There are many online sources offering advice on giving pills to dogs, with lots of suggestions about the best foods for hiding pills. A variety of foods will work well and there's really no perfect choice for every dog. The best food to hide pills is, of course, a food that your dog loves and will eagerly eat.
Sliced deli meat, meatballs and canned dog food are popular choices. Pills and capsules can be hidden inside globs of peanut butter, cream cheese, cottage cheese, soft and creamy processed cheeses, cheese spreads and liverwurst. Soft, moist foods like these can be molded around the pills and make pill giving easier. Pills can also be tucked inside a small piece of hot dog or string cheese.
Some clever dogs, however, quickly realize there's a pill inside their treat, no matter how well you hide it or how tempting the food is. Dogs can become experts at separating pills from any food. They'll swallow the food and spit out the pill. Some pills and capsules really do have a strong, unappetizing smell that's hard to disguise, even when tucked inside the most appetizing food.
The solution to easy pill giving is not simply finding the best treat to disguise a pill and entice a dog to open wide. Whatever food you use... immediately giving a second treat will end the frustration.
As soon as your dog opens up and takes the food with pills inside, hold a second piece or portion without pills, right there, in front of his mouth, but don't release the second treat until the dog swallows. As soon as he does swallow, reward him with the second piece. By having a second piece right there, the dog will quickly swallow what's in his mouth so he can have another treat.
Both of my senior dogs have chronic health issues and need several daily medications, most given twice daily. Schatzie needs 4 tablets, twice daily. Fritz gets 6 tablets each morning and 4 tablets each night. They both run into the kitchen, willing and eager to get their "treats". I don't think Fritz knows or cares what he's swallowing.... he quickly swallows his bologna wrapped pills so he can have another tiny piece of bologna, then gulps that down too. Schatzie is more clever..... cautious... sneaky. She's always been more careful about what she eats, and, after biting into a nasty capsule or two while we were still working on the perfect pill taking method, she's determined that will never happen again. She occasionally makes a feeble attempt to roll those pills aside and swallow the meat without the meds. She'd try harder, except she knows that she must swallow what's in her mouth before she gets her second treat.
I wrap their pills in thinly sliced deli meat. We've tried using several different kinds, but now use only minced bologna. (Depending your your location, this pinkish color luncheon meat may also be referred to as German bologna, plain bologna, or beef bologna... and there are similar turkey bolognas.) I find this less messy and easier to use than spreads or cheeses. I buy it at the deli counter and ask to have it sliced extra thin. Unlike other deli meats, even ultra thin slices wrap around easily and hold the pills without tearing.
Pet supply stores also sell tasty little treats with pouches made especially for hiding pills. Although "Pill Pockets", when used properly, are a good solution, using them to give several meds, several times a day, can be quite expensive.
More pill giving tips......
- Before hiding pills or capsules in food, always ask your Vet if they may be given with food. Although most meds can safely be given in food, there are some that should be taken on an empty stomach. Also, certain antibiotics should not be taken with dairy products.
- Buy light or low fat versions of foods used for giving pills. This is especially important for overweight dogs.
- If your dog is very ill and refuses to eat anything, or if the medication prescribed for your dog must be given without food...
To give a pill without food, tilt the dog's head back and grasp the upper jaw to open the mouth. Place the pill in the dog's mouth as far back as you can get it. Quickly close the dogs mouth, hold the mouth shut, nose pointing up, and rub the throat to encourage swallowing. Make sure he swallows before letting go and, even if you're sure he swallowed, watch closely to make sure the pill itself was actually eaten. Make this a pleasant experience with lots of praise, petting, and hugs afterward. See Giving Oral Medications to a Dog for excellent directions with pictures included. See how to open the dogs mouth and get the pill where it needs to be.
- When the prescribed dose is 1/2 tablet .....
When tablets must be cut in half for the correct dose, always use a tablet cutter to accurately and effortlessly cut tablets in half. Never loose a pill or part of a pill by breaking, crushing or destroying it while trying to cut it in half with a knife . Tablet cutters/pill splitters make it possible to cut any tablet into two equal pieces. These small plastic boxes have a "V" shaped pill holder and a thin, sharp steel blade in a hinged lid. The user simply places the pill in the center of the holder and lowers the lid. As the lid closes, the blade splits the pill exactly in half.
EZY Dose Safety Shield Tablet Cutter
The design of this tablet cutter provides a clean-cut tablet without the danger of cutting fingers. When closed, a super sharp stainless steel blade cuts tablets exactly in half for the correct dose or easier swallowing. It holds even the largest tablet for an even cut. A convenient dispensing tray captures both tablet halves for easy retrieval.