Giving your pup medication isn’t always the easiest task; humans aren’t the only ones who don’t like taking pills or swallowing a bitter liquid. Just one lick of medication can make some dogs suspicious of anything that’s not beef jerky. Luckily, there are alternatives to the traditional offensive tasting medicine and ways to get your dog to take them. Just make sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions as some medicine must be taken on an empty stomach.
What foods are best for hiding pills and powders?
Pill Pockets – Soft dog treats like pill pockets, easily disguise meds that come in the form of a pill. Keep in mind, the smaller the treat, the less time your dog has to chew and discover the pill. The less your furry friend tastes of the medicine, the easier it will be for you to give him meds in the future.
Creamy Textures – Dogs typically like peanut butter and cream cheese, so they are great choices to mask the taste and smell of medication. Check with your vet if you think you may need to open the capsule or crush the pill first as some medications can’t be altered.
Use Cheese – Baby Bell Cheeses or American cheese are great hiding sources. Make sure to use a small amount as some dogs have a dietary sensitivity to dairy. Avoid any foods with garlic, onions, or xylitol.
Get Smelly – In general, dogs like food that are stinky. Liverwurst, meat sticks, baby food, wet cat food, and rotisserie chicken are all great options that have potent flavors that are appealing to canines.
Trick-Or-Treat – This method is consisting of treat, pill, treat. The first piece of cheese is fed unadulterated. The second one is quickly offered and hides the pill. The third is a plain piece of cheese. By ending on a positive note, the dog associates eating the cheese with a happy experience and is more likely to take the bait the next time!
How do I mask a liquid medication?
Medicine doesn’t always come in pills. Liquid medication is commonly prescribed for smaller breeds. Canned goods are perfect for mixing liquid medication. Ice cream or whipped cream can hide these medications if your dog isn’t sensitive to those specific foods. You don’t need to add much, just a couple of tablespoons to mask the unpalatable flavor. You want to make sure that you give a small amount in hopes that your pup will consume it entirely before tasting the unfavored flavor. Best to have a few extra teaspoons in case your dog rejects the first attempt.
How do I administer liquid medication without a food aid?
If you must administer the liquid medicine by hand, it’s easier to have a second person to help. It’s best to bring medicine to room temperature first, but make sure not to microwave it. Tilt your dog’s head back and insert the syringe tip just behind your dog’s canine teeth. You should angle the syringe so that the medicine dispenses onto your pet’s tongue. Slowly release the medicine so your pup has time to swallow. If your dog spits out some of the medication, consult your vet prior to re-administering medication.
Do I have any other options?
Other options for making the medicine go down include having your pet’s prescription custom compounded. Flavored tabs, liquids, or even a gel that can be applied inside the ear flap can be created at a compounding pharmacy familiar with pet medication. While a salmon flavored syrup might not sound tasty to a human, dogs love it! Transdermal (through the skin) medication may also work best if your dog has medical conditions such as pancreatitis, inflammatory disease, or food allergies.
What happens if I miss?
If you suspect your dog consumed even a partial dose, don’t re-dose without talking to your veterinarian first. Empty gelatin capsules can also be filled with small amounts of liquid medication. You can ask your vet if this method of dosing might be an option. You can also request a few extra pills from your vet until you master your technique.
After administering your pet’s medication, always spend a little extra cuddle or play time with him. It will calm his nerves and reinforce a positive next experience with medicine!
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