Dogs will eat almost anything it seems, right? Your sock, your homework, or a stray kitchen floor scrap, but when it comes time to take their medicine for whatever ails them, many of us dog parents find ourselves frustrated when trying to get our pets to take it without a fuss. We’ve all experienced seeing the medication left sitting there looking right back at us!
Before we talk about the many options that may be helpful, always check with your pet’s veterinarian in regard to the details about the medications. Some medications may have a coating on them in which case they shouldn’t be cut or crushed. This coating is necessary for timed release of the medication and breaking or crushing it will destroy it. And always follow the medication directions for timing, dosage, etc. It is also imperative before trying any of the methods below to know your pet’s allergies to ingredients and to check labels thoroughly and consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure.
For most pets, the obvious way of ‘hiding’ a medication is through food. If your pet is food-driven it seems easy enough to hide the pill in a small bit of peanut butter, canned cheese, a marshmallow, a small piece of deli meat, cream cheese, or maybe wet dog food if they are used to dry food. If your dog is especially keen on eating the food and pushing the pill to the side, you could try crushing or grinding the pill. For a medication in capsule form, try opening the capsule and mixing the powdered medicine with a wet food such as gravy, cream cheese, peanut butter, etc.
Another idea is to use your dog’s paw. Whether it’s a crushed pill, a liquid, or powdered medication from a capsule, mixing it a small amount of peanut butter, cream cheese and smearing it on your dog’s paws might also work. They will lick it off and ingest the medication in the process.
If your dog is not taking the medication through food, another option that is especially handy and readily available are pill pockets. These work well if your dog is a fast eater or one who wolfs down their food or treats. They come in a variety of flavors and most dogs seem to like them and they’re easy enough to hide the pill in its whole form.
Perhaps your dog’s medication is a liquid. In this case, mixing the liquid medication with a pate or a gravy from wet food often works well. You can also give liquid meds via an oral “syringe.” This is often successfully done by giving it on the side of the mouth against the cheek. This may be something you can do alone but if not, asking a family member to help is a good idea. Not all dogs are overly cooperative. Giving your pet medicine is not only stressful for them, but it can also be stressful for you, too. Having someone hold your dog while you administer the medication will not only be helpful for you but also less stressful for you and your dog.
As always, asking your vet to demonstrate how to get your dog to take medication with less of a fight is always a good idea. He/she can help show you proper techniques and offer expert ideas into helping make this process less stressful.
In my personal experience, every dog is different like we are as people. You may need to try several different ways until you find one that is successful for you and your dog. Be patient and gentle and ask for help if necessary. In the end, we want what’s the very best for our pets and are willing to try to find whatever works to keep them healthy and happy!
Nicole Patrizio, Board Member and Fospice Mom