Do you have trouble giving your dog a pill? Unless it’s one of the chewable, beef-flavored pills, a lot of dogs will separate the tasty food from the pill with Houdini-like skill, swallow the food and eject the pill onto the floor. And, good luck trying to fool your dog a second time, right?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably already tried the common methods of getting your dog to take a pill, like hiding it inside food or one of those nifty pill pockets or crushing the pill and mixing it in with your dog’s food. Heck, maybe you’ve even tried pushing the pill into the back of your dog’s mouth or used a pill shooter device. Some of these methods can be stressful for you and your dog.
Recently I had one of those “Aha” moments when Haley was outwitting me with her pill flicking routine. I realized that I wasn’t working with her nature, so I decided to try something different. I turned the tables on her with a little dog psychology in order to trick her into wanting to take her medicine. Yes, she may be a canine Houdini in the way she spits out those pills, but she’s not the only one that has a few tricks up her sleeve.
A quick note before we jump into the psychology tricks: Food is a great motivator for most dogs so most of these ideas involve food or treats. Check with your vet first to make sure your dog’s medication can be given with food or if there are any dietary restrictions.
10 Ways to Use Psychology When Giving Your Dog a Pill
The two methods that work best with Haley are #9 and #10. I used to give her a cheese-covered pill and then stand back to watch that she swallowed it, or should I say, I waited to see if she would spit it out. Now, I always make sure she has something yummy to eat right after giving the pill so she swallows it quickly in order to get more, whether it’s another treat or the fact that she gets to lick the knife or spoon.
Still No Luck?
If none of these methods work for your dog or your dog isn’t particularly food motivated, giving your dog a pill can be more challenging. Other options include talking to your vet to see if the medication comes in a flavored version or if the drug(s) can be custom made into a flavored compound or liquid. If the medication has a very bitter taste, ask if it can be put inside an empty gelcap to conceal the taste.
Whether it’s psychology or just the basic nature of dogs, I find it a lot easier to work with their nature when trying to accomplish difficult tasks such as giving medication.
Does your dog willingly take pills and medications? What tricks or tips have you discovered to outwit your Houdini hound?