How to give your dog a tablet

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At tails.com, we are all too familiar with the struggle involved in giving our dogs tablets. Whether it’s their routine worming or perhaps a course of medication from the vet for illness, we know that it can be difficult to make sure those tablets are actually taken and not spit out or left behind in the food bowl. It’s amazing how clever our dogs are at knowing when a tablet is in their food and how to avoid it. Some are really adept at avoiding all of our efforts, so we thought we would include a wide range of tips and hopefully you’ll find one that works for you and your dog:

  1. Building Habits:
  • Getting in the habit of opening and closing your dog’s mouth from an early age is a really good idea. Make it a fun reward based training task on a daily basis with heaps of praise and treats for allowing you to examine his mouth.
  • Once your dog is amenable to this, placing a tasty treat on the back of his tongue will really help with those times you need to give a tablet directly by mouth.
  • If your dog is not tolerant of this or showing signs of distress or even aggression with this approach, then we should not attempt to force them.
  1. Disguise
  • The next approach is to disguise the medication in a tasty treat such as meat or a small piece of cheese; we must be careful not to overdo extra foods like this as they can lead to weight gain or digestive upsets.
  • Peanut butter or wet dog food are good options for hiding a pill. Crushing the pill and mixing it well into the food may also help. Some ‘pill pocket’ treats are available which make it very easy to disguise tablets effectively.
  • Adding warm water to dry food or heating the food to mix in a crushed pill can help make it more palatable and tempting.
  • Always give the food laced with the medication when your dog is hungriest, before their main meal. Consult your vet on whether the tablet needs to be given on an empty stomach or whether a small bit of food is ok to disguise it.
  1. Reward
  • You can trick your dog into thinking the treat with medication is actually really desirable by making him work for several unlaced treats before giving the disguised medication, followed quickly by another treat so he doesn’t taste it too much.
  • Ramping up his excitement levels about a reward based training session makes it less likely he will notice one of the treats tastes funny or has a pill in the middle.
  • Doing this in front of another dog is also a good trickery technique, as competition is a great driver to bolt down a tasty treat.
  • Similarly, pretending you have dropped the ‘treat’ as a morsel from your own plate is sometimes an option, although beware this is a last resort and may encourage your dog to beg at the dinner table.
  • Finally, try not to make a big drama or show about preparing his medication in front of him, calling him in a stern voice or approaching him in a way that makes him anticipate something negative is going to happen. Most dogs are amenable to being trained that with each tablet swallowed comes great reward.

If all else fails and your dog trumps your attempts at tableting every time, it may be worth asking your vet if the medication can be given in a different formulation. Good luck.  

One comment

  1. I give my dog tablets 4 times a day. I’ve always wrapped them in wafer thin ham and before giving to him take a bit off the ham and hold in the other hand. He swallows the tablets as he is looking for the second bit that is in front of him! On the occasions when I have run out of ham I’ve stuck it into something like corned beef making sure the tablet is covered. Wrapping up was the key to success as he will swallow that whole. If visible he swallows the treat and spit the tablet out! Having done this for a few years now he only has to hear the tablets rattling for him to appear in the kitchen waiting for his treat!!

    Like

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