Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pager, you're my nemesis

Yeah, I know. She's a precious little thing with skinny legs and a face to die for, and she gives the best little rough kisses imaginable. But sometimes, when I'm trying to get her to take her meds and she's thwarting me at every turn, I am at a loss what to do about this little Pager package.

Pagent/Pager came to me with a bit of kennel cough and a mild staph infection, and two different antibiotics she needs to take for some days still. 

But she was confused by hot dogs, and would only tentatively take a piece in her mouth and then chew it the way most dogs chew lettuce--with tongue flailing about and bits of hot dog flying out the sides. Now she eats them, but still chews them thoroughly and thoughtfully--so that a pill tucked into one is easily discharged out the side of her mouth. 

Most foods you'd think would be exciting get the same treatment. In fact, what's the only food she gets excited about? Dry kibble! And how do you hide a pill in dry kibble?

Especially at first, when she really was barely eating anything, my only recourse was to stick each pill down her throat then stroke her throat to make it go down. But she hated that, and I felt like an absolute monster making her do it. 

Now she's more curious about more foods, but still not the kind of food inhaler that makes administering pills a piece of cake. So, I thought, I'll outsmart the little lunatic. I'll grind up the tablet and empty the powder out of the capsule, and combine the powder with a concoction of heavy cream and tuna fish. What dog could refuse that?

This dog! Apparently creamy tuna is still not exciting, at least when it has a hint of doxycycline and cephalexin. 

So I mixed some dry kibble in, and she finally showed some interest! Though only enough to eat a few bites before wandering away nervously.

Bleep it, I thought, I give up. The damage to her psyche from taking the bloody meds is going to be worse than the damage to her physical form from not taking them. So I went off to write on my computer and stew, though I brought the forsaken bowl with me. 

And then, when I was contentedly checking my email and not worrying about the consequences of Pager not taking her meds--in short, when the air had cleared and there was no social pressure weighing down upon our little hesitant eater--she came over and began to eat. She ate a good amount of her creamy fishy med-soaked dry food before dropping off to sleep. 

The moral of the story is that with a fearful dog, patience and time are often your best allies. And as I have observed with my anxious boy Lamar, pressure to perform can really get in the way of a dog behaving naturally and as both you and the dog would like. 

Tuna fish may be one ticket to success, but a calm, relaxed attitude is even better! 


  1. Pagent is such a sweetie. Our Barney was horrible at taking meds too. He used to chew everything too and spit the pill out. I found cheese whiz or peanut butter worked best. Yes, our dogs do teach us patience. :)

  2. Mr. Picky won't take pills, they have to go in peanut butter or cream cheese. Of course if I stuck them in butter he would eat it. He loves butter.

    It sounds like you've figured it out perfectly. Of course in my house if she didn't eat it right away Delilah would. :-)

  3. Hi Kirsten, my dad "hides" my pills inside Greenie's "pill pockets". They come in different flavors like Beef, Chicken and an allergy duck & pea formula. I like the taste and yes, I know there's a pill in there but that's okay. Check it out here http://www.greenies.com/dogs.aspx#/products/dog-pill-pockets

  4. liverwurst! even the most fearful dogs can't resist!
    and it forms around pills beautifully.

  5. Both of my dogs I have to pill every day. I tried everything and they were a master at avoiding the meds. You also need to be careful with all the tempting tasty treats as they in themself can cause a problem long term. My SOLUTION, was so simple and I encourage you to actually try it. Now I just quicky open their mouth and push the pill to the very back of their throat and hold their head up stroking under the chin until they swallow. They are so used to this now that the pill usually goes down right away no problem. Too easy, especially , when I think of what I used to go through.

  6. They do seem to sense our stress even though they don't understand why we are stressed. Backing away works wonders.

    I encase pills in melting stinky cheese and never have a problem.

  7. If my Lily refuses her pill hidden in raw meat, it's shoved down her throat
    Benny & Lily

  8. I love her little white feet!

    Most often, I just pop the pill down Elka's throat, and then have a party when it's gone, like we were just playing the whole time. Sometimes, I can just hand it to her and it's fine (though I know not all pills are to be chewed), and others I use some peanut butter.

  9. Here is a comment from Liz Slane of the former (wonderful) Inu Baka Blog:
    I'm Liz, used to write on inu-baka and be a more prolific blogger. My mac is now ancient and it seems I'm unable to comment on your blog after a few attempts.

    (One was when you wrote about the potential daycare being built on the lot next door... very funny post)

    I love your attitude, blog, and your comments I read here and there.

    As far as giving pills to your foster cutie, have you tried the 'jackpot method?'

    If you stick a pill in a treat and give a rapid succession of treats with the 'pill treat' in the middle somewhere, dogs usually are too busy swallowing to pay any attention to the hidden pill.
    Any time my girl is on meds I arm myself with a fistful of treats, ask her for a sit, then jackpot away like we were training.

    Sneaky good clean fun!

    Best of luck to you, and thanks for all of your work and writing,

  10. Ah, bless, such a beautiful pup... who, I can read is in such loving hands. Lucky girl.

    Cheese used to work every time here, Mew would sit by the fridge door every morning even when her meds weren't needed. Good stuff, English Cheddar, no rubbish.. good luck with such a lovely pup...
    :-) X X X

  11. I'm able to just use dry kibble; the dogs who need it know they are getting something others are not - I put a small amt of kibble in my hand, the pill on top and they snarf it up w/o knowing there's a pill in that there kibble! 'Course, most are hounds so they snarf almost anything....

  12. Awwww, poor baby! Lady tried all that with my meds, too, but no tuna, as she is vegetarian (can you believe it?). I like milk on my kibble, so sometimes that works well. I take it best when she wraps it in a slice of American cheese. You'll discover her comfort food, and you can use that. Try cheese, though -it works for me.

    1. This crazy human lady is vegetarian too...though I do allow my pups to have meaty products, much as it pains me to think of the industries I'm supporting:( Fortunately, my other dogs loooove peanut butter...and cheese works great too--I have to try that with Pager.

  13. Great post. both dogs and humans do better when we're not under pressure.

    But Pagent is certainly testing your creativity, isn't she?


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