A dog is one of the most amazing animals in the world, ever-loyal, affectionate, and a constant companion. However, when it comes to trying to get your service dog to do something he simply does not want to do, like take a pill, well, he can also be very stubborn.
It probably seems a little confusing when a dog won't eat a pill because isn't the whole joke about a dog's taste buds that he's not very picky? I mean a dog will eat his own poop, right? Ewww.
So why is it that your service dog who will happily eat paper, dirt, and other unsavory items won't take his medicine? It isn't because he wants to be difficult, it's just that some doggy pills have a bitter taste. Despite your pup's regularly unassuming palate, this bitter taste is one he just can't stomach.
Even though many companies boost their pills with dog-friendly flavors like chicken, beef, and bacon, your service dog might not be the type who is easily fooled. If you happen to have a dog with a more sophisticated sense of taste, don't worry, there are a few tricks of the trade to help give your dog a pill.
Okay, so if you have to give your pooch a pill, it's non-negotiable. Whether it's monthly heartworm or flea prevention, certain supplements, or other medications, your service dog needs it for a reason. Therefore, simply saying you're just not going to bother isn't a very responsible choice.
Still, you don't want it to be a huge battle of wits every time you try to give your dog a pill.
Instead of stressing out and getting frustrated, try some of these easy tips to help make the pill-giving experience a little more positive for your service dog:
This works great for some dogs, while others simply either eat the pill pocket and spit the pill out or drop the whole thing. It really depends a lot on a combination of your service dog's personality and his taste buds.
Sometimes, your dog has a special food that he simply can't resist, and you can use this food to make your own pill pocket. For example, a lot of dogs absolutely love peanut butter so putting some peanut butter on the pill could do the trick. To hide the pill even more, put some peanut butter on a small piece of bread and wrap it around the pill. You can also wrap the pill in a piece of meat or bacon, mix it in with some mashed up banana, cover it in cream cheese, you get the idea - just choose something you know your service dog loves.
If your service dog gets really excited about a certain treat, you can use the sandwich method. No, you're not making a sandwich, it's about the technique; give your dog a treat, followed by his pill, then immediately give him the second treat. This works best with chewy treats or foods that are easy for your pup to eat quickly.
Sometimes, a pill just might be too big for your service dog to handle. If this is the case, you can use a pill cutter, available at any drugstore, to cut the pill into smaller pieces.
If your pup has sensitive teeth, certain pills might just be too hard for him to chew. Ask your vet if there is a softer alternative or a different way that you can administer the medication. For example, you might be able to crush certain pills into a powder and mix it with peanut butter or put inside empty gelatin capsules, but it is essential to consult with your vet first to make sure the medicine won't lose its potency.
If your service dog loves to lick and eat ice cubes, you can freeze his pill inside of an ice cube for a nice frozen treat.
You can try to hide the pill in your service dog's kibble, but make sure he actually eats. Some dogs are great at gobbling down an entire bowl of food, and all that remains is that one little lonely pill sitting in an otherwise empty dish. It might be easier to give your pup the pill with some canned dog food, especially if he has a tendency to chow down non-stop on wet food.
Sometimes, you might need to employ a combination of some of the above tips in order to get your service dog to take his pill. For example, you may need to cut it into smaller pieces and then wrap the individual pieces in a piece of bread and peanut butter. Regardless of which method you choose, it goes without saying that you should double-check that your pup has finished the pill before moving on to something else.
Even with all of these helpful tips, sometimes your service dog is just too smart for his own good and won't swallow a pill. Most likely, if you're persistent in trying out the different techniques, you will ultimately find one that WILL work, but if not, talk to your vet. She can recommend some alternative medicines that might come in a different form like a liquid or a spray that can be easier to administer to your pup.
Your best bet is to pick a tip, try it out, and see how it goes. You might end up trying several before you find the one that is a winner for your pooch.
Whether you already have a dedicated service dog, are in the process of registering your dog as an emotional support animal or service dog, or you simply have questions then contact us today. When you're not sure how to help your pup, it can be a bitter pill to swallow (pun intended). Our highly-qualified specialists are always here to help you and your service dog with a number of different situations.