It can be hard to know how to best give your dog a tablet without it being a huge debacle, even with normally sedate cats and dogs, so here are some tips to help.
Using treats to hide the tablet
Using your pet’s food or treats, or even bits of xylitol-free peanut butter or cream cheese (if your pet’s diet allows this) is one of the most common ways to give your dog a tablet.
However, many cats and dogs catch on to such clandestine operations and will eat around pills or spit them back out. This is when it’s time to get inventive.
You could try the ‘three-treat’ – offer your pets three treats in a row, with a tablet hidden in the middle treat. Any suspicions they have should vanish after the first treat, and the third should help to hide the taste of the second, throwing any suspicions.
A good trick can be to give the treats when your pet is otherwise distracted – such as while taking your dog for a walk.
Crush your dog’s tablet in food
Another method to give your dog a tablet with food is to crush it up and mix with a small amount of wet feed. Ensure all the food is consumed therefore all the medication has been taken.
This method may not work with strong-tasting medicines. Try this with more pungent foods.
This method of pill-dispensing involves opening the cat or dog’s mouth by hand, popping the pill down the hatch, and then holding the mouth closed until (hopefully) the pill has been swallowed.
If you can, check that the pill is gone from the mouth before letting your pet go, as it’s not uncommon for ‘swallowed’ pills to be ejected on the floor at the first opportunity!
This particular method might not work very well with a feisty or fearful pet, so you’ll need to be firm and watch out for claws.
For scratchy cats and small dogs, try swaddling the pet in a towel to keep paws out of the way. If all else fails, talk to your vet.
There may be brands you could try that have a better or less distinctive taste, or they may be able to recommend another method or an apparatus, like a pill gun.
Pets tend to get used to receiving pills over time, so don’t give up!
Tips for Success!
• Act naturally – cats and dogs are very good at reading their human’s body language and can become tense if you start acting oddly. Stay relaxed when you give your dog a tablet and use a soothing, but firm, tone of voice.
• Butter up – try coating the pill in butter or another slippery substance, as this will aid swallowing. This can be especially useful in direct-to-mouth pilling.
• A little bribery – dogs learn best through positive associations, so smothering your pet with love, offering treats, or taking your dog out for a walk immediately after they have allowed you to give them a tablet.
Remember anything we reward in a dog, is more likely to occur, so make it a good positive experience as best you can and really reinforce their compliance.
Treats are always a good way to say thanks or well done, as long as we are treating responsibly.
To find out more about the Vitapet treat range and other ways treats can help with your dog’s training and behaviour, visit their website.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.