Monday, January 19, 2015

10 Ways to Get Pills Into a Dog.

Brisbane is currently on four different medications, so pills are a daily part of our lives. At work I give a lot of dogs their medications in Pill Pockets, but the standard ones are full of chicken and the allergy-friendly ones use duck. Briz is allergic to poultry, so no Pill Pockets for us. Instead, we use a variety of other methods to get Brisbane medicated. He's mostly cooperative, but there are definitely some pills he minds more than others.

1. Just feed it.
Some dogs will snarf down anything. This works particularly well with fish oil capsules and pills that are designed to be tasty. A lot of joint supplement pills are made to taste good, and some flea and heartworm preventatives are as well. Brisbane will usually just eat his Comfortis pill plain, though he makes faces while he chews it up. I know plenty of labradors who will happily gobble down any object that is fed like a treat.

2. Throw it in some kibble.
Once again, this can be more or less successful depending on the dog and how they eat. Those that hoover up anything in their bowl without stopping to chew probably won't even notice an extra-special addition. Plenty of dogs at work get their tasty joint supplements tossed in with their kibble. Brisbane, on the other hand, would definitely leave that white pill behind in the otherwise empty bowl.

3. Throw it in some tastier food.
Brisbane will eat most pills right along with his kibble if I stick them in a bit of something tasty. Pumpkin, yogurt, apple sauce, and baby food all make capsules and tablets a little more palatable. The only pills Brisbane won't eat this way are large tablets, like human joint supplements.

4. Offer it on a spoon.
While Briz will eat most of his pills in a bowl of kibble, this isn't the way I normally get him medicated. Brisbane gets his daily ration of kibble in the form of training treats, or dispensed from some of our wide variety of puzzle toys. Food bowls aren't part of daily life here, but treats offered on spoons are a regular sight. Since my dogs are familiar with the concept of licking food off spoons, they are less likely to notice that there's an extra lump in there.
5. Hide it in a treat.
American cheese slices are pretty common DIY Pill Pockets, some of the dogs at work get theirs wrapped in bread or lunch meat. I like processed cheese because it can be mooshed around the pill really well. I find individually wrapped processed cheese slices like Kraft Singles pretty convenient for a dog that needs pills every day, I just rip off as much as I need and then wrap the rest of the slice back up. Ru never falls for this trick.

6. Pretend to feed it to someone else.
Nothing encourages pill snarfing like a little competition. Brisbane might be feeling a bit 'meh' about a treat, but he's willing to choke it down just to keep another dog from eating it. He will even deliberately swallow a pill he already spit out if he thinks Ru might get it. Of course I have to be careful not to accidentally medicate the wrong dog.

7. Feed three treats.
The pill is always in the middle treat. The first treat is to lull the dog into a false sense of security, there's no yucky pill hiding in there. The second and third treats should be fed very quickly, they'll be less suspicious of the second treat and eager to swallow it so they can hurry up and eat the third treat. For highly suspicious dogs, random three-treat sequences with no pills can help throw them off.

8. Put it in something stinky and wonderful.
That's not boring processed cheese, that's herbed goat cheese! I tend to save the extra-stinky stuff for temporary meds like antibiotics, and for dogs who really hate pills. When it comes to stress-free medication, the pill vehicle doesn't need to be a healthy part of their diet. I'm willing to use cat food, fancy cheese, and anything else that particular dog loves.

9. Put it in something sticky.
Peanut butter is currently my favorite way to get pills into Brisbane. One small spoonful will hold 6+ pills. It's tough to spit out, and everybody loves it. Brisbane will even take large yucky tablets this way, without trying to spit them out. I honestly think the pills make the peanut butter easier to eat, since they don't stick quite as much as just peanut butter. I've also seen peanut butter spread on bread and wrapped around pills. Honey would also likely work the same way.
10. Liquefy it.
Ru is currently on antibiotics for a urinary tract infection, and Ru hates pills. The easiest way to get meds into him is in liquid form. Usually I ask the vet for liquid medication, but sometimes I end up grinding up tablets and mixing them with a little water, yogurt, or baby food. This doesn't work for capsules or time-release medication. Ru doesn't really like his antibiotics, but I can just pull his little cheek out and squirt the medication into his mouth.

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