can make at home that animals will enjoy without realizing there are pills or capsules inside.
Some people recommend using small sections of hot dogs to hide pills, but I am concerned that the additives (and other stuff I don't know about) in the processed meat might upset their stomachs, not to mention the sodium content.
While these treats don't have anyone's seal of approval, I have fed all of these ingredients to my animals in small amounts without any problems. Try not to spread the smell of the medication to the pocket when you are filling it.
Dairy products should be limited as it can cause diarrhea in both species. If a small amount of milk has you concerned, substitute water or bouillon for milk in the ingredients.
While liver is high in nutrients, use it sparingly as it can cause adverse effects in cats.
-Chicken or beef liver pockets: Cook a pound of beef or chicken liver in a little vegetable oil, including the liquid. Do not season. Allow the liver to cool, then cut it into pieces. Process in a food processor until it has the consistency of paste. Wrap the pill inside a small amount of paste so the animal swallows it whole without chewing. Divide the paste into plastic packets with enough to last a few days. Freeze the rest and thaw as needed. (From Garden Web online.)
-Peanut butter pockets: Form a paste from 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons flour. Store in refrigerator or freezer. Use as needed. (From Muttnut.blogspot.com.)
-Liverwurst pockets: Mix together in a bowl 1 tube liverwurst; 1 package cream cheese; 3 handfuls shredded wheat. Place in refrigerator overnight. Can be stored in refrigerator for up to two weeks. (From Malibupetcare.com.)
(Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.)