Dog catching treat

Most pets will have to take medicine at some point in their lives – some of them multiple times per day – and it’s the rare dog or cat who willingly swallows pills on command. Some pets are so good at getting around their daily dose, in fact, that pet owners will find the medication spat out after hiding it in the most delectable pill pockets or bits of people food.

If you dread the daily struggle to get your pet to take their pills, you’ve come to the right place. The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center have a few tricks up our sleeves to help you get your pet to take their medicine, without the stress.

Pill Pockets and Beyond

Pill pockets are a tried-and-true method for hiding pet medication, but the commercial varieties can be expensive, especially if your pet needs to take multiple pills per day. Try some of our ideas for homemade pill pockets, or experiment with hiding your pet’s pill in different types of people food, such as:

  • Peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Coconut oil (tasty and helps to lubricate the pill as it goes down)
  • Stuffed into a bit of fruit (raspberries and bananas work well, but only if your pet likes fruit)
  • Wet pet food (for pets used to only dry kibble, this can be a real treat)
  • Push the pill into a small piece of meat or cheese

The goal here is to identify something your pet can’t refuse (hint: if a puddle of drool is forming underneath your pet as you prepare the treat, you’ve hit the jackpot). And don’t overdo it – adding pill pockets or people food to your pet’s diet will increase their daily caloric intake, which can lead to weight gain.

Fun and Games

For pets that automatically catch and eat whatever you toss at them, turning pill time into a game can work wonders. Simply prepare several small nuggets of soft, tasty food for your pet, and stuff a pill into one of them. Toss them to your dog (or roll them across the floor if that works better), one at a time, and be sure your dog catches and swallows them. The more random this is (not at the same exact time each day) the more exciting and enticing it will seem for your dog. 

On the Down Low

One of the reasons many pets are resistant to taking their pills is because the medication just tastes bad. It tastes so bad, in fact, that even the most delectable slice of bologna won’t cover it up. In this case, you have a couple of options:

  • Ask your veterinarian about using a compound pharmacy to prepare the medication in custom-made, pet-friendly flavors. This isn’t always possible, and will cost more, but for many pet owners it’s worth the extra trouble.
  • Purchase empty gel caps and enclose the tablet inside before giving it to your pet. If you must crush the pill to get it into the tablet, check with your veterinarian first. Crushing certain medications reduces their effectiveness.
  • Pill guns can be effective, but these should be a last resort. Ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the proper use of a pill gun, and end each session with a treat and lots of praise.

If you are still having trouble with getting your pet to take their pills, please don’t hesitate to contact The Pet Experts