Does your dog bark at you when it’s time for her pills while you’re spending a few extra minutes doing something else?
No? Mine does!
Having a dog with a positive attitude towards medications makes daily routines a whole lot easier, preserves your bond with your dog, and gives you peace of mind knowing your dog ingested the medication that will help her ailments.
Here are 8 tips:
1.) You need a very tasty treat to hide pills in.The treat also has to be sticky so the pill adheres to it. Some ideas include: liver sausage, cheese, peanut butter, canned food (especially cat food), or pill pockets. The dog should only get the treats for pill time and it has to be gooey enough to roll it around the pill so it won’t readily fall out.
2.) Competition is good! If you have more than one dog, having them all be attentive during pill time helps tremendously. Even if the other dogs don’t need medication, you should be giving them “placebos” (i.e. treats without pills in them) while giving pills to the other dog. Dogs always want what the other dogs have, and you can use this fact to your advantage.
3.) For dogs with good noses, it’ll take a little extra work for them not to smell the pill. First, put the pill in the treat, then either wash your hands or use your other hand without pill residue on it, to roll the pill in the treat. If you don’t do this, pill residue may be on the outside of the treat, allowing dogs to smell it easily.
4.) Use the “TPT” (treat/treat with pill/treat) method. With this, you give the pet a treat without a pill in it, followed up quickly and immediately by the treat with the pill, followed up quickly and immediately with a treat without the pill. Your dog will be left wondering what happened and asking for more.
5.) Observe if your dog bolts food down without swallowing much, or takes her time chewing. The ones that tend to bolt their food are easier to pill since they are less likely to detect it, and can sometimes be given bigger treats with up to two pills inside.
6.) If the doctor suddenly prescribes multiple pills, and your dog is not used to taking medication, don’t try to give all of them at once. Ask your doctor which ones are most important, and which ones can be delayed by a day or two. Give the pet the most important ones first, then gradually, you can add more pills. This will help you achieve better success rates and be less likely to have pill rejection. If you take care at the outset, the whole process will go much more smoothly.
7.) If your dog does happen to catch onto one of the pills and refuses to take it in that particular treat, use one of the other examples above. It has to stick to the pill and be very, very tasty. It’s ok to mix things up now and then. After a while, you can always go back to the original treat.
8.) If all else fails, ask your veterinarian about a compounding pharmacy. They can compound the medication to liquid or even treats.
I hope this helps you administer pills to your senior dog, or any dog that requires medication. Please share if you think someone you know can benefit from these tips.
Dr. Kari Trotsky is the founder and owner of Peaceful Endings for Pets, providing hospice and at-home euthanasia to dogs and cats in need.