How to give a dog a pill

This would seem to be an obvious procedure: you take the allergy or preventive pill the vet has prescribed and you wrap it in a slice of chicken and feed it to the dog. No: that didn't work: the dog ate the chicken and spat the pill out -- just when you thought it had all gone down! OK, so you try the vet's office's clever gambit: you put the pill in a 'pill pocket' which is specifically shaped like an acorn to accept the pill, and down the hatch it goes. Except that it doesn't, since the pill pocket is a revolting concoction and your dog (quite rightly) won't let such filth pass her lips. (I speak from experience: no come-off-it pill pockets for my girl!)  So what can you do? The medicine has to be ingested but the dog has an uncanny way of eating everything, chomping around the treat and evicting the very item you most want swallowed. Here's what I've learned.

For preference, the food that is the carrier for the pill should be highly flavoured and the pill should be able to hide easily in it: peanut butter and fish paste are two excellent examples. Very often a spoonful of that will be all you need to conceal the existence of a small pill. What if you don't have such butter or paste? I advise making your own 'pill pocket' with a cube of cheese: simply push the tiny pill inside and squeeze one end to make it stay put. This usually works just fine.

But what if the pill is not very tiny, and even a generous chunk of cheese won't hide it? The trick then is to give a piece of food -- say, a smidgen of cheese with the pill stuck in it or a chicken wedge -- and then IMMEDIATELY follow up with another delicious cheese smidge or chicken wedge. The dog will be anxious to get the next morsel and thus won't have time to sort through the pill/cheese or pill/chicken admixture you've given. As long as the next morsel is in front of its nose and ready to go in the mouth, you can be sure that the first bite containing the pill will be swallowed. This is the most painless way of giving oral medicine that I've ever attempted, for all concerned. 

One time I was given a very large pill -- so large that nothing could hide it -- and that was a real challenge to give my dog. It upset her stomach, and the reason it had to be so big was that it contained a lot of preventive-this and preventive-that, which I decided upon further inquiry that my dog really didn't need. It was overkill and it was upsetting everybody -- my dog, her dad, and me. If a vet gives you a pill that you find difficult or impossible to administer, or upsetting to your dog, then don't feel you have to use it. Ask about topical medicines and educate yourself about the health issues involved so that you only give your dog what he or she really needs.