Our dog has recently been put on a daily medication. We are having trouble getting him to take the pill. Any advice on ways to get him to take his meds?
Tough Pill to Swallow in Woodland Heights
Dear Tough Pill,
People often think of cats as being the hardest to “pill,” but oftentimes, dogs can be just as persnickety about taking their medications. Luckily, dogs are typically more readily agreeable to take a pill that is hidden in their food than cats are, so that might be your best course of action. The next step is to find a type of food that you can use to conceal the pill and trick your dog all at the same time.
First thing’s first: Check with your vet about any dietary restrictions that your dog might have, as well as any food/drug interactions that might cause a stomach upset in your dog. Additionally, it is often ill-advised to crush a pill and put it in food, as some medications require that they stay whole until they enter the dog’s system.
While a slice of cheese can work for some dogs for getting a pill down the hatch, many dogs are experts at unwrapping the pill in their mouth, eating the cheese, and spitting the pill out on the floor (smart buggers).
So, if you don’t have any strict dietary restrictions and have the time and patience to try out a few tricky foods in which to hide a pill, here are some of the most popular among dogs:
Most dogs LOVE peanut butter, and its sticky consistency makes it a great substance to conceal a pill, keep your dog from eating around his pill and spitting the meds right out. A word of caution: check the ingredients of your peanut butter carefully and make sure that it doesn’t contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol, which is toxic and terribly dangerous for dogs. When in doubt, stick with all-natural, unsweetened peanut butter.
Dairy is iffy for some dogs and with some medications, but if it’s safe for your dog in small amounts, cream cheese often appeals to even the most finicky pooches. The consistency–similar to peanut butter–is great for concealing medications as well.
If you were alive in the 1980s, you might remember squirt cheese–the fluorescent orange “processed cheese food” that comes in a can. No judgement if squirt cheese is still a part of your diet, but it is also beloved by dogs and can be helpful in getting medications down, not to mention convenient in its delivery.
Perhaps the most surprising on this list are marshmallows. As long as having a little sugar is safe for your dog, the spongy texture of a marshmallow is the perfect hiding spot for a pill and many dogs will gobble a marshmallow right up (while promptly asking for another.)
Pieces of hot dog
Similar to a marshmallow, the texture of a hot dog makes it the perfect vehicle for a pill. You might not want to give your dog a whole hot dog, but a piece of hot dog will likely entice your pooch to take his meds like a good boy.
If all else fails, consider purchasing specially-made “Pill Pockets” at your local pet supply store. These treats are designed to conceal a pill and are made from safe ingredients for your pet. In fact, they even make Pill Pockets for cats if you have a picky kitty who needs meds.
A final thought: Some dogs are notorious for being fickle, so if one method of pilling your dog is working today, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work tomorrow. So, plan to be flexible and willing to try different methods for getting his medications down. If you repeatedly strike out, seek your vet’s advice on a different type of medication or alternate method for treating your dog’s condition.
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