If you have ever had to give a dog meds, you know how difficult it can be. Whether it’s a pill or liquid, some dogs are masters at not taking their medicine. My own puppy actually started running when he saw the peanut butter because he knew what I hid inside it. Seriously?! For dogs like this, you have to be stealthy. Here are a few tips to getting your dogs to take their medicine, no spoonful of sugar needed.
#1 – Wet, Stinky Food
Hiding a pill or mixing liquid in with something that has a strong smell and is really enticing can work. For my peanut butter kid, I found canned salmon works wonders. The strong fish smell masks any smell the pill might have and he loves it, so he eats it right up. If you feed wet food daily, use a flavor or something like the salmon that he doesn’t get every day so it seems like a special treat.
#2 – Add Competition
If you have more than one dog in the house, get a bunch of soft treats, and hid the pill in one and put that one, along with a few more treats in one hand. In the other hand, feed some treats to the other dogs. Then give the dog that needs the meds the treats with the pills. Most dogs will eat quicker in the presences of other dogs, usually without really thinking about it too much. Do not do this if you have resource guarders.
#3 – Fake ‘Em Out
How do you do this? Make up (or buy) some large soft treats, that are big enough to hold their meds. Give them to your dog randomly – with one of them containing the pill.
#4 – Turn It Into a Game
Using the same type of treats from 3 (you can actually combine these two methods if necessary), toss your dog the treats so he has to catch them. Give him a couple then throw the one with the med. For most dog, their mind is on the game at this point, and not whether or not the treat has medication in it. Throwing the treats fairly quickly – so your dog has to eat quickly to be ready to catch the next one – can also help.
#5 – Adding A Capsule
Some medicines are particularly bitter tasting, like metronisazole and tramadol (both of which are commonly given to dogs!). You can help mask that by buying empty gel caps to place them in. These do get sticky when they get wet, so you will want to put them inside a treat or in a wet food, otherwise they may stick to your dog’s tongue.
#6 – Make ‘em Think They Scored
Have the treats and pills already and then wait. Most dog’s watch their owners prepare the treat and then look at you like “Yeah right, I know what you put in this treat.” Instead, make up a couple doses worth and keep them in the fridge. Something like meatballs is great for this. Then, get one out when it’s time to medicate and also get out some of your food. Pretend to prepare your food and “drop” his treat on the floor – your dog will think he just got a jackpot – part of your dinner. You know he just got medicated.
#7 – Wait Until Their Distracted
Another good time to try and get a dog to eat a medication-filled treat is when they are thinking about something else. Similar to the idea behind the “game” mentioned in #4, try giving your dog the treat while on a walk or during a car ride, mixed in with his training treats, etc. The more distracted your dog is the less he will be thinking about what’s in the treat.
#8 – Put on Paws
For a liquid or powder medicine, try mixing it with something like peanut butter (or even regular butter) and then put it on the top of the front paws. Your dog will naturally lick it off, because they don’t like these on their paws. Viola! Meds received.