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My (8 month old) puppy is currently on antibiotics (amoxicillin), specifically 250mg Noroclav twice daily. I've tried:

  • putting it in her food (she just eats around it);

  • crushing it into powder and sprinkling it over her food (she refuses to eat altogether); and

  • popping it in her mouth and holding her muzzle until she swallows (she always manages to keep it from going down and then spits it out once released).

Having had to take amoxicillin in the past myself, I recall that it made even some of my most favourite food taste absolutely vile: so it's hardly any wonder that she's not keen.

How can I get her to take her medication?

  • I usually just push it down their throat, even with my cats. They know I'm not doing any harm(although they might be like "wth why are your fingers going down my thro-asdarrefsdef") It's the only way I can be sure they actually took their pills. I reward them with a treat after the pill has been swallowed – Just Do It Dec 10 '15 at 23:16
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Here are few ways you can get your dog to take pills. We started with the first method and one day tried the second and have been using it ever since. Both are a lot more fun and potentially faster than forcing your dog to take a pill.

Envelope Method

Assuming your dog isn't allergic to peanut butter, most dogs find this to be a super tasty treat. If you put a bunch of peanut butter around the pill, the dog will often eat both the peanut butter and pill without even realizing it. Then you let them lick your fingers for extra reinforcement!

They also make special "pill pocket" treats you can get if you want something different and are made specifically to hold pills, but peanut butter is cheaper.

Make sure they do actually eat the pill though. Even though it's harder to eat just the peanut butter than just food, some dogs are able to manage it.

Chasing Method

This method uses a dog's natural prey drive and patterning skills to get them to be excited about eating a pill. Get a bunch of treats about the same size as the pill and toss them along the floor giving your dog her release cue or "get it" command. After she's done this a few times, toss the pill and tell her to get it. By the time she realizes it wasn't actually another treat, she may have already swallowed it. Keep playing the game afterwards so she doesn't think the game ends when a non-treat appears.

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    our previous dog required twice-daily medication which he did not enjoy the taste of. In similar vein to the peanut butter trick, we would buy those super cheap hotdogs available at the supermarket (in the US at least) for 99 cents. Each frank can be cut into multiple half-inch long pieces, and then just press the pill into the exposed cut surface of the frank. For a puppy I might recommend smaller pieces. – PeterL May 5 '14 at 18:28
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Dogs are notable for spitting up pills. To pill her, take your hand and circle the top of her snout, and press at the gum line behind the large canine teeth. This will cause her to open her jaws. Put the pill at the back of her tongue, using your other hand, after the peak of the curve. Close her jaws and gently massage her throat to encourage swallowing. Give her a treat to finish the task of getting it down.

(sorry, doing this from my phone, so I can clean it up later if you need)

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TL;DR

The ASPCA gives a reasonable roundup of pilling techniques, but misses a few such as compounded medications and pill guns. I outline a few of these alternatives below.

Compounding

Talk to your vet about compounding. While some medications are only available as pills or capsules, other medications can be provided as a liquid, paste, or suspension that is often mixed with a pet-friendly flavoring. These compounded medications can then be mixed with food or given with an oral syringe.

Pill Splitting or Grinding

Some pills shouldn't be split or ground, such as enteric-coated caplets. However, many pills can be split to make them easier to swallow without chewing. The trick is to get the enveloped pills small enough (including the envelope, such as a Pill Pocket) that the whole thing can be swallowed without chewing, since it's the chewing that is most likely to release the unpleasant taste or texture.

You want to make sure that the envelope is small enough to be easily swallowed, and that it fully covers any rough edges that might catch in the throat or cause irritation on the way down. I occasionally break pills up into 2-3 Pill Pockets to accomplish this with large pills or smaller dogs.

Pill Guns

A pill gun is really just a variation on manual pilling, and can help when a pill must be taken whole. Assuming the pill is small enough to be safely swallowed without chewing, you use the pill gun (rather than your fingers) to place the pill at the back of the throat before stimulating the swallowing reflex.

I personally recommend the soft-tipped pill guns, rather than the hard plastic ones. In addition, avoid cheaply-made pill guns that have rough or sharp plastic edges, as you don't want to scratch or cut the tongue or throat.

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One thing that's worked incredibly well for me is hiding the pills in super-chunky peanut butter.

Our dog loves peanut butter, and since she can't tell the pills apart from the peanuts, she's swallowed her pills every time (and even if she could, it's so sticky it would be hard to spit them out)

Just make sure your dog isn't allergic to peanuts first (is that a thing for dogs?)

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I use cheddar cheese rather than peanut butter. I always give a small piece of cheese first.

For small pills, next I offer a cheese/pill sandwich and follow immediately with a cheese chaser that she knows is coming. The expectation works so she doesn't take time to sort out and reject the pill.

For bigger capsules, after the pre-cheese, I stick the pill at the back of her tongue, while showing her the cheese chaser. Because of the pre-cheese, her mouth is slobbery so the capsule goes right down. In a dry mouth, a capsule can stick on her cheek and be rejected minutes later.

She can hear "cheese pill" much better than the word "stay", but I must admit I'm working with a tolerant, cooperative dog, who is OK with my sticking my fingers in her mouth. It will be handy if you can teach your puppy that this is normal. Ella demands decent cheddar though, and spits out low fat mozzarella.

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I have a rat terrier and a large black lab. For our dogs, we cut a slit in a piece of hot dog and hide the pill inside the hot dog. They get so excited to have people food that they just chew it up and swallow it.

I definitely think the best strategy is to hide the pill in some type of human food, just try some options and see what works best for your dogs.

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