German shepherds are very smart dogs and are easy to train. They are also strong willed and confident. Do to their intellect and excellent sense of smell, there’s not much that gets by them.
Most of the time, these qualities are endearing and makes them very lovable. Yet, there are times when their brainpower can get in the way of what’s best for them. One such case is giving a very stubborn German shepherd medication, especially bitter or strong smelling pills, many pills, pills for a long duration, or when the dog simply refuses to take pills without having to force feed them.
Usually giving medication is a short –term inconvenience that can be worked through with some patience and persistence. However, it can easily become stressful for both dog and owner when the pet simply refuses medication. The trouble begins when the dog is tired of the medicine, it makes them feel bad, or it tastes terrible. Some German shepherds are simply suspicious and will refuse to eat something they don’t deem worthy, no matter what it’s hidden in.
Antibiotics and pain pills are two examples of medication that are commonly needed for illnesses, injuries, or post surgical procedures yet are often bitter and hard to feed. Often when a dog is not feeling well, giving medication can even be more difficult than normal. Sometimes dogs will refuse to open their mouth, spit out, or gag up their medication or will run and hide.
How to teach your dog to take medication:
One tip that can help you give a difficult dog their medicine is to train the dog to take it. It’s fairly easy to train a dog to take their pills but may take some time and patience if you’ve been struggling or forcing your dog to swallow them.
What you’ll need for this training:
- Yummy treat you’ll hide the pills in
- Your dog’s all time favorite, high value treat
- Medication or supplements
Start by giving your dog the treat you plan to hide the pill in. Don’t put the pills inside; just feed the treat to your dog and give a command such as “eat it.” When the dog eats it, give lots of praise and follow with the high value treat. At this point, you’re dog probably is thinking they hit the jackpot.
Practice this until your dog looks for or expects the high value treat after they eat the treat you’re going to eventually hide the pills in. This is very easy to train so it probably won’t take much practice.
After your Einstein of a dog has mastered eating treats for extra delicious treats, it’s time to give them their medication. Hide the pill or pills in the yummy treat and ask your dog to “eat it.” At this point, your dog may gobble it up or may baulk.
If your dog hesitates, show them the other treat but don’t give it until your dog eats their pills. Give lots of praise and encouragement during this time. If the dog still refuses, firmly yet calmly ask them to “eat it” and show them the high value treat in your other hand. After each time they take their pills, give the high value treat chaser with lots of praise.
If they refuse, stay calm and keep trying. Try another treat or try hiding the treat in something new. Try to prevent your stress from passing down to your dog. Start over as many times as you need to.
Some other tips that can help include:
- Only give your dog medication with food, unless otherwise prescribed.
- If the dog has an upset stomach, probiotics, bone broth or a small amount of yogurt can help soothe the stomach.
- Divide meals up to prevent overfeeding.
- Never hide pills in your dog’s food to prevent your dog from getting turned off or suspicious about their meals.
- Never crush pills without permission from your vet.
Some treats to hide pills in:
- Frozen Cool Whip
- Cream Cheese
- Berry Cream Cheese
- Soft Cheese, like Velveeta
- Peanut Butter, crunchy or smooth
- Peanut Butter Sandwich
- Hot Dogs
- Egg Omelet, mini
- Meatballs, beef or turkey
- Liver Sausage
- Pill Pockets
You know your dog best so you’ll have to figure out what their most favorite treat is. Is it small bites of steak, grilled burger, or fragrant roast beef? Whatever it is, cut into small bites to help reduce calories.
Before feeding pills, always read medication labels and be sure you’re dog can take the pill with food or if there is any limitations, and ensure there are no medication interactions. Also be sure you can feed with the treat, such as dairy products.
Good luck teaching your picky pill taker this trick. Go ahead and share this with your family and friends so they can help their dogs take pills with no drama.