From time to time our dogs have to take medication, whether it is their monthly heartworm pill, a dewormer, or an antibiotic because they are ill. Some dogs are great at taking medication and some are just demons. How do you get your dog used to taking medication when you need to give it to them? One of the determining factors is whether or not it can be taken with food; some medications need to be given without food so they are absorbed into the dog’s system faster. If this is the case, are you giving a pill or a liquid?
If you are giving your dog a pill, find a convenient room to administer it in. I use the kitchen, because this is where my dog gets fed and she associates the room with food and goodies. Get the pill out of the bottle before you call your dog. This way, you are prepared and won’t be trying to fumble with a lid that is hard to open or a dog who may not want to get a pill. Call your dog into the room using an unconcerned, cheerful voice and put your dog on a sit/stay facing you.
Hold the pill between two fingers of one hand; grasp their upper jaw with the other hand using your thumb on one side and the rest of your fingers on the other. Gently squeeze their upper jaw behind their canine teeth while raising their head. With one of the free fingers of your “pill” hand (between their lower canines) pull their lower jaw down and place the pill in the dip of the tongue at the back of their mouth. Hold their mouth closed as you lower their head and begin stroking their lower jaw (front to back) while speaking in a soothing tone.
If you are dispensing a liquid medicine, measure it out in a liquid syringe and slip the syringe behind your dog’s last set of molars and into their mouth near their throat. Again, rubbing your dog’s throat front to back will help them swallow the medication. Whichever medication you are giving, make sure they have actually swallowed it and not spit it out. And be sure to praise your dog and give them a treat; they will remember this and be more willing to take their medicine the next time.
If you have a small dog you can pick them up and set them on a table, since they are less apt to move if they are at a disadvantage. If you have a larger dog that is a wiggler or not as amenable to getting a pill, you can put them on a sit/stay with their back to the corner of the room. This way, you’ll be able to block their exit from the room.
If the medication can be given with food it’s a fairly simple process. If you are giving a pill, pick something your dog loves to eat. I use cream cheese or a piece of cheese, but have also used CANIDAE canned food, peanut butter, liver sausage and hot dogs. The size of the pill determines how much you use to camouflage it with (I use about a quarter of a teaspoon). Wrap the pill in the food and offer it to your dog, making sure not to mask the pill too much or too little. Too much camouflage and your dog may find the pill and spit it out, too little and they’ll be able to taste the pill and spit it out.
Skye is a special needs dog and has been on medication since she was about a year old, both pills and liquid. The liquid medication is very salty and Skye didn’t like taking it, so the breeder would squirt it on a piece of bread and give it to her that way. While it was an efficient way to get the medication into Skye, she would shake her head from side to side after eating the bread to get rid of the taste of the medication. Skye now gets liquid medicine twice a day with her CANIDAE canned food. I put Skye’s food in her dish first, squirt the medicine on top and mix it with the food. I set it down, and Skye makes it disappear.
By using a cheerful, unconcerned voice, praise and treats, anyone can get their pet to take their medicine. To paraphrase Mary Poppins “a spoonful of CANIDAE makes the medicine go down.”
Read more articles by Ruthie Bently
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