How to Give a Mouse or Other Small Rodent Oral Medication

Four Parts:Preparing the MedicationGiving the MedicationTricking the Rodent Into Taking the MedicationGetting Serious

If you're reading this, congratulations on being a caring pet owner. You recognize the need to give your small pet proper healthcare; an important aspect of providing a healthy and happy life. This article provides an introduction to suggested methods of giving your pet liquid oral medicine, and is not recommended for any other kind of medication.

Part 1
Preparing the Medication

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    Have the medicine ready. The medicine should be given according to the instructions. If the medicine is supposed to be refrigerated, is it cold? Did you shake it? Is your syringe clean, and does the pump move freely?
    • Syringes can be cleaned with hot tap water: with the tip of the syringe underwater, work the pump until it glides freely. Once clean, make sure to get as much water out as possible before using it with the medicine. Excess water can lead you to measure incorrectly.
    • Make sure you can read the syringe properly. One cc (cubic centimeter) is equal to one ml (millilitre).
    • If the pump has a thick rubber or plastic base, make sure the medicine goes to the measurement line - the pump base goes past it.

Part 2
Giving the Medication

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    See if your pet likes the medicine. With the right amount of medicine in the syringe, poke it through the cage bars, or any convenient opening. Act like it's a treat, and see if Little Squeaky will eat it on his own.
    • It is important to have a steady hand for this, for if you start jerking the syringe around, Squeaky will probably leave.
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    Try to squeeze the medicine out in small increments, so it doesn't ooze everywhere before Squeaky eats it. If some medicine is lost, or Squeaky chews on the syringe, don't panic. Just don't go dumping the medicine everywhere, and don't him them destroy the syringe (chewing, etc.).

Part 3
Tricking the Rodent Into Taking the Medication

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    If your rodent doesn't want to take the medication as is, try hiding it in a treat. Some have suggested soy "ice cream" or cheese.
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    If he's still not volunteering, make things easy on yourself and capitalize on the rodent's natural fastidiousness. Squirt it on a part of his body he can reach easily and he'll instinctively "groom" it off with his tongue, ingesting it in the process.

Part 4
Getting Serious

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    Use a clean washcloth. Sometimes the soft cloth will calm your pet, and make it harder for him to squirm away. Wrap little squeaky gently in the washcloth, and give them the dose quickly.
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    If the medicine is particularly unappetizing and your pal's not falling for tricks, you'll need to get more insistent.
    • Keep your pet calm, and pick him up gently. Little Squeaky probably isn't thrilled about the idea of having a giant plastic tube stuffed in his face, so don't be grabby.
    • Hold Squeaky in one hand, and the syringe in the other.
    • With a steady hand, gently poke the syringe at Squeaky's mouth.
      • If he holds still, great. Give him the medicine in small increments, and he will probably lick it just to get it off his face.
      • If he squirms, you can try to get the syringe directly in his mouth. You will have to be quick, firm, and gentle. It is easiest to approach from the side of the mouth, then angle towards the throat. Squeeze all the medicine out in one quick motion.
    • Don't worry if Squeaky spits some out, he probably got enough.
    • Do not shove the syringe down Squeaky's throat; you could inject medicine into his lungs, or cause other serious internal damage.
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    Scruff your rodent. If Squeaky is really determined not to take his meds, you can try scruffing him. This involves holding him by the loose skin around his neck. If done incorrectly, scruffing can cause bruising, damage to the ear canal, hair loss, and suffocation. Do not try it if you are unsure. Rather than hurt your beloved pet, call the vet and ask for a different kind of medication. Your vet would rather hear "I can't do this" than "Squeaky's bleeding out the ears."
    • This kind of scruffing only works on animals small enough that they can't just turn around and bite you, which usually means an animal no larger than your palm. The rodent will try to bite you, and gloves will not help your dexterity. If you see him getting close to biting you, just let go. It isn't worth the stress to your pet, or having sharp little teeth in your fingers.
    • Don't be holding him five feet above the ground. If you should drop him, it would just be that much more traumatic, and he'd probably run and get lost. Hold him a few inches over a table, preferably with some kind of block to keep him from running off the edge.
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    To scruff:
    • With your thumb and forefinger, aim for behind the neck and just before the shoulders, and not quite halfway around his middle.
    • Pinch, allowing the skin to pull back. His forelegs will splay sideways and his lips will pull back.
    • If it feels too tight, let go and try again. He should be able to wiggle, but not enough to reach back to bite you.
    • Put the syringe in his mouth, and squeeze the whole dose in at once. It is important to do this as quickly and deftly as possible, to minimize stress.
    • Put him down, and let him run away and sulk in his home. He might hate you for a while.
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    If none of the aforementioned methods work, stop. Call your vet, and work something else out. It is better to have a less convenient form of medication than to traumatize and possibly injure your pet.


  • Ask your vet how long the medicine is good for. Some medicines are good indefinitely and are handy to have around, and some expire.
  • Have some of Squeaky's favourite treat handy, for after the meds. He might be angry with you, and not trust you for a while.
  • If you think there is any possibility of hurting your pet, or you're uncomfortable, talk to your vet. They will see it as a responsible, intelligent choice.
  • Don't worry about spills. Your pet is probably getting enough of the medicine. If you bring Little Squeaky in for another checkup, mention that he isn't getting the full dose. The vet might tell you to keep giving him however much they will take for longer, or they might say everything is going fine anyway.
  • Don't forget to refrigerate! It can improve the taste, and make it easier to give to your pet. Also, some meds will just go bad if they're not kept cold.


  • Don't give other people's pets medicine to your pet, for the same reasons.
  • Don't wrap medication in peanut butter. Rats can't regurgitate and peanut butter can kill them by blocking passages.
  • Never, under any circumstances, give human medicine to your pet. Just because it works for you, doesn't mean it works for them. They could easily be poisoned by it, or overdose.
  • If you injure your pet, or he acts funny or has any strange discharge (runny nose, eye gunk, drool), call your vet immediately. Your pet could be injured, or be suffering from an allergic reaction.
  • If your pet seems upset, leave him alone. Try again later, or call your vet for advice.
  • If your pet pukes, call your vet. Most small animals are not physically set up to puke, so if they do, it's a sign that something is very wrong.

Things You'll Need

  • The medicine your vet gave you
  • A clean oral syringe (these do not have needles)

Article Info

Categories: Mice and Rats