How to give your dog a pill: dharma in action


Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time caring for my 15 year old dog, Pema. Her kidneys are failing, and she has a mass on her liver. She needs daily subcutaneous fluid injections, seven pills plus a powder. But, despite all of this, she’s improving and her overall quality of life is good. Caring for her is such a blessing, I know I’m simply repaying her kindness. In caring for her, I am caring for all sentient beings who have been my mother.

In the spirit of Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s “Everyday Dharma” advice, here are some thoughts that might be helpful.

  • When crushing or cutting pills, think “May all the obstacles to your recovery be obliterated”. Say mantras.
  • When injecting the fluids, think “May this pure water give you the strength to continue your purification”. Say mantras and play recordings of the Medicine Buddha pujas and mantras.
  • When cooking meat for her, think “May the sacrifice of this animal’s life not be wasted, may you become a Buddha swiftly for the benefit of all”. Bless the food with “Om Ah Hum” , or the more extensive offering prayers.
  • When walking her every few hours even in the middle of the night, think “Our time together is running out, every moment is so precious”. Whisper prayers in her ear.

I came across several helpful articles on the web about how to give your dog a pill ranging from disguising the pill in food, to opening the dogs mouth and popping the pills in, to grinding the pill and squirting it in the dog’s mouth mixed with water via a syringe. By far, the least stressful way is by disguising the pill in the dog’s food. It’s safer to give the dog the pill hidden in a small amount of food so you’re sure she ate it instead of mixing it in with the entire meal which she might not finish. As you’ve probably noticed, when your dog is very ill, her appetite fails.

Foods with a very strong smell are the most effective because the dog can not detect the pill. Depending on what your vet suggests, you might be able to crush the pill. For mixers, try a very small amount of:

For crushed pills
Seafood-based cat food (guaranteed to work!), I usually crush the pills and sprinkle the powder in the food
Sardines

For small pills (or pills cut in half)
Sausage
Special sausages for dogs available at pet stores
Soft dog treats or vitamins for dogs
Hot dog
Mini corn dog
Liverwurst
Peanut butter
Cream cheese

These options are less expensive than the special pill pockets for dogs made by Greenies.

Small amounts of cottage cheese, probiotic yogurt and canned pumpkin (not the pie filler) can help prevent or soothe an upset stomach that might develop when introducing new foods for pill-taking.

I hope this is helpful and that your pet recovers quickly if he/she is ill.

Please feel free to share your ideas.

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