Can you give your dog a pill? More to the point, can you give your dog a pill three times a day without any stress on you or your pooch? A recent online discussion reminded me how difficult it can be to get some dogs to take their medicine, and I thought it might be helpful to go through some strategies that make medicating your dog relatively easy and stress-free. I’ll list techniques in order of easiest to most involved:
1. Mix it in with the food. This is a no-brainer, and it works great for some dogs and some pills. It helps to add some soft and gooey food like canned or cooked meat if you usually just feed kibble. Caution: If you use this method and have more than one dog, you have to ensure that Dog A gets the medicine while Dog B does not.
However, lots of dogs are picky about what they eat, and some medications seem to taste terrible to dogs. (The pain reliever Tramadol is famous for being rejected by dogs because of its bad taste. I’ve always wondered if sometime it related to the fact that it also causes nausea in some dogs. My Great Pyrenees Tulip appeared to be terribly ill because she stopped eating; it turned out that the Tramadol she was taking put her off her food and as soon as I stopped giving it to her she began eating voraciously.)
Here are some ideas for dogs who won’t take a pill mixed into their dinners:
2. The One Two Three Game: First, encase the pill in some highly palatable food, perhaps a piece of chicken or some peanut butter. Put it aside and give the dog a treat with no pill. Then give the dog a second treat. Next, pick up the treat-encased pill and put it right next to your dog’s nose, but don’t let him eat it! Pull it away, as if to tease him. Move it within an inch of your dog’s nose/mouth again and snatch it away a second time. Move it a third time toward your dog’s mouth and let him eat it. Follow it up with a fourth treat, this time with no pill. Unless the pill is truly noxious, this works really well and makes the entire exercise great fun.
3. The Competition Game: Along with #2 or on its own, alternate giving your dog a pill-less treat and giving the treat to either another dog (best), or another living entity in the room, two or four-legged. You are basically trying to set your dog up to see that another food lover is getting the food, and if he doesn’t take his share he’ll miss out. You can do lots of jazz-riffs on this (# of treats, # of times the “other” gets the food) based on your household and your dog’s personality. Obviously, avoid this technique with other dogs if there is any food-related resource guarding in the house. If you’re not married this is a great test of a good potential partner for dog lovers. If the person you are dating won’t help out by being the “competitor,” you might want to look around. I’m just saying.
4. Empty Gel Caps: I’d never thought of this as a solution to nasty tasting medicine until it was mentioned on a sheepdog list serve. It is relatively easy for me to give a dog a pill so I’ve never used it, but what a great idea: You can buy empty gel caps at any drug store and put a nasty-tasting pill inside so that your dog won’t reject it. Smart solution, right?
5. Physically giving your dog a pill. Sometimes you don’t have time to go through the suggestions above, or perhaps you’ve tried them all and they haven’t worked. (Rare, but possible.) In addition, I like knowing how to get a pill down a dog without much stress; it seems like a good skill for any dog owner to have. The trick here is to understand that the muscles of a dog’s jaw are designed to press down, but not to pull the mouth open. That makes it easy to open a dog’s mouth if you know where to put your hands. I’ll summarize here, but refer you to a great photo series on Dr. Sophia Yin’s website that shows you exactly how to do it. You can make it relatively stress-free by conditioning the dog to expect a great treat when you grasp its upper jaw in one hand. Like the One Two Three Game, you hold the dog’s upper jaw with one hand, pull down the lower jaw with the other and pop a treat into the dog’s mouth. Let her eat it, repeat and then eventually do the same with the pill. Follow up with a real treat. Physically it is easier to do than describe in text, so check out the photos above to see where to place your hands and how to hold the treat/pill to get it into the dog’s mouth.
The most common mistakes are to pull the dog’s head up too high (it should be horizontal to the ground) and/or to try to open the dog’s mouth too wide, which makes her begin to fight you because it is so uncomfortable.
This is one of those issues that seems trivial… until you have to do it yourself and it’s not going well and your dog is really sick and is beginning to run away from you when you pick up the pill bottle. How about you? What’s your experience giving your dogs pills? Any good ideas I’ve neglected?
Another medical question for you: Is your Hydrogen Peroxide fresh? Facebook readers know that Maggie ate a lot of dark chocolate frosting a few weeks back, and I couldn’t get her to throw it up after giving her Hydrogen Peroxide. It turns out that the bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide that I had in my medicine cabinet was too old and was no longer was effective. It only keeps its bubbles (that’s what irritates the stomach and causes vomiting) for six months or so. For a week I walked around asking myself: “How could I have not known that you need to buy new Hydrogen Peroxide every six months or so?” But now I know. Based on the Facebook responses, lots of other folks didn’t know it either, so I mention it here in case it helps a blog reader out someday. The good news is that Maggie is fine, although it took a two and a half hour visit at a veterinary emergency room on New Year’s Day to get it sorted out. Sigh.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm. The weather is wonderful! Mid twenties, partly sunny and little wind, my favorite winter weather. It even went up into the thirties for awhile this weekend, and most of the little snow that we had melted away. We took Maggie and Willie to friend Donna’s to work sheep and for a long walk in the woods afterward. Both dogs did well and had a great time. I thought they’d be bushed while we sat down and watched the Green Bay Packer football game, but no, Willie couldn’t stop bringing us toys to throw even after running hard for such a long time earlier in the day. Good thing he was there to distract us from the end of the game. Ouch.
Maggie also spent time this weekend at our favorite local pet store–I’m on a big push to get her more comfortable around non-Border Collie dogs that she hasn’t met yet. She did really well, and luckily a big black lab owned by a friend came in and I was able to say “Hi Caroline! So good to see you but please stay where you are so that I can reinforce Maggie below her threshold!” It feels so good when conditioning exercises go well, doesn’t it! (I was using the method described in Feisty Fido, with the additional reinforcement of backing up (and thus increasing the distance between her and the other dog) when she looked at the other dog and stayed calm. (Or, at least, behaved in a calm manner; I can’t tell you what her internal state was.)
Tootsie got to do a Pet Pals shift at the children’s hospital last week, and all I can say is that her Oxytocin producing potential is impressive. She lies on her back on a child’s lap and they rub her belly while I say “Do you think you can rub her belly so that she starts to go to sleep?” The children benefit most from the healing powers of oxytocin when they rub Tootsie’s soft, silky belly slowly, and when do, Tootsie’s eyes sometimes begin to droop, which everyone in the room thinks is adorable. It’s a win/win for Tootsie and the patients and everyone else who watches. Last week was especially sweet because the hour was crammed full of children and their families in crisis, who had a brief respite from anxiety and medical treatments by the visits of Tootsie and the other wonderful Pet Pals dogs. Priceless.
I came home from the office to take some photos, and found myself a tad bored with what felt like “same old, same old,” so I took a page from the Contemplative Photography class I took and looked at my dogs from another perspective.
Here’s Willie’s chest and front leg fur:
Maggie’s colorful back legs:
Have you taken any close ups of your dogs lately? It IS really fun to try to get a completely different perspective. And hey, up north in winter we have to look for things to catch our eye!
Robin Jackson says
We used to try all of these methods, but now just use the Greenies brand
Pill Pockets in Duck flavor. (This flavor doesn’t have corn syrup.) Greasy, smelly, and soft, the dogs love them. About the consistency of play dough, so easy to squish closed around the pill. Most of the veterinarians in our area carry them, because they work very well even with most picky eaters.
Robin Jackson says
Sorry, bad link for some reason. Try this Amazon one instead. These are widely available in the US at wildly varying prices, so shop around.
Love those close up photos, I will get my camera out and have a go .And thanks for the reminder that H/P loses its fizz. It is along hot summer in NZ.
This is a great blog! It happens that I am particularly good at the pill-giving thing as I have a special needs girl that gets medication six times a day. When she first became ill, she was just a youngster and I made a big deal of pill thing. I actually physically pill her as described and illustrated, but in addition, I hold the pill in my right hand between my thumb and forefinger and tuck a little treat between the heel of my hand and the ring and pinky fingers. I drop the pill in her mouth and with a slight roll of my hand immediately present the hidden treat. At the same time, I begin praising, singing and laughing for her. Over three years later, she is still alive and doing well. Plus, she loves getting her pills and will leap up to take them out of my fingers like a “get it”. Sometimes I think that giving dogs medication in a positive fashion is such an important thing to do that we should “practice” when they are young with a vitamin or other “benign” pill so that both the owner and the dog are comfortable and have practiced the skill set without the black cloud of illness overhead. I just think that giving Laurel her pills IS a joyous occasion because it keeps her illness at bay and keeps her by my side.
One of our dogs is a dream to give pills — she puts her head down and lets you open her mouth and pop it in. The other dog, not so much. For her, I’ve found a slight variation on #2 above. I take peanut butter and roll the pill in it to form a small ball (she will lick around the pill if it’s not encased in the peanut butter). Then I make a few more peanut butter balls without the pills and put them all on my fingertips for her to lick off. She loves to lick my fingers and will lick each finger thoroughly without prejudice. I found this trick after trying so many other ways, including the others you mentioned.
I taught my dog to eat a pill as a trick, using a clicker. Timing was everything: if I accidentally clicked just a nanosecond too soon, she’d promptly eject the pill from her mouth at high velocity to make room for the expected treats.
I did still put a smear of peanut butter on the pill though, to make it more palatable (and to help avoid the above-mentioned spit-take!)…I probably could have taught her to eat it bare & bitter, but that didn’t feel entirely fair (or necessary). Then yummy cookies for being such a clever dog, wag wag wag.
I am fortunate to have dogs who are passionate about their food, and who will let me do anything to them. The second quality is a boon, because the first quality has let me down the hydrogen peroxide route more than once. And, yes, shocking and worrying amounts of the stuff to achieve effect if it is old. Until I learned that SALT is ever so much more effective. Never again will I dump H2O2 down a dog’s throat – a tsp or so of salt under the dog’s tongue is your friend (but needs two people, depending on the dog).
Susan S. says
A man in a Mexico City train station once said to me that with enough butter he’d eat rocks. I present pills smothered in butter, with a high value meat or cheese treat following immediately only if necessary. I think butter helps pills slide right down, too.
This blog made me laugh and shake my head. During his recent infectious agent problems Ranger was taking at one point 12 pills a day. By the end of the two months he was down to a mere 8 per day. That is a whole lot of pills, mostly because he needed massive doses of doxycycline. Smear a little peanut butter on it hand him the pill and it vanishes. When he got tired of peanut butter after six weeks we switched to pate. We would have used cream cheese but no dairy with the doxy. Easy as pie. Usually when he needs a pill we put it in a dried apricot which he loves. But apricots can be hard on dogs so there was no way we would be feeding him 12 a day; one or two daily no problem but not 8-12. Ranger is a dream to medicate.
Finna, on the other hand is a nightmare. Grind up a pill in her dinner or even just try to hide it in her dinner and she won’t eat. Smear it with peanut butter and somehow she manages to lick all the peanut butter off the pill and spit out the pill. She loves to catch treats tossed to her so I had the brilliant idea that if I sliced up a hot dog and tossed her pieces without the pill to set up a rhythm she’d just gulp down the piece with the pill. Silly me. She caught the empty piece of hot dog, bit it in half dumped it on the floor and checked to make sure there was no pill. She kept doing that. There was absolutely no way she was going to swallow a pill. Open her mouth toss in the pill and she somehow gags at the right time to be able to spit it out. Put it in greenies. She sucks on it until the greenie is gone and just the pill left and spits out the pill. Wrap the pill in lobster pate (only lobster mind you) and you have a 50/50 chance she’ll eat it. Put the pill in her dinner say to her “Finna, there’s a pill in your dinner eat the pill or not, I give up” and she’ll take her pill about 80% of the time. I’ve tried wrapping it in cheese, bacon, and baked chicken but it doesn’t work, it’s all eat the good stuff and spit out the pill. I even thought that using chunky peanut butter would make it harder for her to separate out the pill, yeah right here’s the pill Mom.The most effective technique with her is honestly just telling her it’s there and that you don’t care if she eats it. She’s a piece of work Finna is.
Terrific suggestions! Thanks for the tip about hydrogen peroxide. Who knows?! Giving medication to dogs can be dreadful, but with practice and knowing how the dog will react to you, you begin to figure it out. Luckily all my dogs liked the idea of cheddar which was easily pliable around a pill. The cheddar was the hook for them and eventually them came to sit at my feet and practically tap their toes as if saying, “I want my pill now, so where is it?” 🙂
Kelly Schlesinger says
I have a beloved 9-year-old BC who is epileptic and, as a side effect of his meds and seizures, eats non-food things. One day he ate my kitchen sponge. The vet made him vomit the shredded thing up. Consequently he was suspect number one the next time I couldn’t find my sponge. With the vet’s instructions I poured some hydrogen peroxide down his throat and he soon threw up his dinner. I rummaged through it. No sponge. I checked the garbage can and discovered that I had scooped it up with some flower cuttings in the sink. Oops! Poor Tag. I apologized, but told him it was his own fault. I often have trouble holding back the last word.
YES!!! No problem. I give both my dogs both pills and syringed meds multiple times every day. I do not use food or pill pockets to do so. I don’t make a big production about it, I just open their mouth (slip finger under top canine tooth and lift up) insert the pill in the back of their throat, gently hold their head up, massage their throat until they swallow, scratch their ears and tell them how wonderful they are. Sometimes I’ll follow with a nice high value treat. The biggest thing is to not get uptight about it and just do it! I think this is a more effective way than trying to hide it in food. I tried that, they got suspicious and then would not eat it and became difficult. Getting their meds is probably the easiest part of our day.
Liz Shaw says
I have dogs that all take pills willingly. But it all started by accident. Two weeks after we got one of our dogs over 20 years ago, she lay down in water and got her spay sutures infected. That was the beginning of a long history of giving pills to her ( antibiotics, allergy meds, thyroid pills, treatment for addison’s…) and we gave it to her in peanut butter. When our next dog came a long he got a peanut butter placebo every night right next to her just because it didn’t seem fair not to give him something too. And the third dog and the fourth and so on. Getting “pills” whether needed or not is now a ritual every night. All four get a lick of peanut butter off a spoon. It is to the point where if I forget to pass out meds I have 4 dogs staring and waiting. Sort of lovely to have my dogs remind me “pill time”. AND if ever they are too interested in something outside, the call “peanut butter pills” is sure to bring them running. I have so many yummy peanut butter deposits in the bank that they barely notice the icky ones.
Minnesota Mary says
Love the pictures and the tips on pilling a dog. My experience with one of my huskies was priceless.
He had caught and ate an animal in the back yard, which caused a lot of spewing out of both ends. At the emergency vet in the middle of the night the vet tech decided to “show” me the best way to pill my dog with the noxious tasting antibiotics prescribed. I cautioned her that her idea of opening a can of wet dog food and trying to hide the pill would not work, but she persisted.
My dog happily ate the food and spat out the pill, which my other dog gobbled up instantly (I had brought the other dog rather than leave her home alone. She calms the husky and it was too hot to leave her in the car so she was in the room with us). The tech went to find another pill and I showed her how I can successfully pill that particular dog by holding his mouth open and putting the pill in his throat, then holding his mouth closed and stroking his neck. It works every time and he tolerates it well.
I hope she learned that one size doesn’t always fit all!
I make hors d’oeuvres by glueing a pill to a treat with spray cheese. Goes right down, but then I have a lab, so it would probably go down even if it were coated with WD40 instead.
Kathy Stepp says
Thanks for all of the suggestions. I have a dog who eats the treat and spits out the pill. I now use coconut oil. He loves the taste and it is hard to separate the oil from the pill. Also, if I can’t get him to eat it, the oil helps it slide down easily when I open mouth and insert pill. I also think the coconut oil has some health benefits so I feel like I’m doing something good for him.
Cheese seems to work for me, but it has to be Crackerbarrel cheddar to be pliant enough to mold around the pill. One of my dogs gets a Xanax every day, and she will spit it out of any other brand of cheese. Since the other dog gets a piece of cheese at the same time, it’s easy enough to get pills into her as well when necessary. The second dog is one week out of her first TLPO surgery and has been taking the tramadol and antibiotic pills this way. Mind you, she’s a Bullmastiff and pretty much swallows things whole, so I don’t think I’ve solved the universes’s problems with this. If I fed her a rock she’d eat it. (No butter needed).
Cats are quite a different story!!
I teach our dogs to take food from a spoon from the first day in our house. Then I use coconut oil to give pills. The oil makes them slippery and they go down the throat before the dog can spit!
Cynthia Becker says
Just a quick addition. My new rescue was a nightmare at the vet (they switched to IV for the 3 AB needed) and when she came home. She dissected pills from: pill pockets, blank heartworm treats, cheese, canned cheese, wet food, cat food, sardines, cream cheese, butter, liverwurst and warm -from the oven roast pork. She hated them so much she bared teeth and growled if you put food next to her mouth. She had chronic pneumonia and was anorectic. I was Supposed to give her 3 pills twice a day, sometimes taking an hour to fool her. I had run out of optons and then…..CRUNCHY peanut butter and a pill splitter. Now pills were same size as nuts and she did not feel and spit out. Also had been using the 1-2-3 game and when paired with crunchy peanut butter it then took 20 seconds to pill her. After first day we graduated to smeared on a plate. She held the plate down with her paw and cleaned it squeaky clean. Now healthy, she eats everything not nailed down, gaining 10 lbs in three weeks. Eats big fishoil cap with a hint of treat on it…inhaled!
I’m loving reading about the variety of experiences we have with our dogs. From “He’ll eat anything” to Kat’s Finna, who could be rented out as a “oral drug detector dog”. If there isn’t such a thing yet, Finna could create an entirely new “working dog” category. Thanks for the laugh Kat (and for role modeling patience and stamina). Kelly, after drying my eyes from laughing at Kat’s description of Finna, I did a spit take when I read your sponge story. And last words, after all, are one of the only things we have over dogs, so we might as well get them in!
I hope that everyone has read the comments, so that they can see how different dogs are. A little butter or coconut oil (love this idea!) might work beautiful with one dog, but not another. If anyone feels smug (not that any of my readers would ever be so!) about how easy it is to pill a dog, all they need to do is read about dogs like Finna. I had one too, but was far less patient that Kat. I just perfected the technique of “open mouth, insert pill, close mouth, stroke throat” along with lots of cooing and then lots of treats, just as Peri describes. Reading all the comments has also motivated me to, like xxx, condition all my dogs to think it’s fun to take a pill. Just to be safe I think I’ll pair muzzle hold with treats, as described also in Sophia Yin’s website article.
Regarding salt versus hydrogen peroxide. Very interesting, thanks Christina! I’ll ask my vet what he thinks of plain salt…
My old husky mix gets her tramadol and thyroid meds twice a day wrapped in a piece of honey baked ham. She will yodel at me if I’m late, so this seems to be a stressless way to keep her healthy.
Susan S. says
Just looked at the peroxide bottle in my dog first aid box & there’s no date on it at all. If it goes flat you’d think there’d be a date, especially because then people would buy it more frequently. Anybody have a brand with a use-by date?
Our dog (a pitbull mix rescue) has IBD and has a list of about 3 things she can eat (her canine caviar wilderness venison kibble, and sparing amounts of venison jerky and raw venison). She needs multiple pills multiple times a day for managing allergies, IBD and more recently, ongoing severe anxiety from last summer’s fireworks. One thing she loves to do is eat. So we do two things to help her take her medication happily: We put a couple cups of her kibble in the blender to make a powder. Then we add enough water to make a paste and make little meatballs out of the powdered kibble paste. After she has her meal, we have her sit and give her the pill meatballs like training treats. She loves it!
I had a cat who got so upset about being forced to take a pill that he projectile-vomited every time. Could. Not. Medicate.
So I swore that every pet thereafter would be conditioned to take pills from my fingers eagerly, in expectation of one or more favorite treats. Two dogs since have successfully been happy to take their meds. I put the pill way back in the throat, close jaws, stroke, praise, and treat. Over and over, at least every couple of days with placebos, until before long they’re asking for them. Now I can just pinch the pill betw thumb and forefinger and current dog will snatch it down and look for her reward.
Train them in advance — with placebos if need be. Be calm and matter of fact and happy. Treats! Yay!
Melissa L. says
It is fun to read about the different dog personalities and pills. My previous dog was a picky eater and was expert at separating the pill from everything except peanut butter. So peanut butter it was and it worked. When she got really old, she wasn’t as discerning and I switched to pill pockets because they weren’t as messy. My current dog, Cass, will eat anything and I suppose I could just drop the pills on the floor and she’d eat them. However, she enjoys food so much that I give her the pill pockets anyway. She now reminds me when it is time to take her pills!
great comments so far and I love this topic. Pilling a dog in my experience has been both great and a challenge. My first dog, Marlin, needed pills every day for allergies and we were told at the school to just drop it in their food and they would eat it. Marlin wouldn’t do this, but he would leave the pill in his dish after eating, so to check if he’d in fact taken the pill, I’d pick up his bowl and feel for the pill. If I found it, I’d pill him as Tricia described above and he swallowed it like a perfect gentleman. I’d always follow up with an ice cube, his favorite treat and he was just fine with getting pills after that. I just started giving him the meds before his breakfast and dinner so the reward of food would be really motivating.
Torpedo was a different story. I thought, oh, he’ll be like Marlin, nice as pie. I gave him an antibiotic before dinner. He faught me a bit on giving him the pill but I did get it down, with lots of praise. I was in the middle of telling him how much of a good boy he was when he looked at me, gagged and threw up the pill, just the pill. I don’t know if the pill made him nauseated, but he wasn’t having any of it. I decided to just try to mix it in with his food. Nope, nothing doin and he was even trickier than Marlin. Let Mom find the pill in his bowl? Ha! She’s blind. If I just take it out and leave it on the floor she’ll think I’ve taken it. I did, until a sighted member of my household let me know it was their. Ok, cream cheese… chicken, peanutbutter? Not for Torpy. He loved those foods, but if there was a pill in them he wouldn’t touch it. What did eventually work was treats before and after a physical pilling. He eventually took the pills very nicely, but I never gave up on the treats because I knew he didn’t like being pilled.
Seamus is a breeze. This dog will eat, and I know because I’ve fished it out of his mouth, printer paper if given a chance so pills in his food are no problem. He has to take meds twice a day and I just put them in his food and gulp, down they go.
Chris Vereide says
Our Luath was horrible at taking pills at first. It seemed like no matter what food I would put the pills into, he would always spit it out. He was also a bit shy/fearful and would not let me pill him. When he got older, he was much better at taking pills. His favorite way was to encase the pill/s in Velveeta.
Under #1 – I can relate to almost giving the wrong dog the pills and the right dog no pills in the food bowl. I accidently switched the food bowls. Luckily, the unmedicated dog did not get the pills before I snatched the bowl away. However, I did accidently give Eja some antibiotic when he didn’t need it. In the early morning hours, I had made several Velveeta “balls”, some had medication and some did not – combining #2 and #3 methods above and gave the wrong ones to the wrong dog.
Wow! I’m loving these comments. Neither of my dogs is particularly challenging to pill. Sandy is not a chewer, so she’s super easy- just put pill in anything vaguely foodlike, and down it goes.
Otis IS a chewer, even of the tiniest bites of treats, so we have to be a bit more subtle. Small pills like Benadryl (his dose is SIX pills- I triple checked that one with the vet because I couldn’t believe it- TWO knock me on my butt) can be sandwiched between cheese slices. He knows the pills are there, but rather than spit them out, he bites down verrrry gingerly so as not to break them. Big pills are better served covered in something he won’t try to chew, so cream cheese or peanut butter. As an additional twist, I find that hiding the pill in a glob of sticky cream cheese, and then actually reaching in and sticking it to the roof of his mouth works the very best- it discourages him from trying to lick off the treat and reject the pill- the action of licking it off the roof of his mouth seems to encourage him to swallow it.
I’m so interested in hearing more strategies- successful and otherwise! from everyone!
Trish K says
I’ve only tried two methods for giving my dogs pills and they are hiding it in a piece of cheese and also holding their mouth open inserting the pill by the back of their throat and then rubbing their neck. Both work fine. The tip on the peroxide is really useful.
I had an incident less than a year ago with Simon and Bella and a four pound pizza!
It was a Chicago style pizza and I bought a large which has eight large pieces. I took one and put the rest on the stove. I stepped out of the room for a minute then came back in and started eating and reading then I looked up to see Simon licking the aluminum foil that covered the pizza in the box. I got up to get it from him and saw the the whole pizza was gone! I panicked because I knew that was too much food for them at one feeding, I thought it was dangerously too much. The problem was that I didn’t know whether Simon or Bella ate the pizza. That would’ve been really too much. So I got on the computer and searched how to induce vomiting in dogs and then used the peroxide. I decided to give a dose to each dog because I couldn’t figure out who ate it. I gave it to Simon first with no result but it was poor Bella that ate the whole thing! It was the saddest thing watching the peroxide start working. I took them outside and she started pacing and looking nervous. Well the whole 7 huge peices came out. I continued reading a bit more about the peroxide effect and freaked out while reading how it must be inserted into their throat properly or they could inhale it and cause serious lung problems.
Interesting perspective with the pictures… Love Tootsies face.
Khris Erickson says
My Holly, who passed on 5 years ago, was the easiest dog to get to take a pill. I’d just show her the pill, ask her to sit and hand it to her. She’d take it thinking it was a treat. Sometimes dumb is good.
For the last couple of months I have been using Brie to give pills. I don’t even have to hide them in it (unless really vile) I just stick em on some nice ripe Brie. I am now using a raw milk one and it stinks up the fridge, but the dogs love it. Any stinky, runny cheese will do. I use the kitchen doormat as the place where treats can be earned and since using the brie, it is a pretty popular place to sit when I’m in the kitchen.
Peer pressure also helps.
I also stuff em down throats when the dog won’t eat (really nausseous). But somehow all my dogs were easy that way.
The blander meds go down easier as a liquid (if the meds lend themselves for that). Things like tramadol shouldn’t be given in a wet food, cause it will dissolve and the taste will be too much. And if a food is moist, it should be given right after putting the pill in. Or the taste will “evolve”. Butter can help with that, also keeps meds from sticking in the mouth.
But by far the most appealing solution is this one: clickertrain using premack principle. (Not that I actually do that, but love the idea). Laura VanArendonck thought of that.
Margaret McLaughlin says
Cobie, Elly, & Lia were all hypothyroid–so am I, really, I wonder what’s in the water around here–& with Cobie & Elly I did the “open mouth, pop in pill, close mouth, stroke throat” with great success for years. Enter Lia. She was very compliant, but being a Flat-Coat she had a lloonngg muzzle, & I have large hands, which meant I had trouble positioning the pill far enough back in her throat. By then I had gone to crate feeding, so I just dropped the pills in with the kibble & they disappeared with the speed of summer lightening. All was well until Lia was diagnosed with osteosarcoma & put on pred & tramadol–I didn’t realize until I read this thread that the tramadol tastes nasty. She would eat right around the tramadol, & leave it in the dish. I tried pilling her as I had the others, but her muzzle hadn’t gotten any shorter, & since the tumor was on a hind leg her attempts to back away were painful. Back to the drawing board. I started coating the pill in peanut butter & putting it in with the rest of her food. She was passionate about peanut butter, & that worked until the end.
Sue J. says
Interesting to read everyone’s comments, just shows you need to be creative in your approach. Not all dogs are the same. I have to give my dog 11 pills twice a day for his epilepsy. Have tried most of the techniques that people have shared, and often times I have to change the way I give him his pills, he seems to get tired of one way after while. I’ve had success also with very thin sliced cheese and wrapping the pill and using untainted cheese first to stimulate his palate. My dog seems to have a harder time separating the cheese from the pill that way.When you give 22 pills a day, there is no method that works all the time. Sometimes I do just pop them in his mouth and stroke this throat. Be sure to check with your vet before cutting up any pills or capsules, some should not be split.
Eileen Anderson says
You go, Lynn, for teaching your dog to take a pill as a trick. I’ve always thought that was the Cadillac of all methods. We can teach it as a behavior. Makes all the hiding methods obsolete. Laura Baugh of Canines in Action has a nice blog and video demo. http://caninesinaction.com/2011/03/an-easy-pill-to-swallow-training-to-take-pills-the-easy-way/
Abby Harrison CPDT-KA says
I was thinking about the dating of hydrogen peroxide. If there is no date, then mark the purchase date with magic marker. (My grandfather would mark food in the frig to help keep track).
The other thing is that there is some drug they drop in the dog’s eye and it makes the dog throw up. You need a vet and it is more expensive than peroxide.
We had such incredible difficulty pilling a cat that the vet switched the prescription to a trans-dermal cream we applied on the inner ear. We would clean the prior application with a warm wash cloth on one ear and apply a fresh amount to the other ear. We did it twice a day for years.
Tanya Baikow-Smith says
My Lab, Frankie, had to take Rimadyl and Tramadol twice a day for very painful arthritis. She wasn’t a fan of peanut butter and she got wise to the Tramadol being wrapped in her raw food so I started grinding it up into a powder and putting it in her whole meal. She ate it with no problem.
My experiences with my first cat taught me the importance of practicing pill tsking before you need to do it for real. She was rather like Finna – she could eat a bowl of tinned food leaving little stalagmites where the powdered pill was; spat out the pill after sucking all the tasty covering off; shook the carefully constructed liver pockets till the pill fell out; and if you tried to open her mouth and insert it would turn into a whirling dervish with teeth and claws. If you did succeed in getting the pill down her throat but didn’t hold onto her for at least a minute she would hiccup it back out. In the end I used to cocoon her in a soft dressing gown, and just get it over as quickly as possible. As young teenager, I explained to our very patronising vet just how difficult we found it, and why it was best to wrap her up. “No need for that” he said, “you just hold the cat like this, and the pill like this, and open her mouth, and…” at which point the cat was in one corner growling, the pill in another, and the vet was sucking a long gash on his thumb. “That’s what happened when I tried that, too” I remarked innocently…
This is a great post and has some great ideas which I’m sure I’ll get to try, later than sooner, I hope. I have a little old Jack Russell who could separate pills from anything – peanut butter, butter, even pocketed in a piece of hot dog, cheese or meat. Luckily, I discovered that, like the conductor who would eat rocks covered in butter, that if I wrapped the pill in cream cheese, he’d swallow it quite happily. And greedily. One day he managed to drop the pill on the floor and snatched it up and swallowed it; must have had a little taste of cheese still on it. But it’s a testament to the weirdness of dogs that cream cheese works with him and real cheese doesn’t. And my other two, who swallow good stuff whole…we’ll have to figure something else out. This whole topic just reminded me of working with horses. I can’t remember what the powdered medicine was, but we’d mix it into their sweet feed and it would seem to be absorbed by the molasses. Go to wash their feed tubs later and they’d be spotless except for the powdered medicine at the bottom. No opposable fingers but extremely talented tongues!
Wanda Jacobsen says
Homemade pill pockets: 1 tablespoon milk, 1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix and form 12 pill pockets. (I just roll small balls and can easily insert pills in them.) Store in the refrigerator or freeze.
I have a cavalier on meds that need to be given twice per day. My easy solution was to insert her pills in pieces of turkey hotdogs….until she decided she didn’t like turkey hotdogs any more! Grrrrr
soft cheese, refried beans, soft butter… all things I used when I ran out of the pill pockets that the vet gave us with Badger’s meds. He doesn’t really chew, so that helps.
When he was only ten weeks old he had a skin and ear infection, and since he wasn’t even 5 pounds yet, his antibiotic was in liquid form. Getting that syringe in a tiny squirmy puppy’s mouth twice a day for ten days was not fun. But then he liked the taste of the liquid anti-inflammatory he had when he broke his leg, so I’d just syringe it into my hand and let him lick it all up. That was a small mercy, because wrestling with a puppy with a leg cast and a cone of shame would have been awful.
Rebecca Rice says
I use homemade pill pockets (liverwurst, cream cheese, and enough finely crushed shredded wheat (I use the food processor) to make a playdoh consistency) to give my dogs their “super special puppy treats!” Since Katie takes two pills a day before breakfast, I also use some competition… ask for a behavior, pill her, give Pixie her joint supplement, new behavior, pill her, more for Pixie. We’ve done this long enough that the call “Super special puppy treats for super special puppies!” will bring them running to take them.
Of course, Pixie is so food motivated that the day I managed to drop her pill while trying to get it into a treat, she pounced on it and snapped it up plain. So I am pretty sure I won’t have a problem with her.
My cats, on the other hand… they were nightmares. Had one where you could do the whole “pop in mouth, close mouth, stroke throat” routine and she would get up, walk a few steps away and spit it out. They were also insanely picky about food… took them getting old and into kidney failure to even think about eating wet food. They’ve both passed on now, and there are a lot of things I would do differently if I ever get another cat.
Timely topic- my pit has been getting 2 pills twice a day after a skin infection. It took us a couple of days to get a rhythm going, but pill time has been quick and easy since then. The secret for us is coconut oil! He is a nut for the stuff!
I let him lick some coconut, then hubby gives him a little piece of something bready. Then, I coat the pill in coconut oil and open his mouth, putting it on the back of his tongue. I hold his mouth closed right away, and softly blow in his nose, which is a trick my mom taught me to make dogs lick and swallow.
When the pill is down, he gets more bread and oil, repeat for second pill, always end on something yummy. Now that we have a system, it takes about 3 minutes, and he doesn’t seem stressed at all.
Robin Jackson says
Hydrogen peroxide has two expiration dates, one for the sealed bottle and one for after it’s been opened. Very similar to soda pop. It will stay fizzy for about a year if it has never been opened, but goes flat in a month or two once the seal is broken.
So for first aid, buy in small bottles and know once you’ve opened it that bottle is only good for a few more weeks. Also a good idea to store with a clean turkey baster and rubber gloves as a full “Kit.” Note also that this method is never advised for cats.
Donna in VA says
Max is easy to pill, we use mozzarella because it is soft & pliable. Cut a small thin piece and mold around the pill and hand it to him. One vet did warn me that a particular pill was going to be evil-tasting and to avoid handling w/ my fingers. So empty pill from container onto counter without touching it, use the cheese as my “fingers” to pick it up and close over the pill. He then gets mozzarella in his kong also.
We used to dog-sit my husband’s aunt’s golden who was on several different meds for seizures and kidney problems… The old boy loved fruit, and wouldn’t you know it – raspberries are shaped with a neat little pocket built right into them? Bits of banana worked well too.
My dog is so food motivated that I can hide literally any medication in a bit of yogurt or canned food. He just licks the pills right up with the other stuff, no fuss.
Trisha, For the record, Finna thought the whole try to give Finna a pill thing was very funny, too. https://www.flickr.com/photos/33350160@N02/11411843195/in/set-72157627938760349
Susanne Wollman says
I’ve used several things over the years to pill various dog. When Bruce, my Pomeranian, had kidney failure first I wrapped the pill in cheese, when that stopped working, whipped cream cheese right off the spoon did the trick. My little Pomeranian, Kirby, gets meds for his seizures 3 times a day. Sometimes he get the pill in soft food I hand to him because of the multiple dogs in the house. Other times he gets it wrapped up in a mini marshmallow.
Kevin Landorf says
Very good information as usual Patricia! I have several comments about some of the replies which are very good. I am a veterinarian and try to find medicines which do not have to be dosed as frequently. If you have a pet that does not take medicines easily always tell your veterinarian! Secondly, thyroid medicine should be given on a nearly empty stomach as being given with meals can reduce its absorption. It is not harmful, but may be less effective. Thirdly, be careful with salt. Ingestion of salt in small or dehydrated animals can cause swelling of the brain and death. Hydrogen peroxide is safer. Or, as the comment says, apomorphine can be used by injection or in the eye and is much more predictable at your veterinarian. Great comments!
Great addition Kevin, thank you so much for weighing in and adding information. Good to know that hydrogen peroxide is safer than salt. And especially important to remind us that some meds need to be taken without food. Even more motivation for conditioning a dog take a pill that’s not encased in food.
Kat: Love the Finna photos! My best laugh of the day.
And thanks Rebecca for the reminder about the importance of adding cats to our conditioning regime. I needed the reminder myself; will work on it this weekend!
Great article. One caution for mixing with food it helps to use a small amount that way you ensure they get the whole dose before the dog decides they are full and won’t finish the bowl. Also I discovered blue cheese is great for wrapping pills since it is gooey and smelly most cheese loving dogs seem to be better able to ignore the medicine odor and chow down on the pill.
I noticed a change in acceptance of mediation from when my dog was younger to now. When younger it was not a big challenge. Now, even when I use the pill down the throat routine, and I think its down, he somehow works the pill back up and spits it out, like Hannibal Lector with the pen piece! It could be because he once was medicated with an antibiotic that he was allergic to…the bad experience affecting his later behavior. At the present time I use “ham chasers” – I wrap the pill in a piece of ham, and open his mouth and insert, and then quickly dangle another piece of ham in front of his nose. He’s so anxious to get the second piece, the first goes down pill and all. Love all the comments and will keep them in mind in case my current technique fails me in the future.
Vicki in Michigan says
The old every-day heartworm pills gave us a reason to practice giving pills to healthy dogs….
I started out with the three-item method — one piece of cheese (which they could take their time with), second piece of cheese (with pill inside), third piece of cheese administered IMMEDIATELY after the second.
Then one of our dogs spat out the pill.
Ok. If I have to learn how to stuff pills down throats, I can do that…..
I now think that dogs probably have canine teeth so they will be easier to pill. I use my left hand, over the muzzle, with thumb and forefinger inside the mouth, right behind the canines. Pill in right hand (I’m right-handed) thumb and forefinger. I use my right-hand middle finger to help pry open the mouth, if necessary. Pop in the pill, and then they get Dinner!!!!!!!! 🙂
My last “new dog” came to us at 1 year, and had been stray. He was not accustomed to letting people do things to him.
I bought the smallest shiny candy I could find (shiny so it would be smooth and go down easily), and gave him one as though it were a pill, every single day before his dinner, until he didn’t think anything of it. Just one more stupid human trick, ho hum, get it over with and HAVE DINNER!!!!!
I wanted him (like my other dogs) to be so used to taking pills that getting them wouldn’t be adding insult to injury when he was sick…….
He foiled my plan in the end, though — when he was 15 he developed cancer in his mouth. His mouth was so sore that he couldn’t bear to have it looked at, let alone have anything stuffed in.
Luckily for me, he would almost always eat his pills (even the Tramadol) if I just tossed them into his dish with, you guessed it, Dinner! And when he didn’t, I’d give him a few more kibbles, to encourage him to eat everything in his dish.
At the very end I would just give him a dozen kibbles with the pills, and maybe have to add a few to the dish a few times to get all the pills down. Telling him “YOU EAT THAT!” did help, I think. Maybe. Not clear what he could still hear, at 16…..
I’ve been very glad, over the years, that my dogs have been used to having things done to them. Nail trims. Pills. Feet wiped on wet days. Teeth scraping and/or brushing. They have all been used to the idea that people will do odd (and sometimes icky) things to them, from time to time, with no overall ill intent (and usually with treats after). It makes them easier for me to handle, and all of my dogs have been easy for others (vets!) to handle, too. ………………
When the pill is supposed to be chewed, is it less effective if the dog justswallows it whole?
Lorinne Anderson says
My favorite method is PROCESSED CHEESE SLICES. One slice will easily do 5-10 doses, just leave out to soften for a bit, peel open pkg, then fold cheese (the correct size to hide pill) over 1/4 to 1/2 inch and it will separate leaving a nice pliable strip. Place pill on strip and roll, pinch ends and voila, a cheap, tiny, cheese pocket that the dogs adore and (according to my vet) complies with meds that must be given on an empty stomach.
Then close the film back up, refrigerate until next dose, and repeat.
My 15 yr old rescue Pin needs 3 heart meds on an empty stomach. 0ne capsule twice daily, one quartered pill twice daily and one round pill once daily. I use the same tiny strip for all her meds each time she gets dosed; the capsule at one end and roll, the others at the other end and roll towards capsule, this end I pinch just to be sure nothing escapes.
Tried most suggestions and my dog spit out the capsule. Rolled it in
Strawberry Preserves and hand fed. He ate it!
My dog was prescribed Tramadol for post surgical pain when she had a half mammary strip. She had no bad reactions at all to it. It seemed to suit her very well, and she seemed to be in no pain at all. But she only took the Tramadol for a few days. It did her no harm.
Here are some risks of using tramadol for dogs
My dog Bandit is now 16 years old. About 5 years ago the turkey hot dog was the easy thing to do. It worked for at least 6 months before he started gently biting it and spiting it out.
Then I found a milk bone type with the meds in it. Just tried the 1 2 3 with the Tramadol it worked this time. I hope it con’t with the rest of the meds at 3X a day. Thanks for all the great tips and stories, and above all be kind.
This is just a thank you for all the suggestions, this trick was inspired by Patricia’s and all above suggestions around games (Thank you!). Hopefully this take on it might help anyone else who nearly lost their mind trying to get pills into their non-food motivated, clever, pain-in-the-b* canine (esp for Kat and Finna!). This was the strategy I used when Sandy (my rescue German Shepherd) no longer trusted any food (even her favourites) coming out of my hand.
She just had emergency surgery for a serverely infected uterus (despite her rescue papers saying she was desexed – don’t get me started on that), so I needed to administer a large number of antibiotics and pain relief pills twice a day post surgery. I’ve always had dogs, but this is my first older rescue, and wasn’t quite prepared for her mouth sensitivity when trying to administer the pill via the butter-shove-down-throat method. Surprise was on my side for pill 1, but no chance with the remaining 6-odd, twice a day.
We worked well with Devon initially, until I cut a piece too large, which she chewed, hit the pill, then no longer ate Devon. Move to second favourite – ham. Wrap the pill in Ham. She now must know the smell of the anti-biotic, now doesn’t eat ham. She then becomes suspicious of any food that comes out of my hand, pill or no pill. I resisted temptation to put it in her meals, contaminating her favourite chicken, in case I put her of that too (she really needs to eat to regain the weight she lost).
So (this goes to my desperation) – I read this site, get to the game idea and organised a pill-laced Pat’e treasure hunt on the front lawn (we hadn’t ‘contaminated’ Pat’e yet). I was so paranoid that she was onto me due to our hours of pill administration failures preceding it, I almost drew the curtains so she couldn’t see me do it! Or maybe I was just losing my mind. Either way, it worked a treat (just make sure you put markers down, sticks or something, so you can confirm all are eaten). It became a game that she seemed to enjoy (she’s bit of a tracker), was out of the pill-administering-environment (the house), and she had to find them herself, which had absolutely nothing to do with me. You obviously need to be careful, and get the dog out there ASAP once the medcine-trail is laid before any wildlife get to it (if you have magpies or ravens around, they’ll catch on pretty quick – you will likely only have a couple of turns up your sleeve). But after a couple of goes hopefully pills will be a distant memory for your dog, along with your connection to the whole horrible process, and you can find a new fav food (pate in this case). We now do it on a placemat in the house (which also saves me the frostbite), where she watches me cutting quartering all of her pills to be rolled in small amounts of pate, licking her lips. And she now eats from my hand again. I have 4 days left of pill giving which we look like we might complete stress free! Hope this helps!
susann Thomas says
I have tried every trick in the book there is absolutely no way to get a pill down my Chihuahuas throat she turned into a crazy maniacal lunatic opening and closing her mouth and snapping a hundred times a second the only thing to do is crush the pills mix it with a little water and honey put it in a syringe and squirt it down her throat she even knows before its time when she’s about to get a pill even if it’s different times a day then when you try to give it to her hs heart medications her tongue will turn purple and she will pee all over everything
Put Tramadol pills in Now “3” Gelatin Caps Extra Small Size purchased at Natural Grocers. Pharmacies do not sell empty gel caps. Inserted the gel caps in raw small, to avoid chewing, chopped steak meatballs. It worked great. I think the dog even looked forward to the meatballs. No more dog nor human anxiety. Anya and I am happy.
My 14 YO Tuffey hates peanut butter.
He’s aggressive and bites everyone around wanting to give him pill.
Frances Hogan says
Doggy daycare is great for keeping your dog active throughout the day and for socialization, but you want to make sure that you are exposing your dog to a positive experience. I’ve actually been on the hunt myself for a good doggy daycare in my area. Here is what I look for:
The only way Fiera, my 13year old Pom, will take her 3 pills twice a day is by crushing them and adding water and honey and into a syringe. I carry her like a baby and little by little squirt it into her mouth. She just loves being coddled and fed the pills. I really think she looks forward it. My only concern is if the pills loose their efficiency by being diluted in water. I asked my vet and he said as long as she gets her meds the method doesn’t matter much. Believe me, I tried everything before and she out smarted me! I hope this helps.
I am deeply fortunate people have dogs that let them be fed but, my German Shepherd is not a fan of food so I don’t know how to get pills in his mouth. I do the trick to just throw it in but he pukes it out after a few minutes and he could care less if it’s peanut butter he just got neutered and feels terrible.
Queenie Francisco says
My dog is sick and when we are giving her some medicine its either tablet or syrup she keeps on refusing it , she doesnt want to drink it and starting acting aggresive. What sould we do about that? I’m so stressed now thinking ways just to let her drink the medicine. Please reply, when we force her to drink she already biting us.
I have found another simple way to give my dog a pill.
Take a thin square slice of your dog’s favorite cheese (I like to use a piece ripped off of a cold cut cheese slice but I have a small dog). Keep in mind your dog’s size and choking hazards. Divide the pill as needed for safety. Place the small piece of cheese in the microwave, on a microwaveable plate for 10-15 seconds to melt. Place the pill in the center of the melted cheese. Gather the remainder of the melted cheese around the pill and completely cover it. Place the cheese “mixture”in the refrigerator for 5-7 minutes or until it has hardened and cooled. Give to your dog as a treat.
It works like a charm, everytime. I have a very intelligent Jack Russell Terrier who will not eat a flavored pill.
Thank you for the medication advise!!
My dog Rosie has always been a picky eater. Now that she is terminally ill and needs an herbal medicine orally- four pills 2 times per day- it’s crucial that she gets every dose. Up until recently she had been eating pills in cheese, chopped meat, and bits of chicken. But she had gotten pretty wise and always seems to find the pill lately. I had a lot of success today with a one teaspoon syringe (without a needle, obviously). I emptied the contents of her pills into 1 tsp of water, sucked it into the syringe, and held her head back as I slipped the syringe between the gap in her teeth and gave her her medicine. It was quick and she did not seem to mind very much.
You get get a similar antibiotic syringe at cvs. They simply gave it to me for free.
Great idea Mike, and good luck with Rosie, so sorry to hear about her diagnosis.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Just got our dog to willingly take a cheese-coated pill thanks to your advice! I purchased the smallest gelatin capsule (he’s less than 10 pounds), crushed the pill and filled the capsule making sure not to touch any portion of the outside of the capsule with the medicine lest he smell it and reject it. Washed my hands very well after filling. Still wiped off the outside of the capsule just in case and wrapped it up in cheese. He still sniffed it, and spit it out a few times before eating it (he’s so untrusting; Lol!), but VOILA!!!! HE ATE IT! HE ATE IT! HE ATE IT!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
OMG, I have to thank everyone that posted your suggestions and, most of all, your stories. Our Shepherd/Boxer mix has us at our wits end right now trying to get 6 pills per day down her throat in addition to the bland diet the vet has prescribed. Tonight was particularly trying. After getting two down with whipped cream the third was more challenging. After trying every favorite treat (cheese, hot dog, honey roasted turkey, blueberry) and still having a pill, we decided to try smashing into a powder and funneling into a pill pocket. As I worked to mush it all securely together I turned to see her sitting at the kitchen door with a look that said “oh yeah? Bring it on.” She took the treat, chewed twice and spit it all out. The only reason she ate her prescribed food was because one of the cats was trying to take it from her! Anyway, your stories have made me laugh out loud which was much needed, and given me a ton of ideas which were also much needed. And if anyone out there reading this is a dog trainer, please add how to pill a dog to your course as I agree with others that this is something we should all know how to do comfortably before our pets are ill.
How can I get my Chihuahua to eat honey? She doesn’t have a taste for it and I’m trying to get her to take some daily for her cough in place of drugs. Any suggestions
I use cheese slices. I put the pill in the middle and make a perfect round ball that my dog swallows without looking at it.
Jeremy F. says
If there is an opportunity to handle without pills so you should use it I think. We only gave pills to our labrador when he was infested with fleas badly. The infestation was very hard then so we had to give him medication prescribed by a vet. But if the situation is not so serious it’s better to use natural remedies.
Sarah L. says
The 1, 2, 3 game worked great for my puppy! I cut a hole in a piece of chicken to disguise the pill and it worked great! I chose chicken because he’s had diarrhea for a week and needed something bland. Thank you so much! Mixing it in his hopeful solid poop canned dog food did not work! So happy to have found this!!
Love the comments and husband and I also laughed when reading various comments.
Couldn’t read all comments but ones I did read would not help with Radar (rescue weighing all of 11 pounds). Had begun forming of struvite (spell?) crystals. Went through bag of prescription food (that was a battle)! Did really help though. Vet put him on lower prescription food. Same issue. Still have 3 cans left. After some investigation into what he needed from the prescription food I found it was DL meth(something). Found my Purina One did not have that. Told my vet and he has some chewable tablets (twice a day) that every dog loves! Not Radar!! Tried every method mentioned except the 123 but Nope, that wouldn’t work on him either. Last resort is crushing the “chewable pill” in dog food with gravy, pill poppers (different flavors), Pedigree pouch beef flavored. Only worked a very few times. Now, in order to TRY to get 2 of these pills into him, I crush, then use very warm water and then add a little beef stock, or beef or chicken gravy and inject into his mouth every so slowly. Poor baby started shaking when he sees me at the county! Today I crushed 1/2 of one pill, took little bit and added inside pill popper. Gave him portions of 2 poppers, then one with very little prescription and he ate part of it. Can’t seem to find anyone so far that has a prescription soft food that he will eat.
patricia gonzales says
will giving the pills in peanut butter everyday be harmful in the long run or should i rotate cheese and peanut butter?
Sheri and Dennis Taylor says
Thank You for all of your ideas.
Our Doberman is 12 years old and Dobermans don’t live much beyond 15.
Bella is the sweetest dog – she Loves My Husband and I – My Husband more.
She is an 85 pound Lap Dog – has been since day one.
She had a seizure 4 nights ago – we took her to her ER Vet. Hospital – Ohr Doctor said that we needed to watch her and if she gets worse – we may need to bring her back and put her on seizure medication.
Bella has ‘Separation Anxiety’ really bad and if she sees us packing things up – she knows we are going somewhere. She literally sticks her nose on my thing – ie. – ‘Velcro Dog’ as im trying to walk out of the house.
She also has a swollen lymph gland and we are giving her antibiotics for that and her teeth – her top teeth on the right are swollen and need to be cleaned.
She had a seizure 4 days later (and they are Grand Mall) – it breaks our hearts to see her going thru them.
We started her on seizure medication – not phenobarbital – one that doesn’t have side affects like that.
She takes that okay – but the antibiotic doesn’t taste good – we can’t mask the taste or smell at all – so
Now she thinks everything we give her that she usually loves – she looks at us like – I’m not falling for this at all!!!’
I read some of the replies and will get some more ideas as well.
Thank you for your help.
P.S. – were you able to finish watching the Packers play? My Son and his wife (she is from Wisconsin) and Myself are Packer Fans – have been for years.
My Mom liked them from Day 1 – the Bart Starr days!!!! 🌈😊
Kristen Sukalac says
It’s so nice to read that we’re not alone. Our Cane Corso is recovering from abdominal surgery that saved him from bloat (thank goodness we caught it quickly!). He used to be super easy to medicate. He takes two large food supplements every day with a bit of liver pâté. Although he is food-motivated, he has been becoming a pickier eater in recent months. So we came back from the hospital with four different meds, included the infamous Tramadol. It’s taken me a while of trial and error, but I think I’ve figured this out with your help and now understand some of the reasons he’s been being particularly difficult. In addition to the horrible taste of Tramadol (why isn’t veterinary Tramadol sold in gel caps????), I think his mouth and throat might be hurting from the intubation. So he’s rejecting bigger pills even if they don’t taste bad.
What seems to be working:
1. Cutting the pills into the smallest sizes possible (several of them are marked to be able to cut in four
2. Using different knives for cutting the pills and slicing treats
3. Giving “blank” treats before starting the meds and then randomly scattered among the treats that have pills”. (I also used blanks to test that he was willing to eat at all, which prevented waste.)
4. Only touching the pills with my left hand and the food with my right.
5. Only preparing each pill at the very last second. As well as preventing the pill from dissolving into the food and making it taste funny, this reduces the waste of the treat food if the dog isn’t going for it. (You should have seen how much carrier food I wasted yesterday before working out this system.)
Am I convinced this system will last for the entire treatment period? Absolutely not. But we only have 3 more days of Tramadol. Hopefully things will get easier afterwards.
Brilliant work arounds Kristen, thanks so much for taking the time to share. And good luck with the healing process, all paws crossed.
Briana Bright-Williamson says
Thanks for the great suggestions! I have successfully used peanut butter and pate cat food with much success after reading this blog. I have also experimented with cream cheese in place of peanut butter as well as rolled up pieces of bologna wrapped around the pill; both were also successful.
My dog is super picky. I used to be able to give her tramadol by hiding it in a spoonful of canned chicken, but eventually she started eating just the chicken and leaving the pill. Thankfully, I was able to put it in peanut butter and I placed it on the roof of her mouth with my finger. She ate it no problem. However, be careful not to put too much in their mouth bc they could choke. This method worked really well for me though!
Thank you for this wonderful string of ideas! I have an aging JRT who was fine with taking pills right up until she was diagnosed with a lung tumor and cardiac complications. For the past month, I will find one thing that works, but then she figures it out and I have to find another way to hide the meds. I even tried a pill popper thingy, but since she’s so little she only gets 1/4 of most pills and the pill popper didn’t work. Here is the list of food options I have compiled through copious internet searches and meanderings through the grocery store. I hope it helps someone else, because I have been at my wit’s end.
Bread (Hawaiian works well b/c it’s moist)
Cheese (mozzarella, velveeta, cheese wiz, blue cheese/stinky cheese, baby bell)
Baby Food (pumpkin, etc)
Lil Smokies/Hot dogs
Greenie’s and Purina Pill Pockets
Vetoquinol (found on Amazon)
Empty gelatin capsules (found on Amazon – haven’t tried yet, but should help mask the bitterness)
Wet dog food
Wet cat food
Wet food ‘toppers’ (in pet aisle)
Little bites muffins (make sure not to get chocolate)
Currently, we’re using Vetoquinol to mask the taste and a thin strip of chicken wrapped around it. That’s worked for a full day now, so most likely it won’t work much longer. Ugh.
Have you talked to your vet about having a dispensary make a compound for you? Sounds like at least one of the pills must bitter, or awful tasting in some way. There’s always the chance that the medicine bothers her stomach, and so she’s classically conditioned to avoid the taste. That said, what a wonderful list you have sent! One caution to all: Be sure none of the food is “sugar free” and contains xylitol. It’s fatal in small quantities to dogs. Best of luck to you, thanks for your efforts to help others, much appreciated.
Jamie Fidgett says
What about crushing the pill and putting it under the tongue or on it at the side of the mouth. This method should be used in extreme cases when they can’t eat properly and that’s why they are taking the tablet like worms
We think you should think of natural solutions, we think medicine is for emergencies only.
I think we need to use all the tools in our toolbox, understanding that yes, if something has the power to do good, then it has the power to do harm. That goes all the way around.
It’s a relief to hear a lot of other people going through the pill wars, although I’m sorry it can be a battle for so many of us. My dog (50 lb mutt) now only eats at night; she needs to take three types of pills 2x/day (and 5 pills once a day). Gretyl has been battling a couple of nasal infections for months (after getting radiation for a nasal tumor) and we finally hit on the right combo of drugs. She was eating pills fine with peanut butter for a few months and then just refused and now won’t eat until nighttime. She has done this once before with a similar pill situation (and earned the nickname “Bunnicula”–she’s a very soft vampire).
So now she will usually take all her pills (at night only) in various disguises that I give along with treats and sometimes use a target stick. I’m considering using a pill gun for morning pills, but wonder if that’s cruel. Thoughts? I admit I get so frustrated and nervous when I try to give her pills in the daytime that I can’t be upbeat about it until after/if she swallows them. I really don’t want to be cruel to her and force them down…
The Sophia Yin link in the article isn’t up anymore. Any idea where it is?
My Shelly has been through cholangial hepatitis, then (melting) pancreatitis, which is how it was told to me , not explained by one of the “vets”. Now is having severe liver issues as well as gall bladder sludge and is still ill. I have been tube feeding/medicating/water for over 2 wks. they just took out feed tube yesterday – brought her out to me – with the incision, staples (one the day before because they said it was infected. Happy to get her tube removed however Shellbeans is not – NOT – a pill taker. Extremely heart breaking and tough and exhausting thing to go through, watching her suffer. They said leave the sore alone – it will heal faster yet it was bleeding right after getting home. Now they want me to give her all of her meds which we all know are horrendous. Anyway, i have been awake all night trying to find answers. I gave her the meds last night – I WAS MORTIFIED! she made an “ouch” noise and I hurt her little throat. I will not do it again. I have done it all re: the pills however now-she is suffering in every part of her gut. Not in pain for the most part because I can see, feel and just look at her and know. Anyway – now she is extremely limited to fatty food – extremely knowledgeable and can pick a med the size of a grain of sand (or smell). I was told-oh, no, don’t give her liverwurst, too fatty. Of course I wont. However I am having serious issues with the vet(s) and tests and waiting to tell me if they will remove her gall bladder! now it’s – “come back in a month for a re-check”! Tell me the truth or get Dr. Vet over here to deal w/ my poor dog. I am quite angry and perhaps this is not the forum to share – I apologize. After 3 wks. and she is not better with 24/7 care – from ME that is… tell me the truth – I don’t want my Shelly to suffer. They should not be able to go on and on and torture these pets if they know what the outcome will be. I know it is not for certain and I don’t want to hear that. Just stop bleeding people and refusing to release your pet until you pay – IN FULL – bill- $5,000, can’t pay – we will keep your dog! WHAT TYPE OF VET (person) does that and gets away with it. So, when you run out of cash, your pet is another very, very sad example of … well, you finish… I have to deal w/ a vet that sent my dog home with an open wound after telling me it was infected the day before! All vets, nah, I hope not but i literally was with no funds and they told me to call someone or do something or my dog is not my dog. wow btw, no one will probably read this venting (sorry) commentary but if someone does, love your pet and choose help with great care.
katherine: I am so sorry that you and your dog both are suffering so. I send you my best wishes for a resolution to your shared pain.