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There’s no perfect way to give dogs medicine — one dog may take pills without question, while another dog hides the instant you pick up the bottle. 

Unfortunately, most dogs lean towards the latter, forcing their owners to get creative, and one of the most well-known tricks is to use a homemade pill pocket — aka, hiding pills in food. However, many go-to foods for hiding pills are unhealthy for dogs and can cause health problems if given to dogs often.  

Secondly, it can be surprisingly difficult to disguise pills in food. Some dogs seem to have a sixth sense in knowing when a pill is inside, refusing to take the bait. Others happily take the treat, chew, then spit out a clean pill. 

For owners whose dogs turn into Gordon Ramsay the instant a pill is involved, the last resort is often having to pry their dog’s jaw open and forcing them to swallow the pill — not a pleasant experience for anyone involved and can be dangerous. 

Before shoving a pill down your dog’s throat, try making a homemade pill pocket with these foods:

Peanut butter, Cottage cheese, Plain chicken, Pumpkin, or (our personal favorite) Portland Pet Food Company meals!

Foods That Are Safe For Giving Pills To Dogs

Peanut butter is a really common choice when it comes to disguising pills, as most dogs go crazy for it. However, be sure that you’re using a brand free of additives or sugar substitutes (such as xylitol), as these can be harmful to your dog’s health. Many find success by putting a scoop of peanut butter on their finger with a pill inside, then spreading it on the roof of their dog’s mouth. Cottage cheese is safe for dogs when given in small quantities, and is often a way to treat upset stomachs. Try spooning some on top of their kibble with a pill hidden inside. A bite of plain, cooked chicken can be the perfect way to hide pills because the majority of dogs are so excited that they barely chew — lessening the chance they'll find a pill inside. Avoid giving your dog chicken lunch meat (or any deli meat), which is full of salt and preservatives. Pumpkin is a great, healthy treat for dogs with sensitive stomachs or for those who struggle with obesity. Scoop some into your dog’s bowl with a pill hidden inside and see if they lick it right up!

Portland Pet Food Company Meal Toppers

Our meal toppers are made with simple, whole foods that will easily disguise the feeling of a pill. Just put a scoop onto their kibble, stick the medicine in, and they won’t know what hit them! For dogs with super sniffers, zap their food in the microwave to bring out the meal’s fragrance, and they won’t smell anything but the delicious flavors. Some of our meals are great for making grain-free pill pockets for dogs!

Bait And Switch Method

Have a particularly suspicious dog? Try giving them several treats (or small bites) before giving them the one with a pill hidden inside — a method called bait and switch.
Here is how you use this method: Shape four bite-sized balls of Rosie’s Beef N’ Rice. Hide your dog’s pill in one of the bites. Call your dog into the room and have them perform tricks for the first two untreated pieces. Next, gave your dog perform a third trick, giving them the bite with a pill hidden inside. Immediately after, give them the fourth ball. Their eagerness to have the fourth treat will distract them from overthinking what's in the third one!

No matter what, never crush your dog’s pills or open a capsule to sprinkle the medication on food without first speaking with your veterinarian. Oftentimes, pills are given a coating or are put into a capsule for a reason, such as to allow for extended release or to hide a bitter taste. Medicine is critical to your dog’s health, whether it be for a diagnosed condition or their monthly flea and tick medication, but it doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience. With a little creativity and patience, you can find a harmless way to give your dog their needed medication!

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