If you have a pet, somewhere on the Internet you’ve seen the guidelines for giving a cat or a dog a pill. It’s a humorous list, with 15 steps to giving a cat a pill, with each step resulting in greater damage to both surroundings and to the human trying to administer the pill. The dog list is just three steps. One, wrap pill in bacon. Two, throw pill and bacon in the air. Three, the dog catches the pill.
While cats are not quite as difficult as the list implies dogs, generally, are very easy. Sometimes you’ll find one that eats whatever you’ve hidden the pill in, and leaves the pill behind, but most dogs just gulp the treat down and with it the pill.
I’ve been lucky because corgis are such chowhounds that they will inhale anything edible. At least, I’ve been lucky up to now. Rhiannon, for instance, gets a small pill each morning and evening. In the morning, I just drop the pill on top of her food. At night, I offer a small dab of yogurt on a spoon, with the pill sitting on the yogurt. She readily swallows it. If a corgi won’t eat the pill plain, a small amount of either peanut butter or yogurt solves the problem, unless I’m dealing with Gael. Gael enjoys her food and she likes tasty treats, but she doesn’t swallow edibles indiscriminately.
Recently, I’ve been giving her a very small pill made especially to be chewed up. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s supposed to taste like a treat. Griffin used to take the same pill, and he always gobbled it right up. Of course, Griffin would gobble up just about anything. Gael, however, is more cautious. In the morning, I put the pill in her food dish and she eats it right up. The first time I gave her the pill at night, she dropped it on the floor, sniffed it all over and eventually ate it. She must not have cared for it, because the next night, she refused to eat it. I popped it into her mouth and loosely held her jaw shut while she chewed the pill. The third night, she just kept spitting the pill out. I ended up putting a bit of food in her food dish and adding the pill. Served that way, she ate it all up. Once. When I tried the same trick again, she neatly ate all her kibble, spitting the pill onto the floor.
I decided to try some Pill Pockets to see how that worked. Rhiannon could smell them the minute I opened the package, and she couldn’t wait for hers. I put her pill in the Pocket and she gobbled it right down. Or, rather, swallowed it whole. Rhiannon, however, wasn’t the problem. I offered Gael the treat. She took it in her mouth, held it a minute, then walked into the living room and methodically chewed it up.
Okay, so, she didn’t seem thrilled, but at least she ate it. The next night, she ate it more quickly and I felt a bit of hope. The third night, she ate the Pill Pocket quickly … and left the pill on the floor. Fortunately, she doesn’t need these pills long term or I’d be searching for other things to try. I think possibly pieces of hot dog might work. Or not. I know lots of people use cheese, but I think Gael would just eat around the pill.
For your average dog, I think the Pill Pockets are a great way to give the occasional pill. They’re relatively expensive so they might not be the answer to long-term medication, but for a course of antibiotics, they would be a great help. They have Pill Pockets for cats, too, but if the cat is anything like Gael, you’ll have to think of something else. Years ago, I had to give a cat I was boarding some antibiotics. In the beginning, it was easy. Maybe she felt so sick she didn’t care. As she got better, it got progressively harder to give her the pills. I had to wrap her in a towel, gently squeeze the corners of her mouth to get her to open wide, and then drop the pill in, hold her mouth closed, and gently massage her throat until she swallowed. Gael isn’t as hard to pill as a cat but she is a challenge so she keeps life interesting.