How to give pills to the world's most suspicious dogs - Dr. Marty Becker

How to give pills to the world’s most suspicious dogs

Monday, Feb 9th, 2015 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Is your dog the equivalent of a champion bomb sniffing dog when it comes to sniffing out pills hidden in pill pockets, cheese, peanut butter, hot dogs, or other treats?

I have one of those dogs, our 16-pound “canine cocktail” Quixote. Here are some of the tricks this veterinarian has used to outsmart this super-suspicious, super-finicky dog when it comes to time to give him a pill:

1. Sleight of nose. Put a pill into a pill pocket or other wrap, like peanut butter, a piece of hot dog, or soft cheese, with the fingers of one hand, and then close the pill pocket with the fingers of the other hand.  That way there is no  medication smell on the outside of the pill pocket.

2. The pet med version of Three-Card Monte. This is a medication game of deception. Which of the three pill pockets/soft wraps contains the medicine? Start with a pill pocket or treat ball that has no pills inside. This one is called “The Promise.” Down the hatch! The second one contains the meds, and is referred to as “The Deed.” A little more tentatively, but it’s swallowed. Then, as fast as possible, give your dog “The Chaser,” also free of medication. Boom. Gone! And trust restored.

3. Keep ’em guessing. To make the Three-Pill Monte trick even better, occasionally mix up the order of which pill pocket or treat ball contains the pill. Occasionally just give a pill pocket at random times during the day, and occasionally just give one that has the pills, but do so in a different place than where you normally offer them.

And don’t feel bad about “tricking” them — it’s better than the alternatives!