Part of owning rabbit dogs is dealing with the occasional need to medicate them. From time to time, dogs have health issues that arise and require meds to sort them out. When this happens, we as rabbit dog owners need to be prepared to tackle the often unpleasant task of pilling dogs. Though pilling is a part of life, it is not a part dogs particularly enjoy. When they know it is coming, dogs will often run and hide, but once you have them ready to give that pill, they could still be uncooperative.
Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones who have dogs that will eat anything right up to and including their own medications without objection. More likely, however, is having a dog that can smell a pill a mile away and goes immediately into evasion mode. Despite the evolution of tricks to hide pills, some dogs are simply the masters of seeing it coming and picking it out to spit it out. In order to avoid pilling mishaps, here are some tips to try:
Dogs that are good eaters and ravenously consume every meal can sometimes have their medications added to their food without problem. If a dog has a healthy appetite for the food bowl, this is a trick to try, but it will not work with dogs who have lost their appetite or those that are not allowed to eat for a period of time per doctor's orders.
Another option for dogs that are not on a restricted diet is disguising the pill in something else. Depending on how crafty your dog is, you may be able to get away with a piece of ham, but that is not enough to fool everyone. Sometimes you may need to step up to peanut butter which is of a consistency that is tough to spit out. There are also some commercial pill pocket treats on the market that could be worth a try. If you have a dog that enjoys catching treats, tossing the pill/treat combo could garner enough excitement to ensure a swallow.
However, some dogs are not going to fall for any of these tricks and will require pilling by hand. In order to do this, you will have to open your dog's mouth with the pill already in hand ready to go. Once his or her mouth is open, place the pill to the side of the dog's tongue as far to the rear of the mouth as you can. Pull your hand free quickly and close the dog's mouth, holding it closed with the snout aimed towards the ceiling. While you do this, run your fingers along his or her through to stimulate swallowing.
Though this method is typically pretty effective, there are still some dogs that can spit a pill out faster than you can withdraw your hand. Dogs may also learn to hold the pill for a couple of minutes then spit it out once you are no longer watching, so be sure to keep an eye out for such an action.
Another option is to pill in the same manner as discussed above, but to add a little something different at the end. Instead of holding the dog's mouth closed and trying to rub the throat to stimulate swallowing, you can give a little blow in his nostrils instead. This creates a reaction that is a combination of swallowing and licking that sends the pill down the hatch. A video demonstrating this can be found below.
Over time, rabbit dogs that are pilled frequently may begin to resist the process. Because of this, it is important to make it as pleasant as possible. Always reward with treats and praise after the job is done so that future pilling will be associated with something positive rather than a source of dread. With a little luck, your rabbit dogs will need little if any medicating over their lives, but should the need arise, you'll be ready to tackle the task.
What is your preferred method of pilling dogs? What treats or food items have you found useful during the process? Let us know in the comments!