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How do I get pills and supplements into my pet?

For some owners, providing medication to their pets is a nightmare no matter how many times we tell them that we’re giving it because we love them, they just don’t listen. Also, some medications taste so bad that even pets that understand how much you love them and want to take it can’t get it down.  Here are some tips on how to get pills and supplements into your beloved furry friends:

GENERAL TIPS:

  • Wash your hands – Many pills have a very strong flavor and when you touch the pill you transfer the bad flavor to the thing you’re wrapping the pill into.

1) Remove the pill from the bottle

2) Set the pill down

3) Wash your hands

4) Get the treat or product you’ll be putting the pill into

5) Use a spoon, tweezers or other utensil to place the treat in the substance OR pick up the treat with one hand and the pill with the other hand

6) If molding the treat around the pill DO NOT USE the hand that touched the pill

  • If you’re using a capsule you can twist the capsule open and pour it into a food or treat that covers the taste rather than trying to force a pill down.
  • If you have a powder that tastes too bad for your pet to eat it you can encapsulate it.
  • DO NOT crush pill medication without reading the product insert first. Some medications are time released. Crushing these increases the time that it takes the body to absorb the substance and may be life threatening.
  • Pheromone Diffusers and Essential Oils – If your pet has generalized anxiety that is aggravated by medication time you can use a Pheromone Diffuser or Essential Oil for calming first. Essential Oils should NOT be used on cats unless they are extremely diluted as their livers cannot metabolize aromatase. Vetiver or Merlin’s Magic by Frogworks are our favorites for dogs.  Dogs generally do not like Lavender at all.  We carry DoTerra which is safe if consumed.  We also carry locally made Daisy Paw Collar Diffusers for regular treatments.
  • Another type of calming supplement is Hemp/Marijuana. Hemp contains CBD and other cannabinoids which notoriously decrease pain, stress, inflammation, anxiety, stomach upset and much more.  At Hero’s we carry Anderson’s CBD by Ambary Gardens in tincture form (very easy to give), Suzie’s CBD Treats in Apple and Pumpkin flavored treats, Hemp Honey – flavored honey with CBD, and  Pet Releaf (in tincture and 4 flavors of treats)
  • Usually when we’re trying to get a supplement or medication into a pet it’s because they are sick. Consider giving your pet Animals Apawthecary Daily Digestion (previous called Ginger/Mint) prior to trying anything else. Calming an upset tummy may be enough to entice them to try anything.
  • Use two treats at once. Give your pet one treat that has a pill inside of it while holding an enticing treat in front of their face.  They are often so interested in getting the second treat in that they swallow the first treat (with the sneaky pill inside) as fast as they can.

TREATS

  • K9 Naturals Lamb Green Tripe– This product is from New Zealand. It is grass fed, humanely raised lamb.  Green Tripe is the digestive lining; therefore it is very stinky and covers up supplements and pills very, very well.  Additionally, digestive lining contains natural digestive enzymes and therefore Green Tripe can assist with digestion and entice picky or sick eaters to eat better.
  • Pill Buddies – Pill Buddies are similar to the Greenies brand of Pill Pockets but with better ingredients. These treats mold around pills like Plato and allow pills to be hidden inside.  These are not appropriate for pets with allergies, though.
  • Freeze Dried Treats – The consistency of freeze dried treats is such that they are often easy to push a pill inside of. In the case of a large pill if you add a couple of drops of water to the treat you may mold the meat around the pill easily. Brands that we recommend that make treats of this consistency are: Steve’s Real Food, Small Batch, Open Farm, Bellyrubs, K9 Natural.
  • Soft Treats – Soft treats are generally not good for pets with allergies but can work really well for others. Rosie’s Natural Treats, K9 Granola Factory Soft Bake’s and Cloud Star Tricky Trainers all work great for small pills

MEATBALLS

  • Answers Nibbles – Answers brand of raw meat is drier than many of the other brands and therefore holds it shape best when pills are pushed into it. Other nibs that might work for you are made by Vital Essentials, OC Raw, Small Batch, Anderson’s Natural, Steve’s Real Food, K9 Natural.
  • Any raw meat or dehydrated raw blend – each of these provides healthy nutrition combined with delicious aroma. Mixing powdered supplements tends to work really well blended into raw or dehydrated blends.
  • QUICK NOTE ON RAW MEAT AND DEHYDRATED MEATBALLS – This is the single most effective method that we are aware of. If you are STILL having an issue with getting your pet to agree with this consider cooking the meat prior to adding the supplement or pill increases the aroma of the meat and further covers the smell of the supplement OR freezing a meatball after adding the supplement or pill decreases the odor of not only the meat but also the supplement or pill
  • Dog4Dog Peanut Butter – Dog4Dog Peanut Butter is available with supplements for Immunity or Skin & Coat. We recommend this brand because they check their peanuts for aflatoxins, mycotoxins and pesticide chemicals prior to packaging it up.  This ensures a quality of peanut butter that doesn’t contribute to health concerns in your pet.
  • Petkind and Tripett cans – These two specific brands of cans contain Tripe, which covers the smell of almost anything, entices picky eaters to eat, and assists in soothing upset tummies. They are also a thick consistency and easy to mold around pills. We recommend only keeping each can open for a max of 4 days, though.  So if you aren’t going through a lot of pills and supplements this probably isn’t your best option.

MEAT-FREE BALLS

  • Answers Goat Milk Cheese Curds Rewards – Cheese curds from grass fed and finished pasture raised goats. Answers Rewards come with three different added supplement options: Tumeric (great anti-inflammatory and liver support), Ginger (excellent for nausea), and Spirulina (powerful “multi-vitamin” that is loaded with awesome nutrition and a ton of vitamin B). The cheese curds come in small cube shapes, perfect for hiding pills inside AND you’ll be giving your pet probiotics and herbal supplementation along with their medicine!
  • Butter from GrassFed Cows, Sheep or Goats – Butter from Grass fed animals provides nutritious Vitamin D, Vitamin K and Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Additionally, it works great for covering up supplements and pills.
  • The Bear and the Rat locally made probiotic frozen yogurt – This is like ice cream for your pet, available in three flavors, Pumpkin, Peanut Butter Bacon, Peanut Butter
  • Raw Goat Milk Yogurt from Marty’s Meals – This thick yogurt is made in Colorado from Grass fed Goats. It’s anti-inflammatory for the gut and highly nutritious.  Most dogs and cats love it, even with supplements in it. It can also be mixed with homemade green smoothie or fresh fruits that your furry friend loves
  • Fresh fruit – whole, fresh berries are great for hiding pills
  • Freeze Dried Fruit – Freeze dried Papaya (found at Hero’s) and other crunchy freeze dried fruits also work great for small pills
  • Canned Pumpkin – Most dogs love canned pumpkin enough to eat anything mixed into it. Hero’s carries Fruitables and Nummy Tum-Tum
  • Fresh Smoothie – Many dogs love fruits and veggies. Blending them together into a smoothie with your powdered supplements (and maybe some Marty’s Meals Raw Goat Milk Yogurt or Coconut Oil as a base to thicken it) makes a nice blend that can be put inside of an emptied Marrow Bone or enticement filled toy such as Soda Pup or Everlasting Treat Ball
  • Coconut Oil – Coconut Oil is anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and all around awesome. Most pets love the taste and the consistency (which under 70 degrees) is thick and easy to blend pills or powders into
  • Raw Goat Milk – Raw Goat Milk by Answers or OC Raw (not Primal) is an excellent and easy way to mix things up. It’s rare that pets won’t eat anything mixed into Raw Goat Milk.  Additionally, Answers makes Cow Milk Kefir, which is thicker, Turkey Kvass, or Fermented Fish Stock.  Fermented Fish Stock has more health benefits than we can count and smells like doggie heaven… mixing supplements directly into your pets food then adding Fermented Fish Stock is almost a surefire way to get your pet to eat their food and their supplements at the same time.
  • Honey – Honey, in generally, is great for flavoring anything. As stated above, our Colorado Hemp Honey not only covers icky tastes but has the added benefit of calming and healthy CBD’s.
  • Cheese – Generally cheese is not at the top of our list but it’s far better than Pill Pockets when it comes to ingredients and it holds its shape well when pills are pushed into it. We recommend a natural, preferably unpasteurized cheese but any cheese is better than treats with GMO wheat, corn, soy and sugars to keep them soft.
  • Raw Marrow Bones – When raw marrow bones are thawed completely the marrow itself get soft enough that pills can be pushed inside the marrow. Obviously you don’t want your pet slowly licking that out or you might waste a whole bone.  Instead, thaw your bone, spoon a chunk of marrow out; put the treat inside the marrow that’s in the spoon, feeding the marrow that you spooned out as a treat.

DOWN THE HATCH – how to put a pill straight down the hatch

QUICK NOTE: sometimes it works to baby talk and soothe your animal with reassurance.  However, if your pet is “freaking out” despite your talk they are probably trying to get you to feel sorry for them.  Try, instead, being verbally firm.  Making a sound like “AHH” or “SHHH” often puts them in the midset of a pack, where the pack leader is saying with a certain growl, “chill out, I got this”… this actually decreases stress dramatically and can alter their behavior for the better immediately.

Small dogs and cats:

  • OPTIONAL – wrap them in a towel tightly, like a swaddle (see Youtube if necessary)
  • Set them on a counter
  • Anchor their butt against your body with your elbow
  • Using the same hand that is attached to your anchoring elbow, lift their nose back towards your armpit, separating their teeth with your fingers
  • Holding the pill in the other hand, quickly push the pill DOWN (not just to) the back of the throat like you’re aiming for their belly
  • Quickly follow up with an enticing treat or peanut butter in their gums

Large Dogs

  • Anchor their body against your body with your elbow OR get help from someone else. If someone else is helping they can hold them with one arm OVER their back with their hand looped under their ribs and the other arm looped UNDER their chin, in front of their chest, and their hand holding their head firmly away from their (and your) face.
  • Using the same hand that is attached to your anchoring elbow, lift their nose back towards your armpit, separating their teeth with your fingers
  • Holding the pill in the other hand, quickly push the pill DOWN (not just to) the back of the throat like you’re aiming for their belly
  • Quickly follow up with an enticing treat or peanut butter in their gums
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