Monday, November 23, 2015

Avoid These 2 Temptations When Sharing Thanksgiving with Your Pet

By Dr. Becker

There are few things as tantalizing as the mouth-watering aroma of Thanksgiving dinner being prepared. In fact, it can be hard to wait for the meal to be served if you've spent all day surrounded by the smells of delicious food cooking in the kitchen.
You may have also noticed that your furry companion is spending more time than usual sniffing the air and visiting the kitchen, hoping that a morsel of food might slip off the counter or out of someone's hand.

Do I Really Have to Exclude My Pet from Holiday Meals?

The usual advice for dog and cat owners during the holiday season is to avoid feeding species-inappropriate "table scraps." This is because traditional holiday dinners tend to be high-fat feasts that aren't suitable for pets.
There is also concern about ingredients in human food that can be toxic for pets. Plus, we don't want to encourage begging at the table.
But with all that said, whether or not you share your Thanksgiving meal with your pet really depends on what the meal consists of and what ingredients are used. For example, cooked turkey meat is fine for both dogs and cats. A few fresh cooked veggies such as plain (no flavorings or additives of any kind) green beans or yams are also fine.
Examples of Thanksgiving people food you'll want to avoid giving your pet include dressing (stuffing); processed or sugary foods; dishes containing raisins or grapes; dishes containing onions, leeks, or chives; bread, rolls, and butter; and all desserts.
I also recommend blending a small portion of safe people food in with your pet's regular food and offering it at her usual mealtime. It's really not a good idea to offer treats from your plate at the table, or in the kitchen during meal preparation or cleanup, because your pet will very likely remember the gesture if you do it even once.
And with that one gesture, you can turn a pet with impeccable table manners into a beggar dog or cat with a very long memory!

15 Thanksgiving Foods and Snacks Safe to Share with Your Dog or Cat

Most of these foods will be more popular with dogs than cats, but they're safe for both. They should be served plain (no sugar, salt, or spices, butter, or other additives), in moderation, and in small portions.
  1. Apples. Apples contain powerful antioxidants and vitamin C. Serve apple slices to your pet, but never the core or seeds. 
  1. Blueberries. Fresh or frozen, blueberries are loaded with phytochemicals, and their deep blue hue is the result of anthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants. Blueberries are also a good source of healthy fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and E. Introduce blueberries slowly to your pet – too much, too soon can cause a digestive upset. 
  1. Carrots. Carrots are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamins. Many dogs enjoy snacking on a fresh crunchy carrot. 
  1. Broccoli. Broccoli supports detoxification processes in your pet's body; contains healthy fiber to aid digestion; is rich in beneficial nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein, and vitamin C; has anti-inflammatory properties; supports eye health; helps repair skin damage; and supports heart health. 
    As an added bonus, even conventionally grown broccoli is one of the cleanest (most pesticide-free) foods you can buy. Your pet may prefer broccoli steamed.
  1. Kale. This dark green cruciferous vegetable is loaded with vitamins (especially vitamins K, A, and C), iron, and antioxidants. It helps with liver detoxification and also has anti-inflammatory properties. 
  1. Fermented vegetables. If you happen to be serving fermented veggies as part of your Thanksgiving feast, definitely offer some to your pet. Fermented foods are potent detoxifiers and contain much higher levels of probiotics and vitamin K2 than supplements can provide. 
    Beneficial gut bacteria provided by probiotics break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the body, and perform a number of other important functions.
  1. Raw pumpkin seeds. Pepitas, or raw pumpkin seeds, are a rich source of minerals, vitamin K, and phytosterols. They also contain L-tryptophan and are a good source of zinc, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Research suggests pumpkin seeds can prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones, reduce inflammation caused by arthritis, and support prostate health. 
  1. Sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants, and are also high in vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk from heavy metals and oxygen radicals. 
  1. Green beans. Fresh, locally grown green beans are a source of vitamins A, C, and K. They also provide calcium, copper, fiber, folic acid, iron, niacin, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamin, as well as beta-carotene. 
  1. Spinach. This green leafy vegetable has anti-inflammatory properties and can help support heart health. 
  1. Asparagus. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, B1, B2, C, and E, along with the folate, iron, copper, fiber, manganese, and potassium. 
  1. Pumpkin. Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, vitamin A, and antioxidants. It can help alleviate both diarrhea and constipation. Make sure to feed your pet either fresh pumpkin or 100 percent canned pumpkin – not pumpkin pie filling. 
  1. Yogurt. Plain organic yogurt is high in protein and calcium, and most pets love it. 
  1. Cottage cheese. Like yogurt, plain organic cottage cheese is high in calcium and protein. 
  1. Raw almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts. These nuts, served in moderation and very small portions, are safe for dogs. Many nuts are not – especially tree nuts – so stick with these three to be on the safe side.
If you're in the mood to prepare some special homemade treats for your animal companion over the holidays, be sure to request my free e-book Homemade Treats for Healthy Pets, which contains nutritious, easy-to-prepare recipes for both cats and dogs.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Meet Our Cherrybrook Garwood Team!


Hi, I’m Kellie, the Cherrybrook Garwood store manager.  I have been with Cherrybrook since this store location opened in 2010.  I have spent my entire life around animals and have worked with dogs in various ways.  I spent many years both working and volunteering at a local animal shelter and with various rescue groups.  My love for dogs brought me to the Seeing Eye in NJ where I worked for 5 years at the breeding station.  In 2008, I embarked on a once in a lifetime journey around the United States with my doggie soul mate, a German shepherd named Hudson.  We traveled to over 40 states, Mexico, and Canada, camping and seeing what this great country had to offer. 

After returning home I worked as a veterinary technician for a canine reproduction specialist here in NJ for 1 year before moving out to Denver with Hudson, my doggie soul mate, to open our very own doggie daycare and boarding facility, Barkly Manor.  During this time I continued my education in dog training and became a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) and a certified AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluator as well.  I truly enjoyed my years as a trainer working with families and their new puppies/rescues.  Having a pet is such a rewarding experience and I love sharing that passion with others!

After a few years in Colorado I got engaged and decided to move back home to NJ to start my new family.  My husband and I have since had 2 adorable children and a German shepherd named Vader.  Working at Cherrybrook allows me to continue my career in the pet industry.  I enjoy offering advice to customers based on my extensive background in all things dog!  Stop by and say Hi next time you are in the store!


Hi, I’m Cierra the Assistant Manager at Cherrybrook in Garwood.  I’ve been part of the team here for 2 years.

As a member of an Animal Right's group growing up in school, I've always held a deep love and appreciation for animals, therefore I'm very excited to be apart of the Cherrybrook Garwood team.  All animals are very dear and special to me, cats especially, so I've been deemed the resident "cat guru" of the Garwood crew.  I've always had cats as members of my family and I currently have 2 females, Dinah, a Calico, and Kitty, a White and Orange Tabby.

Everyone has their specialties at Cherrybrook, and cats are mine.  So cat questions generally come my way and I am more than willing to help and share my personal experiences.  My knowledge has grown steadily since being apart of Cherrybrook and for that I owe many thanks.  Every member of our team is dedicated, helpful, and insightful.  Together we have a well-rounded wealth of knowledge.


Hi, I’m Linda and I am proud to be an important part of Cherrybrook’s team.

I have been in the retail business for over ten years but working at the Cherrybrook store in Garwood has been such a gratifying experience.  Helping all my furry customers (and humans as well) is such a joy.  Being a dog owner myself and having two small dogs Winnie Lane (my Pomeranian) and Pressley (my Malti-Poo) I know the “love” that our customer’s have for their pets: big and small.

At Cherrybrook each of our staff personnel has their expertise, and mine is helping “new” puppy owners. Most new puppy customers are nervous, excited and/or overwhelmed. And I am here to help offer product advice and guidance with any challenges customers face with their new pet. Customers know they can always count on the Cherrybrook staff to help and guide them with any issues or concerns they have.
So, come by and enjoy the Cherrybrook experience. I look forward to meeting you!!


Hi, I’m Anthony and I have been an integral member of the Cherrybrook Garwood team and have a range of experience working with pets and pet parents.  Before joining the team at Cherrybrook I spent a few years at another well known NJ pet store, honed my customer service skills at an upscale home d├ęcor retailer, and prior to that enjoyed my time working in canine health management assisting in medical procedures of and caring for guide dogs for the visually impaired.  My two dogs love that I work here at Cherrybrook.  I love working at Cherrybrook too and I especially enjoy greeting and serving our customers everyday.


Hi, I'm Camille and I joined the Cherrybrook Garwood team 4 years ago after being one of Garwood's best customers.  As a professional groomer I am very happy to share my grooming expertise with all of our customers.  On most Mondays I offer walk in advice and nail trimming from 10:30am-1:30pm for just $10.  All the proceeds go to the Tibetan Terrier Club of America Rescue.  I love Tibetan Terriers and have owned, breed, and showed them for years.  I've joined many happy families with their new furry additions.  If you have any grooming or rescue related questions then I'm your gal, so stop in or call on Monday and ask for me.


Hi, I’m Laura and I'm pleased to be the newest addition to the Cherrybrook Garwood family.  I've always owned dogs and have been very passionate about them.  I was a member of The Board of Directors at Rawhide Rescue for 6 years and an active member for 15.  For 8 years I've rescued numerous dogs from the south and placed several hundred into their "fur-ever" homes.  Taking care of pregnant dogs and whelping their puppies has always been an exciting and special experience for me.  I own one beautiful 12 year old female Husky mix named Angelina.

Besides being an avid member in rescue, I've also worked in retail for 25 years.  Even with all of my experience, I still am growing and learning new things each day thanks to the entire team at Cherrybrook.  I enjoy greeting customers and offering my help and insight.  With such an extensive past in working with dogs in general I'm always available to answer any questions that a customer might have.  But if you have any questions about acclimating your rescue to your home and family, or want to know what toys or treats are best for your dog I will be particularly happy to help.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Affecting Change Through Diet for Your Pet with Diabetes

By Lori Horton, Bedminster Store Manager

Diabetes is becoming one of the most diagnosed diseases amongst our four legged friends. While this disease requires treatment, it is not life threatening. Here is a short list of some of the tell tale signs and symptoms of diabetes in pets to watch for:

·       Drinking more water than usual
·       Frequent urination
·       Always acting hungry
·       Cloudy eyes 

With proper care, your pet can live a happy, and relatively healthy life with Diabetes. It is important to work closely with your veterinarian, getting a diagnosis and the correct medical care is a crucial part of treating Diabetes. The main goal in managing diabetes is to keep the glucose levels regulated and avoid sugar spikes and drops. This can be achieved through insulin treatments from your veterinarian. But another critical component in the proper treatment for your diabetic pet is diet. The good news is that changing your pet’s diet is something you can easily do and it will have a dramatic impact on the health of your pet with diabetes.

When choosing a diet for your pet with diabetes, the glycemic index is important to consider. The glycemic index is a scale that ranks different types of carbohydrates from 0-100 according to how high they raise blood sugar levels after they are eaten. Foods that are low on the glycemic index take longer for the body to digest, therefore, blood sugar levels rise slower. Since one of the goals in the management of your pet with diabetes is to avoid blood sugar spikes and drops, a slow digesting carbohydrate is ideal. 

There are some ingredients readily found in super market pet food brands that score very high in the glycemic index. These ingredients should be avoided in order to successfully manage the health of your pet with diabetes. Absolutely avoid foods containing:

·       Corn
·       Wheat
·       Rice
·       Potatoes (both white and sweet)

Look for ingredients in a pet food that score low on the glycemic index. These include:

·       Lentils
·       Peas
·       Barley
·       Alfalfa
·       Apples

Cherrybrook offers many different food options with these low glycemic ingredients. Understanding diabetes and how you can help your pet to live a healthy and happy life after diagnosis is attainable. The associates at Cherrybrook can help you in this journey to a better life for you and your pet with diabetes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Take a Chance

Some of my fondest childhood memories include dogs. Growing up, I was surrounded by animals and I loved every second of it. I knew that I wanted to get a dog, but was waiting for the right time in my life to adopt.  Everything sort of fell into place at exactly the right time.  

Once my husband and I bought a house I knew that we would soon be ready for a new addition to the family. We wanted to wait until we were settled in before hand. Turns out, we wouldn’t need to wait long. A friend of mine in Texas Rescue’s dogs and fosters them until they can find their forever home. She posted pictures on Facebook of this adorable 5 week old puppy, who was being sold on the side of the street in exchange for a T-shirt. My friend immediately stepped in and took him home. She nursed him back to health and I watched all of this transpire through Facebook, falling in love all over again every time I saw his face.  

One day when we were speaking on the phone, she said, jokingly I think, “You should rescue him, I can train him for you and bring him up to you when he is ready”. After that I knew I just had to have him, a few weeks later she came up to visit and brought him with her. 

Due to his goofy nature, we named him Gus, after the mouse Gus-Gus from Cinderella. Having a dog has brought such love into our home. Dogs bring a light into our lives unlike anything else in this world. There are so many out there just waiting for their chance to bring love and light into your life. Take a chance on a rescue dog; I know I’m glad I did.

 Written by : Lori Horton

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Does Your Pet Really Need That Rabies Shot?

by Dr. Becker

In the fourth installment of this 4-part series (find the first three installments here: part 1, part 2, part 3), Dr. Becker continues her discussion with Dr. Ronald Schultz, a pioneer and expert in the field of veterinary vaccines. In this final segment, the doctors discuss the future of rabies vaccines and the vaccination protocol Dr. Schultz uses with his own pets.

Dr. Becker's Comments:
Today I'm wrapping up my 4-part interview with Dr. Ronald Schultz, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.
We're returning to the subject of rabies vaccines and Dr. Schultz's fascinating work in this area.

Are Rabies Vaccinations Really Needed Every Year or Three Years?

I asked Dr. Schultz to explain why there are 1-year and 3-year vaccines, but not, say, 7 or 12 or 20-year rabies vaccines.
Dr. Schultz explains he's conducting studies at the moment to successfully demonstrate a minimum duration of immunity for rabies at 7 years. This could enable us to extend the time between re-vaccinations. Up to now, no one has done the research to prove we can go beyond 3 years.
Part of the reason is because the studies are very expensive and take a lot of time
Currently Dr. Schultz is in year 4 of his 7 year study. You can read more about the study at the Rabies Challenge Fund. He is looking to be able to recommend that after an animal is vaccinated at from 12 to 24 weeks of age for rabies, it doesn't require a re-vaccination every 3 years.
Every state in the U.S. now has a 3-year rabies law, however, depending on what city or municipality you live in, the laws may be more restrictive, requiring every-year or every two-year rabies vaccines.
Dr. Schultz reminds every pet owner that you are the one with the ability to get the laws changed if you live in a location that requires your pet be vaccinated more frequently than every 3 years for rabies. There is absolutely no scientific reason for anyone to vaccinate an animal more often than every 3 years with products that are licensed by the USDA to be given at 3 year intervals.
Re-vaccinating that animal more frequently will not enhance herd immunity or protection against rabies. Animal owners who never have their pets vaccinated will continue to avoid doing it, so the requirement for more frequent rabies vaccines is nothing more than a penalty handed out to pet owners who do get their animals vaccinated per the law. It is those pet owners who are potentially causing harm to their animals because they are complying with the every 1 or every 2 year vaccine mandate.

Is There a Difference Between the 1-Year and 3-Year Vaccines?

I asked Dr. Schultz if the 1 and 3-year rabies vaccine products are the same. His opinion is most of them are. There is also a 1-year feline rabies vaccine that has no adjuvant, but there is not at this time a similar 3-year product.
I asked Dr. Schultz why there isn't a 3-year non-adjuvanted product. His answer is the adjuvant-free 1-year feline rabies vaccine is new technology. It is a recombinant vaccine that is similar in nature to a modified live vaccine, but there's no live rabies in it. The cat's immune system sees this vaccine as live. The company that developed the adjuvant-free 1-year vaccine did studies that showed vaccinated cats were still protected 100 percent from rabies 3 years later.
However, a problem in the control (non-vaccinated) group of cats (not enough of them died) prevented the USDA from issuing a 3-year license for the vaccine. In a second round of studies, even fewer non-vaccinated cats died, so again, the USDA refused to issue a 3-year license for the product.
With regard to vaccine-associated sarcomas (VAS) in cats, Dr. Schultz believes it's preferable to give the non-adjuvanted 1-year rabies vaccine over the 3-year vaccine containing adjuvants. Whereas the non-adjuvanted 1-year vaccine created no inflammatory response at the injection site (a marker for tumor development), adjuvanted rabies vaccines are known to cause more VAS. So even in genetically predisposed kitties, it is assumed the non-adjuvanted product, even given yearly, is less harmful than the adjuvanted vaccine.
Since it is known that cats are more likely to develop vaccine injection site sarcomas, the direction for feline vaccines is toward non-adjuvanted products.
Adjuvanted products are more likely to cause adverse reactions in general, across all species.
So the overall goal in future vaccine development is to 1) have fewer adjuvanted vaccines and 2) to develop new adjuvants that are less likely to create adverse reactions.

The Vaccine Protocol Dr. Schultz Would Use with a New Puppy or Kitten in His Family

The last question I had for Dr. Schultz was how his vaccination protocol has changed over the years for his own pets and those of family members.
Dr. Schultz feels very confident about the effectiveness of vaccines. He is also a risk taker in his personal life (he rides motorcycles, has a pilot's license), and not everyone (including me) is as comfortable taking risks as he is. So his choices for vaccination of pets must be put into that context.
With that said, there are very few people who know more about veterinary vaccines than Dr. Schultz, so he is really not taking much of a risk with his pets, his children's pets, or his grandchildren's pets with the vaccine protocol he follows.
He does antibody titers on the mother to know the right time to effectively immunize (not just vaccinate) the puppy or kitten for the 3 core viruses. He titers the puppy or kitten 2 or more weeks post vaccine to make sure the animal responded, and as long as the response is adequate, he would probably not re-vaccinate for the rest of the dog's or cat's life. This is a protocol he has followed since 1974.
He would also give a rabies vaccine (which is technically also considered a core vaccine), the frequency of which is not dictated by Dr. Schultz's knowledge of immunology, but is dictated by the law. He gives the first rabies vaccine sometime after 4 months of age, re-vaccinates in a year, and then again in 3 years and every 3 years thereafter. Dr. Schultz reiterates his rabies vaccine protocol is because of the law, not because every 3 year vaccines are necessary immunologically.
The law is not interested in when an animal actually needs another rabies vaccine to be protected – the law simply demands every 1, 2 or 3 year vaccinations with no consideration for whether the animal's body is already immune to the rabies virus thanks to a prior vaccine.
If you choose not to re-vaccinate your pet for rabies, it is your choice, but you should be aware it is also against the law. Neither Dr. Schultz nor I are suggesting you do anything illegal. However, if you choose not to re-vaccinate, be aware your pet is probably protected for life from the virus anyway due to prior rabies vaccination.
If Dr. Schultz's 7-year rabies study can prove the vaccine is good for at least that long, prompting a change in current vaccination laws, then a dog might only receive 2 rabies vaccines in a lifetime.

My Sincere Thanks to Dr. Schultz

I want to point out to all of you that Dr. Schultz is single-handedly changing the face of immunologic veterinary medicine. I am so grateful for the work he does – his effort and his passion – and for helping all of us make better decisions for the animals in our care.
Dr. Schultz, in turn, thanks the veterinarians who've been willing to make changes to their vaccination programs, as well as the vaccine companies that conduct their own studies with their products. Every major veterinary vaccine manufacturer has completed a minimum 3-year vaccine study with the core vaccines, and they have all demonstrated their products provide a minimum of 3-years duration of immunity.
This should say something to any veterinarian out here who is wondering if it's really safe to go 3 years between vaccinations -- as well as any pet owner with similar concerns -- that yes, they can confidently go 3 years, regardless of the product used.
Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, September 14, 2015

8 Things Cat People Understand That Others Don't

By Dr. Becker

Opening your heart and home to a cat is an experience like no other. It's not like living with a dog, a bird, or a hamster.
Feline companions are fascinating in that they are domesticated, yet retain many of the natural instincts and behaviors of their wild cousins.
Cat lovers are also unique, because there are things about sharing life with a kitty that only "cat people" truly understand.

8 Things Only Cat People Understand

  1. Cats don't respect personal boundaries (except their own). Cat guardians are accustomed to sharing every square inch of space with their favorite feline.
    For example, most kitties figure out early in life that a human sitting on a toilet is a captive audience and the perfect target for some leg bunting (this is when your cat repeatedly head butts your lower legs and rubs against them).
    Needless to say, this isn't a two-way street, so don't dare even look in the direction of kitty when she's busy in her litterbox.
  1. The house belongs to the cat. Anyone with the audacity to shrink Fluffy's territory by closing doors to certain rooms will live to regret it – especially if he or she is on one side of the door while kitty's on the other. There will be howling, scratching, thumping, and paws appearing and disappearing under the door.
    More than a few clever cats have figured out how to work door handles after being locked out of rooms in "their" house.
  1. All sunny spots also belong to the cat. Cats prefer an ambient temperature about 20 degrees warmer than most humans find comfortable, so they figure out creative ways to stay warm.
    That's why kitties tend to stretch out in patches of sunshine wherever they may fall – on the floor, on furniture, on a windowsill, or right in the middle of your desk or the kitchen counter as you're working.
    Learning the spots where sunshine falls and clearing them ahead of time for Miss Kitty is the least you can do for She Who Will Not Be Denied.
  1. If it moves, it's prey. And this goes double if whatever "it" is moves quickly, furtively, or is underneath something. Obviously this makes for a very long list of "prey" around the house, including anything real or imagined moving under bed covers, paperwork, and area rugs.
    It also includes your ankles if kitty happens to be stalking you as you walk from room to room, and your toes if you move them underneath the sheets as you sleep.
    The good news is that once kitty has caught you with a quick swipe or dig of his sharp claws, he'll take off the second you scream out in pain. Until next time.
  1. The vacuum is evil. It's ungodly loud, and cats hate loud. Tiger could care less how you remove the fur he so generously deposits all over everything – he'd put that varmint vacuum out of the house if he could.
    Short of that, he'd like you to at least show some respect for his delicate sensibilities and warn him before you turn the horrible thing on.
  1. A cat's backend is every bit as cute as his frontend. Let's say you're lying on the couch or in bed and kitty jumps up on your chest in an affectionate mood. You scratch his head or stroke the fur on his back, and the next thing you know, his tail is raised and his bottom is an inch from your face.
    Cat guardians realize this is just a feline's way of being sociable. Your kitty is looking for attention and affection from you. You can try turning him to face you, but take no offense, since none is intended.
  1. The human head is an excellent rubbing post. Most cats enjoy rubbing against things as much or more than they enjoy being petted. And as your kitty's human, it's your job to cooperate while she uses your face as a rubbing post. This can get a bit dicey if you're sensitive to cat fur or dander and Fluffy seems determined to shove her head into your mouth or up your nose. In that case, it's best to try to distract her with some petting or a toy.
    Many cats also head bunt the top of their human's head. If your kitty does this, she's rubbing her scent on you so that everyone knows you belong to her.
  1. The best time to meow really loud is at night when the house is quiet. Sometimes cats vocalize for a reason, for example, it's mealtime or they're saying hi as you come through the door. Other times, they meow for no conceivable reason. This is especially true of older kitties.
    People with elderly cats are often awakened multiple times during the night by throaty, sometimes blood-curdling yowls, howls, and meows. The first few times it happens, we leap from our beds, sure a knife-wielding cat slayer has snuck into the house. Next, we visit the vet to make sure the otherworldly noises coming from kitty aren't health-related.
    Finally, we devise ways to sleep through the midnight wailing, because as we've also learned, there's no "shushing" a cat.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.

Monday, August 31, 2015

3 Ways to Give Your Cat a Pill Without Being "Eaten Alive"

By Dr. Becker

If you’re like the majority of people owned by a cat, pilling little Fluffy – otherwise known as trying to place a tiny, hard object into the mouth of an unwilling creature with sharp claws and teeth – is not something you look forward to.
If you’ve never had to do it, you’re probably thinking it’s not a big deal. In fact, it’s the people who’ve attempted this feat in the past that recoil in fear when their kitty’s veterinarian hands them a bottle of pills or a dietary supplement in pill form.
Fortunately, there are a few different techniques for pilling a cat, because every cat is a little different, and what works for one may not work for another.
Note: the following method works only for medications or supplements that can be given with food.

Pilling Advance Prep

The first steps in giving your kitty a pill or supplement should be taken long before she actually needs that pill or supplement. The goal is to help your cat learn to tolerate the handling that will be necessary to pill her, and also to take liquids and solids from a syringe or pill gun.
First get your cat used to being gently handled around her face and mouth, using treats to reward her for allowing the handling and to associate the activity with something pleasant. Make the initial face-and-mouth handling sessions short, and follow up with a meal, petting or playtime.
As your kitty gets more comfortable with having her face touched, you can begin using your thumb and middle finger to gently lift up slightly on her mouth, forming a C shape with your fingers. Place a special treat like a small morsel of meat that doesn’t need to be chewed into her mouth or immediately upon letting go.
The objective is to get her accustomed to the pilling motion and associate it with something positive.

Pilling in 5 Steps

Now that you’ve been fake-pilling your kitty for awhile, the day may come when you need to do it for real:
  1. Pick your cat’s favorite treat (you may need to try out a few different kinds to learn which one works best).
  2. Treat portion sizes must be small enough and soft enough so that your cat doesn’t chew, only licks and swallows. Chewing the pill can release a nasty taste into the treat; in addition, many medications must be swallowed whole to be metabolized properly.
  3. Have several treats ready before you begin, so that you can offer them in rapid succession once the fun begins.
  4. Hide the pill in one treat, and use your other hand to seal the pill in (so kitty won’t smell medication on the outside of the treat).
  5. Give a pill-free treat, followed by the treat with the pill, followed by another pill-free treat.
Since cats are extremely clever, it’s a good idea to vary the number of treats you give at each pilling session, as well as the order in which you give the treat holding the pill, so kitty doesn’t learn to predict which treat holds the pill.


Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Syringe- and Pill Gun-Training

It’s also a great idea to teach your cat early on to take things from a syringe or pill gun.
Start by rubbing a soft treat or some moist food on the outside of the device and letting her lick it clean. This will get her used to the feel of the thing in or near her mouth.
Next, place some moist food or tiny pieces of treat inside the device and gently push them into her mouth in very small amounts.
Once she’s reasonably comfortable taking solids from the device, switch to a few drops of water in the syringe (which she probably won’t enjoy) followed immediately by a syringe with a treat.
The goal is to get kitty comfortable taking liquid and swallowing the pill so the pill doesn’t get stuck in her esophagus. If she’ll take a small amount of broth, tuna juice, or soft food immediately after her pill, it can also help with proper digestion of the medication.
Warning regarding syringe dosing of liquid medication: A quite common cause of aspiration pneumonia is faulty administration of liquid medication either administered by drench (drench is when a stomach tube is passed down the back of the throat), or by a dose syringe. Any liquid that's given via syringe, whether medication or food, must not be given any faster than the animal can swallow, or the risk of aspiration pneumonia becomes very real.

What If My Cat’s Medication or Supplement Can’t Be Given with Food?

Ideally, your veterinarian can prescribe medication or supplements that can be given with food, because “treating” kitty at pill time as described above is the easiest and best way to keep her stress level down.
However, if the medication has to be given away from food, I recommend you practice the steps below a few times in your mind prior to actually engaging your kitty; the more efficient you are with your cat, the smoother the process will go.
(These instructions are for right-handed people. If you’re left-handed, you’ll need to adjust them accordingly.)
  1. Place kitty on a sturdy, flat surface like a tabletop. Your cat will naturally try to back away from the pill, so you want to rest your right arm on the table and tuck him into the crook of your right elbow.
  2. Trying to approach your cat from the front will have him backing away and escaping from you and the pill. That’s why your body should be behind the cat, with both of you facing the same direction.
  3. Hold the pill in your left hand.
  4. With your right hand, place your right thumb on one side of your cat’s face on the cheek and your index finger on the other cheek and gently lift his nose toward the ceiling. This will make his mouth drop open a bit.
  5. Now use a finger of your left hand to open his lower jaw wider. This position prevents him from being able to bite because he can’t control his lower jaw.
  6. Place the pill as far back as possible into his mouth, then let go of his face, but keep him tucked into your elbow. If he licks his lips, it’s an indication the pill has gone down.
  7. Please note: It’s futile, not to mention dangerous, to try to give your cat a pill with his head in a natural position. You will likely be bitten, which is why you must position his head vertically.
  8. Many cats actually pretend they’ve swallowed the pill when they haven’t. As soon as they get free, out pops the pill and the joke’s on you.
  9. So don’t let kitty go before checking his mouth for the pill. Cats figure out pretty quickly we’re waiting for licking motions and many clever felines have been known to make the licking motion with the pill still in their mouth.
  10. If you can still see the pill in there, re-open your cat’s mouth as described above, reach a finger in and move the pill further back on the tongue if possible. If that doesn’t work, let kitty spit the pill out and start over.
  11. If possible, you can try to squirt a small amount of water into your cat’s mouth (see discussion above about teaching your cat to accept a syringe) to encourage him to swallow. This helps float the pill off the tongue and sends it on its way down to the stomach.

Dr. Becker is the resident proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian of You can learn holistic ways of preventing illness in your pets by subscribing to, an online resource for animal lovers. For more pet care tips, subscribe for FREE to Mercola Healthy Pet Newsletter.