How to Get Your Companion Pet to Take Medication

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How to Get Your Companion Pet to Take Medication

Was your first reaction, “That’s easy. Peanut butter.”? Peanut butter is definitely one method to get your companion pet to take medication. Problem is that peanut butter is highly allergenic and a dog or cat might become intolerant of (sensitive to) it. Another reason is a person in your household might actually have a peanut allergy (hypersensitivity) and exposure may cause a serious reaction. If none of these are issues, the one reason we all can agree on is that your companion may pet catch on to your “scheme” and won’t take the medication at all.

So, we put the question to our Facebook followers for their tips. Wow! They had great ideas!

Before we give away their suggestions, we want to keep in mind a few medical items before you try any.

Thyroid Medication

  • Without foods or treats containing calcium or soy
  • If calcium is not listed on the back panel of the treat, please refer to the manufacturer’s website
  • Twice per day
  • 1 hour before OR 3 hours after feeding

Food Sensitivities and Intolerances

If your companion pet is sensitive to any foods, they should be avoided at all costs – even in small amounts.

More than likely, your dog or cat may be on medication because his immune system is already compromised. Another possibility is that while the medication is helping one aspect of the immune system, it could be compromising another that usually bounces back after the course of medication is completed.

When you top it off with an offending food, the treat given to administer the meds may be continually compromising the immune system, exacerbating the problem you want to cure, or causing a new problem to cure the current battle.

One method – to figure out food sensitivities or intolerances – is to test your dog or cat with NutriScan. NutriScan tests 24 foods including beef, cow’s milk, chicken, fish, peanut butter and many of the other popular foods mentioned below.

Listen to Your Veterinarian

We know it can get hectic in the veterinary clinic with all of the other pets around. Please listen to your vet and find out what to avoid, if necessary, or if a medication has to be given with food. For instance, fluconazole, an anti-fungal medication should be given with food.

Tips & Tricks from Readers

We have six categories covered: Popular Food Vehicles, Rapid Fire, Straight Shooters, Gourmet, Epilepsy and Megaesophagus.

Popular Food Vehicles (provided the animal tolerates these foods)

  • Almond butter
  • Any kind of cheese from goat’s milk to Havarti, American, Stilton, or Mozzarella sticks
  • Banana
  • Braunswager
  • Coconut oil
  • Cream cheese
  • Green lipped mussels
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Honey (not for the very young)
  • Hot dog
  • Liver paste, sausage or wurst
  • Lunch meat without nitrites
  • Meatballs – made out of real ground beef or turkey, canned food, raw food or baby food
  • Paté
  • Pitted dates
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberries
  • Raw goat’s milk
  • Tripe
  • Turkey or chicken gizzard – you put the pill inside the gizzard
  • Turkey or chicken heart – you put the pill inside the heart
  • Wet cat food
  • With the food – works best with raw food

Rapid Fire

Jenny D. The 3Treat Method: 1st treat is a plain treat to gain trust (my dogs are skeptical and will spit anything to see if I’m trying to poison them. The 2nd treat has the pill. The 3rd treat is a quick chaser to make them swallow #2 before noticing the pill. Once #3 is shown, they usually swallow #2 very quickly, without investigation. String cheese is my favorite pill treat.

Jen L. Make a little meatball out of a thawed raw patty of her food. Use same delivery as Jenny D. give a little tiny pure nibble so she knows it’s pure, then the pill laced meatball, and then another pure meat bite chaser😆 The things we do for love!

Cyndy L. I had a Corgi who was impossible to give pills to. I would make 3 meat balls and juggle them. The pills were in one of them. I would toss one at a time and she would swallow without checking.

Toni D. Liver paste. Giving 3 treats with the meds hidden in the second treat works too – 1st treat just a treat, 2nd treat with meds with 3rd treat shown immediately so dog swallows quickly to get at that last treat – timing is the trick.

Charlotte K. Definitely needed at least 3 for my Canaan Dog. I have been known to halve or quarter the pill and use 6 or 12 treats. She was wily!

Brody P. We found goat cheese logs at the grocery store. All we have to say is “treatos”. We give all four “pills”. Two get actual pills balled up in the goat cheese, and two get faux pills, meaning just the treat. We keep it high energy and special. Everyone gets a taste, and then we kind of slip the real ones in, and off we go. We can get five capsules in one goat cheese ball. We do it every day so it is fun, not pill time. That way, extra pill times seem like extra treats.

Mary-Rose Z. I give my dog many supplements with her meals so I have two surefire ways:

First is the frozen, organic, chicken-apple sausages from Applegate Farms. They’re already fully cooked, so I defrost a little (I wouldn’t put the supplement inside a warm sausage to take away from its effectiveness). Then I drill a hole in the middle with a shish kebab skewer. I can fit two “suckers” in there.😉

Fortunately, I live around the corner from an Italian deli who makes their own fresh mozzarella daily. My second trick is that I surround each supplement inside a little mozzarella ball, and ‘pop goes the weasel’.🙂

Most important piece of advice is that you have to immediately follow with a chaser. They’ll be too busy trying to get the second piece, so they won’t notice what’s inside the first one!! If you do one at a time then forget about it, because then they will take their time to savor the flavor and chew. When a second one follows immediately, they swallow it whole.

Therefore, you have to take a minute to have them all prepared before you start.

Works like a charm.👍

Lisa C. We do something similar to Mary-Rose. Basically, multiple small very yummy treats, fed rapid-fire. The one with the meds is somewhere in the middle and the dog is so busy sucking them down and swallowing so they can grab the next, that they never bite down enough to find the meds.

Willemijn K-G. Regardless of what I use to put the treat in, I have 3 pieces and give them one after the other quickly. The middle one would have the pill in it.

Kim C. Quality canned dog food, put in fridge to make it a bit more firm, roll into little balls and stick pill inside. Liverwurst works well too.

Whatever food I use I will make two of. Give the first with the pill in it, immediately give the dog the second, without any pill in it. Usually the dog is so excited to have another treat coming his way that he gulps the first piece (with the pill in it) down without noticing the pill.😊

Gourmet

Lisa H. Tiny pills are slipped into a halved freeze-dried chicken heart. Larger capsules with herbs are rolled into a tiny meat ball, preferably raw, then rolled in a mixture of freeze-dried organ meat (various and always changing proteins) and organic Parmesan cheese dust (ground in a food processor). The dust is made in advance and stored in the fridge. These are offered on a flat plate before offering the main meal.

Phyllis B. I make 1 oz hamburger patties and flatten them out to a 2-3″ circle; my guy gets 12 pills – 6 in each patty. I put them in there, fold it over in half and he gulps it down — then on to the next one. It is part of his meal – both patties — so I keep 2 oz of raw separated from his meal. He gets these right after he eats his raw meals (breakfast and dinner) — and he knows he gets 2 patties — he waits — LOL!

Angela Marie I make a slurry with the meds and add that to baby food chicken or beef. Hercules had his leg amputated and was on so many meds!! I had so many alarms set, because he was getting meds around the clock 4 times a day! I’m so glad we’re past that challenge!

Wanda C. Green lipped mussels, raspberries are great natural pill pockets! We’re lucky that my dog would eat anything coated with coconut oil. 😋

Tammy T. Butter. Mold solid butter around pills, open dog’s mouth, insert butter, close mouth and hold softly shut while tipping the head up. As the butter warms in their mouth and starts to melt, they automatically swallow 😉. Has worked well for my Great Danes and Mastiffs.

Lynn P. Some coconut oil & pour into an ice cube container, drop one tablet into each cube and keep in the fridge.

Joanne K. The kennel where I work, my boss takes boiled chicken and shreds it. Then he covers it with cheese and microwaves it. He kneads it together. He continues to add cheese and microwave it until it becomes blended and like a putty. We use it to give pills and have not had a dog spit it out yet. They love it.

Bev McC. Raw chicken hearts lightly sautéed in olive oil We call them nature’s pill pockets because most pills/capsules can be tucked into the meat super easily.

Straight Shooters

Karen E. I just open their mouth, drop it down the back of his throat and then pet his throat. Then he gets a treat. Easy peasy!

Michelle S. I do like Karen here. Open their mouth, drop it down the back of throat, gently hold muzzle shut and stroke the throat. I always have a treat ready. Then they just get one and swallow the med because they so want the treat! Always works. Few times when they may have spat it out the side of mouth, we just repeat the process until it is gone, then they get the treat. Only receive the treat once med is swallowed and gone, so they get the idea and get rewarded.

Diane L T. I just drop it on the floor and pretend I’m going to grab it and they beat me to it. 😂

Natasha V. I pretend to eat it myself 😂 then when I give it to Roxy instead, she scarfs it down with zero hesitation!

Sue H. I’m lucky. Just put it on the floor in front of her and say ‘take it’. And she does.

Ena K. Trust and a good relationship! My dog takes his pills from my open palm and eats them. He decided this is the best way soon after I adopted him and has taken different pills this way. He does get a treat afterwards, but I think it has more to do with our connection and his freedom of choice than with the reward.

Kate W. I do the same with both of my dogs (labby-sized mix-breeds- rescues). Back of throat, a little organic coconut oil on the pill to help it slide down easier, pet down the throat while murmuring to them ‘what a good dog you are’, then a bit of the CO to lick off my fingers after it’s swallowed. The funny thing is if I put it in their food? They’ll eat around it or spit it to the side, lol. Dogs sure aren’t dumb, grin!

Nancy S. Same with my Samoyeds. I train them to accept it when they are young. They are way too smart for “disguised” treats.

Helen S. I don’t hide pills. I taught pill-taking as a reinforced behavior: eat this yucky thing then you get a nice thing to eat as a reward.

Sharon P. Just drop down the hatch and rub/pat throat = easy most of the time!

Sherrie K. Re: Karen I wish it were that easy to pill my 13 pound Bichon! She clamps her mouth shut so hard the jaws of life couldn’t pry it open! 😂🤣 So far, the coconut/nut mixture is the only thing that works for her.

Julia C. I pill them. It might be invasive but if you’re good, its quick and I don’t find it later which has happened too many times.

Epilepsy

Mary Beth B. I had an epileptic dog who needed thyroid meds, phenobarbital, milk thistle twice daily. I used chunks of bananas. I put the meds in the longways in the banana chunk and they all went down in one gulp. No chewing, no spitting out pills. She thought she was getting treats. My other dogs thought she was getting treats too. So everyone got a piece of banana twice a day. Cheap and healthy. Worked great for the 7 years I had her after the seizures started. Such a relief not to have to shove pills down her throat twice a day.

Tracy P. My dog takes her epilepsy drugs in banana. My other dog won’t touch banana and has his pill in boiled chicken or a tiny piece of cheese.

Megaesophagus

Josh H. For my Frenchie with megaesophagus it was a challenge, I had the best success pushing it down his throat then flushing it down with a syringe full of his liquid food.

References

Dodds, Jean. “Properly Administering Thyroid Medication to Your Dog”. Hemopet, 18 Sept. 2013, https://www.hemopet.org/thyroid-medication-dog-hypothyroid/.

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