It’s great to live in a world where dogs can get prescribed the medications they need. But if you’ve ever tried to get your dog to swallow a pill, you know it’s not always easy. They don’t understand why pills are supposed to be swallowed — or the fact that if they aren’t swallowed immediately, they taste really, really bad. Plus, how do you get a dog to swallow something without chewing, as is their instinct? You can stick the pill in a glob of peanut butter; but your dog could lick it off the pill, revealing your deception. You can go out and buy specific pill-pocket treats; but that’s a hassle, and they are often expensive. Instead, check out this hack that’ll make pill-time for your dog quick and easy. The best part? You probably have everything you need in your home already.
The Power of Pill Pockets
Dogs love to eat. Even if they’re not naturally food-motivated, odds are, they get excited for a treat every once in a while. Enter: The powerful pill pocket. Pill pockets are treats with a hole in the middle that conceal the pill, so your dog thinks he’s eating a treat; when in reality, he’s taking his medication. (We think this should become a thing for humans, too.)
Homemade Pill Pocket Treats
Think your dog will respond well to pill pocket treats? Lynne Feifer, creator of website 365 Days of Baking and More, was tired of spending extra money on these special treats after already spending on expensive pet medication. But her dog loved the store-bought pill pockets, so she didn’t want to disappoint him by just hiding the pills in a piece of bread or some other boring food. As a compromise, she invented cheap, easy, healthy pill pocket treats that are loved by her dog — and by her wallet.
These pill pocket treats are made with three simple ingredients: oats, water, and peanut butter. Just make sure the peanut butter doesn’t have xylitol or “birch sugar,” which is a sugar substitute that’s highly toxic to dogs. It’s often found in baked goods, breath mints, nut butters, and supplements, and is used to make sugar-free things sweeter. Once you’ve determined your PB is xylitol-free, follow the instructions for making these homemade pill pocket treats below.
Ingredients (Makes 12 treats):
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon xylitol-free creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons quick oats
- Blend oats until fine.
- Combine ingredients in bowl, mixing until combined.
- Divide dough into 12 small balls, using a toothpick to make a hole big enough for a pill in each one.
- Store in plastic bag,
When it’s time to give your dog his pill, simply squish the pill into one of the pill pockets and give it to him like you would any other treat.
Additional Do’s for Puppy Pill Time
Pill pockets make medication a lot simpler for dogs, but what if Fido’s still putting up a fight? Here are some tips from dog site Chasing Dog Tales to make the routine stress-free for the both of you.
1. Work around his meal schedule.
If he just ate dinner, he might be less enticed by a treat, pill pocket or not. Try giving him a pill when he’s hungry so he’s more eager.
2. Watch your attitude.
Your dog is a master of body language. He can tell when you’re stressed, frustrated, and angry. If he’s picking up an odd vibe for you while you’re trying to nonchalantly give him a treat, he may grow suspicious. Stay calm, positive, and relaxed.
3. Mix it up.
Dogs are sensitive to routines. If your dog gets stressed about evening pill time, try administering it in different locations or at different times of day, if possible. Also, don’t let your dog see you prepping his pill pocket. You want him to think it’s just a regular treat.
4. Make it fun.
Dogs love to play — even more so when treats are involved. Try tossing regular treats for your dog to catch in the air, one at a time, casually slipping the pill pocket treat into the mix. He might not even notice.
Don’ts for Puppy Pill Time
As for what not to do? Don’t force anything. Some people manually open their dogs’ mouth to get them to swallow their pill. This works for some pets; especially for those who are used to it or on strict diets and can’t eat anything outside mealtime. However, if your dog doesn’t respond to this method, it’s crucial that you don’t force it. Trying to open an anxious or stressed dog’s mouth only causes more distress, and may lead to biting. If pill pockets aren’t a good option for your pet, and they don’t respond to other methods, talk to your vet about alternative options.
The Bottom Line
If your dog needs medication, you’re probably already stressed. You hate to see your baby sick. Hopefully these cheap and easy pill pocket treats take some of the hassle out of the situation, so your dog — and you — can feel better, stat.