Medicating your dog is probably one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do as a pet owner. At least that’s the case for me, and I know I can’t be alone. Otherwise, why would they make pill pocket dog treats? While those are a pretty good option, what do you do when you run out? You’re not going to hop in your car and drive to the pet store just to grab something special to make Fido take his pills, are you? I’ve gotten pretty creative over the years when it comes to medicating dogs. I’m sharing my favorite tips with you!
Tips for Medicating Your Dog
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Store-bought pill pockets
If you want to go the fastest and easiest route for medicating your dog, those store-bought mentioned above “pill pockets” treats really are a great invention. They’re made by Greenies (maybe other brands make them too, but I’ve only ever seen Greenies’ brand) and come in a few different flavors. You just pop the pill in the pocket and hope your dog is in the mood for a treat!
Hide it in any soft treat
While Cooper will eat just about anything, my dog Tasha was probably the hardest dog in the world to medicate. She would not eat the pill pockets. I think Tasha knew it contained medicine. She was a German Shepherd; they’re pretty hard to fool! With her, if the pill were small enough, I’d smoosh it into one of her favorite soft treats. You’ll need something that’s thick enough to conceal the tablet, but small enough that your dog will pretty much woof it down in one swallow. Otherwise, your dog just gets a lovely treat, and you find the pill spit back out onto the floor!
We have some fabulous no-bake dog treat recipes that would work really well for concealing pills. Try our coconut no-bake recipe or our peanut butter treat, depending on what your dog likes best. Watch this video tutorial on how to make this no-bake dog treat.
Peanut butter is your best friend
For super picky dogs who are incredibly crafty about finding pills in their treats (and spitting them out!), peanut butter is your best friend. I used to make Tasha “peanut butter and pill” sandwiches. Of course, that meant I had to make the other dogs “peanut butter & placebo” sandwiches too, so they didn’t feel left out. Obviously, you’re not going to give your dog a whole sandwich. I just made them bite-size. Unlike hiding it in a treat, peanut butter ensures that the pill “sticks.” It’s not nearly as easy for your dog to separate the medicine from the treat.
Mixing it in their food
I’m not a huge fan of this tip, and I only use it as a second-to-last resort (see my last resort below). Why? For several reasons. First, my dogs don’t always eat all their food in one sitting. If I put meds in Maia’s food, there’s a chance she’ll walk away and Cooper will swoop in to steal some. We do our very best to prevent this, but boy, that dog is a fast thief! Second, you have to double-check with your vet to make sure this is okay. Many medications can’t be ground up, and some can’t be taken with food. It’s just an iffy idea. If you have just one dog that always finishes her food AND your vet okays it, this tip could work well, though.
The “Pop it In The Back of the Throat” trick
When it comes to medicating your dog, this tried and true method sounds like it should be the easiest, but in my case, it’s not. The premise is simple: you pop open your dog’s mouth, put the pill towards the back of their throat, then close their mouth and rub their throat to get them to swallow. This post has great directions on how to do it.
Here’s how it goes with Cooper: open mouth, insert pill. Dog gags does really weird acrobatics with his tongue and ejects a slimy pill at my feet. Try again. Retrieve pill from slobber on floor. Beg Maia to stop barking, remind her that this has nothing to do with her, and we’re not hurting Cooper. Try again. Beg Cooper to just swallow. Retrieve pill from slobber. Try again. Repeat until the pill FINALLY goes down his throat.
It’s not that I’m bad at pilling my dog, it’s just that Cooper is really GOOD at getting it out of his throat and onto the floor. If your dog is more cooperative, you might be able to pull this off without a major to-do. This trick is also good for liquid medications.
Of all these tips for medicating your dog, the “pill in treat” and “pill in peanut butter” tend to work best for me. Nine times out of ten, I can get a pill into my dog using one of those tactics.