- Medication (pill, capsule, powder, or liquid)
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 drops of Vanilla butter nut flavoring (optional)
- 1 teaspoon peanut butter (smooth)
- 2 teaspoons flour (more if needed)
Gather your supplies:
A Pill crusher, a sharp knife, a cutting board, small measuring and mixing spoons, small bowls, and an airtight baggie to store your finished balls in.
You will also want to look up your medication and formulate the dosage in advance. You will find the formulations at the end of this tutorial as well as some pointers on dosing.
Calculate how many medicine balls you will need to ensure the proper dosage for the medication you are adding. In these photos we are making doxycycline medicine balls.
We are using 1 (one) 100mg tablet. I have calculated that since my dosage needs to be 5 mg per medicine ball, then I want to end up with 20 balls. (100mg divided by 5 mg= 20)
If you are using a tablet(s), crush it. If you are using a capsule then empty it out. Add the flavoring and stir well. (Other flavorings can be used such as vanilla, maple, honey, etc.)
Add the peanut butter, slightly heating it in the microwave for a few seconds will make it easier to mix. After the peanut butter is mixed in well add the flour a little bit at a time.
Keep adding flour and mixing well until the dough is the proper consistency. You must mix this very well to ensure that the medication is evenly distributed. You will want to end up with a ball that is not crumbly or sticky.
Roll your medicine into a long “snake”. It is very important to keep the snake consistent or else your dosages will be too variable. Since I am making 20 doxy balls I am going to make a snake that is 10″ long so that I can cut it into equal parts. Laying the ruler next to the finished snake I am then going to use my sharp knife to carefully cut the snake at half inch increments. (1/2, 1, 1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, 3, etc.)
After the medicine snake is cut into the equal pieces they can then be rolled into balls. This is a good time to check to make sure that the balls are consistent in size. If they are not… Re-form a ball with then, make a snake, and cut them again.
The medicine balls can now be stored in an airtight container, or baggie, and be refrigerated. Sprinkling them with a tad of flour will keep them from sticking. Make sure you mark the baggie with the medication type and dosage of each ball. In this case my bag will say, “Doxy- 5 mg. balls”
Dosing Your Rat
Once the medicine balls are ready it is time to dose the rat. The medication that my rat was prescribed requires 2 doses a day (bid). So every morning and evening I will give the rat a medicine ball.
To ensure the rat is getting the proper dosage you will want to watch him ingest the entire medicine ball. Rats do tend to stash. If he does not want to eat the ball you can try adding a little sugar, a touch or salt (to cut bitterness), or just about anything that he likes.
You may also want to remove the cage mates at dosing time so that the rats medication isn’t stolen and eaten by the wrong rat.Murphy’s Law of rat's states: “Every rat will love the medicine… except for the rat that needs it”.
Calculating Dosages for Medicine Balls
Check all calculations with your veterinarian before making your medicine balls. When using Baytril it is best to use “Baytril Taste Tabs”.
There are 2 methods to calculate accurate medicine balls.
Calculate how many doses there are in one certain pill or capsule.
Total Mg of pill divided by mg of each dose = the number of dosages per tablet/capsule.
Each dose is a med ball
Here are some sample calculations:
- 100 mg Doxycycline /dosage of 2.5 mg = 40 doses
- 100 mg Doxycycline / dosage of 5 mg = 20 doses
- 68 mg Baytril / dosage of 6 mg = 11 doses (11.3)
- 200 mg Amoxicillin / dosage of 15 mg = 13 doses (13.3)
Calculate how much medication you need to make a certain number of doses
Total number of doses x mg per dose = total mg for compounding mixture.
- You need to dose your rat 2 times a day for 10 days with doxycycline (20 total doses).
The dosage prescribed is 4 mg.
20 doses x 4 mg per dose = 80 mg total
Med balls- add 80 mg to recipe and cut into 20 balls.
- You need to dose your rat 2 times a day for 2 weeks with baytril (total 28 doses).
The dosage prescribed is 5 mg.
28 doses x 5mg per dose= 140 mg
Med balls- add 140 mg to recipe and cut into 28 balls
NOTE: Since Baytril typically comes in either 22 or 68 mg tablets you will need to calculate how many tablets you will need to meet the requirement you need. In this example it is 140 mg.
This is done by dividing the total number of mg needed by the number of mg in each tablet.
140 mg needed for mixture / 22 mg baytril tablet size = 6.4 tablets crushed for mixture
140 mg needed for mixture / 68 mg baytril tablet size = 2 tablets crushed for mixture (2.05)
Try not to let the calculations discourage you. With practice it will become easier. Be sure to always double check your calculations and have your veterinarian verify them.