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Reader Gun Dog Tip: How To Get Your Pup To Swallow Pills

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June 05, 2012

Reader Gun Dog Tip: How To Get Your Pup To Swallow Pills

By Chad Love

It's time for another Man's Best Friend training tip knife giveaway and this week's winner addresses something that all of us have to deal with at some point: giving your dog medication. I don’t know about you, but my luck with dogs and pills is mixed. I've had dogs that happily swallow every pill I've ever given them without issue, and then I've had dogs that could eat around a pill hidden in six ounces of chopped sirloin and then spit the pill back in my face.

But if you've got a dog like that, here's a slick little tip from reader Patrick Chapin that might help. Chapin writes...

I'm presently having to medicate my lab on a daily basis. She's a sweet dog and usually very cooperative but getting a pill into her can be tricky in the best of situations. For years I have been using strips of cheese slices to wrap pills in before giving them to her. This usually works very well because most dogs will simply gulp down cheese without chewing it. However, this gal has figured out something is in there that she doesn't like and she sometimes will work it around or hold it in her cheek until I'm not looking and spit out the pill sans the cheese.

The steroids I'm having to giver her now are fairly large pills and they obviously don't taste good, so they are a tough project even with cheese wrapping. However I have just discovered that a second helping does the trick. Keep another small piece of cheese handy and dangled in front of the dog just as the first pill package is dropped in its mouth. The pooch will be instantly focused on getting the second tidbit. The pill-laden piece gets fired right down the gullet in anticipation of gobbling the next piece. Works EVERY time! This trick will be a godsend for administering dosages of those large and VERY smelly antibiotic pills dogs often have to take during the course of their lives.

I gotta say, that's a helluva neat little trick, using our dogs' natural gluttony against them. Intrigued, I tried it out on my notoriously pill-averse old dog. She's not currently taking any meds, so I used a bit of diced onion (which she doesn’t like) as a pill proxy. Worked like a charm. She was so intent on getting that second piece of cheese that she didn't hesitate for a second swallowing the first onion-loaded piece, even though after nine years she's pretty wise to the old balled-up cheese slice trick.

Congratulations, Patrick. I'll be sending you an e-mail soon, and remember, if you've got a favorite training or gundog-related tip (or tips) send them to fsgundogtips@gmail.com for a chance to win a Swedish FireKnife from Mora and Light My Fire.

Comments (23)

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All Comments
from Charrio wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I'll have to try that next time i need to give my Lab pills, thank you

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I use a blowgun, and put a doggie biscuit in it the first time. 2nd time I put in the pills. It only works if I put a cork in the other end....not the blow gun, the dog.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from BigTex wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Put dog in a sit. Hold pill in your teeth. Pry dog's mouth open with both hands. Do your best impression of a WWII bombardier. Close dog's mouth and hold shut. Shake somewhat vigorously.

Voila - one medicated, although slightly perturbed, dog.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rozols wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Chad, as a word of caution, I've heard that onions are toxic to dogs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I just grind up the pills into a powder and mix with a little hamburger.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I just grind up the pills into a powder and mix with a little hamburger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I dunno, Jay. Those antibiotic pills smell SOOO bad I think I'd lose my lunch trying to grind one up. I have to wonder what's in those things. I mean, I have NEVER smelled anything out of the ordinary with human antibiotic pills. Why do they have to make the dog pills so bloody revolting. My dogs can smell them as soon as the jar gets opened, and they head for the living room. Maybe a job for the Limberger variety!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Also, Jay, you should check with the vet before grinding up meds. Some are designed for delayed release and grinding them up might speed up the injestion too much.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mibasshunter wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Yeah, onions can lead to anemia.But that's only if you let your dog eat them regularly or lots at one time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mibasshunter wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Anemia means the red blood cells burst.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from bj264 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

A nice big sppon full of peanut butter. Push the pill down in hte middle and hte dog will eat it right up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Craigb wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

All i have to do is stand by the BBQ put the pill inside any type of food I have handy and because i am next to the grill she will eat it... works every time

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I just toss mine a few chunks of cheese to grease the skids then toss the one with the pill, then one as a "chaser".

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from campns wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I have found at the Pet Store Greenies makes a "Pill Pocket" in two sizes that works well even for large glucosamine pills. They come in bags of 30 for about 6-9 dollars a bag, it's much easier than cheese cause they smell like beef and are soft so you can make them into squares or balls to conceal the medicine. My dog actually watches me put the pill in it and wags his tail because he likes them. Better any day IMO than pulling back bloody stubs from trying to pry my 100lb Dogo Argentino's Mouth apart, he is a bit strong.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Well thought out technique, the dog is so intent on te second treat, it gulps the first treat, dogs can be greedy.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

yep, bj264M, peanut butter is the trick for us. My Lab figured out those Pill Pockets on the first try - ate the Pocket and spit out the pill. I've also had problems with Comfortis, which are also fairly large and stink too. Splitting the pill with my fingers and covering each portion with a good coating of peanut butter does the trick...but sometimes I have had to hold another dab of pb to make him gulp down the 2nd half.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan Langemeier wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Cover it in large amounts of peanut butter, it is harder for the to lick off and spit out with that method, because the peanut butter is so sticky.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Many years ago someone suggested the peanut butter trick and I tried it with very limited success. Seemed dogs often are compelled to work it around in their mouths too much before swallowing. And I have one dog now that just doesn't like the stuff. Plus it is messy to deal with.

A piece of weiner works about as good as anything I have seen, especially for larger dogs. Break off a small chunk and simply stuff the pill in the end. Most dogs will gulp it right down, especially if the whole weiner package is still in sight (greed factor kicks in). WAM's method of giving them a piece or two first to grease the skids is excellent. For smaller dogs the weiner piece doesn't work so well for obvious reasons (the load is too big and they'll chew it). Cheese wrap would work better for them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MidnightBanjo wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Warm hotdog - break a piece off big enough to completely encompass the pill, poke it in the end and watch your fingers!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

My dogs love peanut butter so much they start drooling as soon as they hear me open the jar.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Louzianajones wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Ah, the joys of getting pills down my dogs!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chaslee wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

LOL my wife has this down to a tee. She grabs the dogs muzzle with one hand pinching the lips against the teeth. When the pooch opens its mouth she sticks the pill so far back in the poor beasts mouth he has to swallow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FishinDaddy wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

One of my dogs has to take thyroid medication, and we put the pill in a piece of the Natural Balance dog food roll and mush it around the pill. She’s never not taken it because she loves the roll so much. We’ve used it on other dogs too and none of them have ever refused a pill when we give it to them this way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Charrio wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I'll have to try that next time i need to give my Lab pills, thank you

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I dunno, Jay. Those antibiotic pills smell SOOO bad I think I'd lose my lunch trying to grind one up. I have to wonder what's in those things. I mean, I have NEVER smelled anything out of the ordinary with human antibiotic pills. Why do they have to make the dog pills so bloody revolting. My dogs can smell them as soon as the jar gets opened, and they head for the living room. Maybe a job for the Limberger variety!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Also, Jay, you should check with the vet before grinding up meds. Some are designed for delayed release and grinding them up might speed up the injestion too much.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bj264 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

A nice big sppon full of peanut butter. Push the pill down in hte middle and hte dog will eat it right up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Craigb wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

All i have to do is stand by the BBQ put the pill inside any type of food I have handy and because i am next to the grill she will eat it... works every time

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I just toss mine a few chunks of cheese to grease the skids then toss the one with the pill, then one as a "chaser".

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from campns wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I have found at the Pet Store Greenies makes a "Pill Pocket" in two sizes that works well even for large glucosamine pills. They come in bags of 30 for about 6-9 dollars a bag, it's much easier than cheese cause they smell like beef and are soft so you can make them into squares or balls to conceal the medicine. My dog actually watches me put the pill in it and wags his tail because he likes them. Better any day IMO than pulling back bloody stubs from trying to pry my 100lb Dogo Argentino's Mouth apart, he is a bit strong.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

yep, bj264M, peanut butter is the trick for us. My Lab figured out those Pill Pockets on the first try - ate the Pocket and spit out the pill. I've also had problems with Comfortis, which are also fairly large and stink too. Splitting the pill with my fingers and covering each portion with a good coating of peanut butter does the trick...but sometimes I have had to hold another dab of pb to make him gulp down the 2nd half.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Many years ago someone suggested the peanut butter trick and I tried it with very limited success. Seemed dogs often are compelled to work it around in their mouths too much before swallowing. And I have one dog now that just doesn't like the stuff. Plus it is messy to deal with.

A piece of weiner works about as good as anything I have seen, especially for larger dogs. Break off a small chunk and simply stuff the pill in the end. Most dogs will gulp it right down, especially if the whole weiner package is still in sight (greed factor kicks in). WAM's method of giving them a piece or two first to grease the skids is excellent. For smaller dogs the weiner piece doesn't work so well for obvious reasons (the load is too big and they'll chew it). Cheese wrap would work better for them.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MidnightBanjo wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Warm hotdog - break a piece off big enough to completely encompass the pill, poke it in the end and watch your fingers!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

My dogs love peanut butter so much they start drooling as soon as they hear me open the jar.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rozols wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Chad, as a word of caution, I've heard that onions are toxic to dogs.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I just grind up the pills into a powder and mix with a little hamburger.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mibasshunter wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Yeah, onions can lead to anemia.But that's only if you let your dog eat them regularly or lots at one time.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Mibasshunter wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Anemia means the red blood cells burst.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Well thought out technique, the dog is so intent on te second treat, it gulps the first treat, dogs can be greedy.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ryan Langemeier wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Cover it in large amounts of peanut butter, it is harder for the to lick off and spit out with that method, because the peanut butter is so sticky.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Louzianajones wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Ah, the joys of getting pills down my dogs!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chaslee wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

LOL my wife has this down to a tee. She grabs the dogs muzzle with one hand pinching the lips against the teeth. When the pooch opens its mouth she sticks the pill so far back in the poor beasts mouth he has to swallow.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from FishinDaddy wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

One of my dogs has to take thyroid medication, and we put the pill in a piece of the Natural Balance dog food roll and mush it around the pill. She’s never not taken it because she loves the roll so much. We’ve used it on other dogs too and none of them have ever refused a pill when we give it to them this way.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BigTex wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

Put dog in a sit. Hold pill in your teeth. Pry dog's mouth open with both hands. Do your best impression of a WWII bombardier. Close dog's mouth and hold shut. Shake somewhat vigorously.

Voila - one medicated, although slightly perturbed, dog.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I just grind up the pills into a powder and mix with a little hamburger.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I use a blowgun, and put a doggie biscuit in it the first time. 2nd time I put in the pills. It only works if I put a cork in the other end....not the blow gun, the dog.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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