If you’re dealing with a dog who refuses to cooperate and take his pill, I feel your pain. For 14 days I had to give an antibiotic to my pill resistant dog, Tucker. It about drove me crazy. He was quite a challenge during this time and I had to get pretty creative. I decided to make a list of what worked for me in case there were other dog owners dealing with a similar situation. I’ve also included food suggestions.
1. Remember to remain calm. It can be very frustrating when your dog refuses to cooperate but your dog’s refusal to take the pill isn’t personal. After all, how would you like it if someone shoved something in your mouth, held your mouth closed and waited for you to swallow? They’re really just reacting the only way they know how.
2. Allow for plenty of time. It is hard to remain calm when you’re rushed. Dogs feed off your energy so the calmer you are the easier it will be for both of you.
3. I would also avoid talking since your tone of voice and energy will communicate that something is about to happen which will likely make your dog more anxious (and uncooperative).
4. Start by giving a small portion of the dog’s food with the pill hidden in the food rather than giving your dog his entire food portion at once. My dog would eat all the food and leave the pill but if I gave him a small portion, he tended to gulp it down, pill and all. And those times he left the pill, I still had some food to use. Once your dog takes his pill, go ahead and give him the remainder of his food.
5. If I know that I have to get my dog to take a pill for several days, I come up with alternatives, the last resort being putting the pill in the dog’s mouth. Finding a food or treat that your dog finds irresistible will make this process so much easier so experiment and see what happens. Just remember, no chocolate, onions, raisins or grapes! Here are some foods that have worked for me:
1. Canned dog food.
2. Canned pumpkin. The texture allows you to hide the pill and you only need about a tablespoon of pumpkin.
3. Bread. I break the bread into several small pieces and roll the pieces into a ball with the pill in one of them. Give a piece without the pill then quickly give the one with the pill, then the pieces without the pill. Sometimes the dog figures out there’s a pill so continue alternating with no pill, then pill, until they take the pill.
4. Any smelly food can work, like salmon. Dogs tend to love salmon and eat it quickly so they might not notice a pill.
5. Cooked hot dogs. Slice them and, depending on the size of the pill, press the pill into the hot dog. You can feed a non-pill slice, then a pill slice. They’re usually so happy to get hot dogs they gulp them down.
6. When the pills are too large to put in a hot dog slice, I mix together cooked oatmeal, sliced hot dog and a tablespoon of canned pumpkin and hide the pill in that mixture.
7. Peanut butter sandwich. Feed the sandwich in small portions and tuck the pill in one of the portions.
8. My favorite choice is peanut butter. I make a small peanut butter ball and put the pill in it and feed it to the dog. I also use peanut butter if I have to put the pill in my dog’s mouth. I combine a glob of peanut butter and pill and place it in the side of his mouth, hold it closed and keep his muzzle tilted up a bit. Usually, he can’t resist licking the peanut butter but if he doesn’t do anything, I’ll swipe a little bit of peanut butter on his nose. He then licks the peanut butter off his nose and automatically swallows. I save this for extreme cases because I don’t want my dog to dislike peanut butter because he has learned to associate it with something unpleasant.