How to give pills to your dog

Giving your dog pills is something like giving a cat a bath. It isn’t easy, to say the least.

When I tried to give my dog Roby his pills, it was a major fight. If you’re having a hard time giving your dog pills, read on for several good tips. Trust me, I’ve been there. At 15, my cocker Spanial knew one thing for sure: that he hated taking those yucky pills he needs for his allergies.

Never for a moment has he made the connection between those yucky pills and his inflamed ears and itchy eyes. All he knows is that I want him to eat something that tastes nasty.

Roby will eat nearly anything, literally. Bugs, dead fish, moldy bread, virtually anything that falls on the floor. He has an iron stomach, which seems to be about twice the size of a normal dog’s. But his allergy pills … no, he doesn’t want to eat those, not if he can help it.

Over the years, his allergies have gotten worse, so for the past four or five years I’ve had to give him an antihistamine every day, morning and night, all year long.

For some reason, those antihistamines don’t come in large doses, so I have to get him to eat four or five pills twice a day.

Of course, I asked my veterinarian and some of my friends how they got their dogs to take pills. They gave me lots of ideas — wrap them in cheese, put them in a piece of meat or bread.

Some of these methods would work for awhile, but soon Roby would get wise to the bitter taste in the middle of the tasty morsel, and he developed an incredible knack for spitting the pills out while getting all the good morsels down.

Then I’d be back to the veterinarian’s advice: Grab his snout, with your fingers all the way around the upper snout so that the skin of his “cheeks” would go under his upper teeth, open his mouth wide and put the pill way down the back of his throat, nearly choking him and definitely making him very unhappy with me.

And dontcha love all the dog slobber on your hands, too?

He figured out this method soon too, so that there was no way he was going to come when he saw that look on my face: “Oh, Roby … it’s pill time!”

Eventually, I came up with peanut butter as a possible solution. Yeah, my dogs love peanut butter.

I’d just hide the pills in a teaspoon or so of peanut butter and Roby would lick my fingers clean, and the pills went down without him noticing … well, without him noticing for about three months. It was kind of yucky anyway, glopping the peanut butter all over my fingers and having him lick it off.

Also, of course, if Roby was getting peanut butter, Sammy, my Lhassa-poo mutt, had to have some too.

After awhile, though, they got tired of the sticky peanut-buttery glop. Let’s see: Peanut butter sandwiches! I’d make regular peanut butter sandwiches, except I’d stick the pills in little rows on the bottom slice before I put the other piece of whole wheat bread on top. Then I’d cut the sandwiches in four long, vertical slices, like finger sandwiches.

Meanwhile, Roby and Sammy would watch the whole process, anticipating the moment when the new treats would land in their mouths. I’d break the finger sandwiches up and toss little bites to them (throwing pieces without pills to Sammy).

Well, this method has been good for about three years. But now they’re tired of the bread, and Roby has learned how to take the pills out of the sandwiches. So it’s back to the drawing board. Tuna fish! They LOVE tuna fish.

I put some tuna in a plastic container, and put the pills in Roby’s food, and just covered the pills with a bit of the tuna and tuna oil. Occasionally, I’ll see one pill left over in his bowl, but mostly he eats it all down.

Another method I’ve tried is to warm up a spoonful or so of peanut butter in the microwave and then drizzle it over the food and pills in Roby’s bowl, like icing on a cake. He likes that too. This is easier than the peanut butter sandwiches!

I hope this gives you several ideas about how to give your dog pills. I think anything’s better than trying to force them down her throat, and that usually isn’t necessary.

Good luck!