Pill Pocket replacement.
November 1, 2012 5:32 PM   Subscribe

We need an affordable and hypoallergenic Pill Pocket replacement for feeding pills to our dog.

Apple takes two pills a day, every day, forever. We used to get hypoallergenic Pill Pockets for bulk for less-than-retail, and each pocket was good for 2-3 pills, and that was a good value. Now I can't get them at that price and I think a DIY solution might be the way to make this affordable. So, what's a good recipe considering:
  • She's allergic to absolutely everything.
  • It needs to either be made in large batches or be very quickly put together.
  • It needs to be made only of inexpensive ingredients that keep for extended periods of time. So no lunchmeats. (Plus, lunchmeat of the quality I'd be willing to feed her is expensive.)
As far as ingredients goes, she'll eat basically anything. Possibly everything.

(If you know where I can get hypoallergenic Pill Pockets for ~$0.30/large pill pocket, that'd be great.)
posted by griphus to Pets & Animals (35 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What were the hypoallergenic pockets made of (or specifically not made of)?
posted by Lyn Never at 5:41 PM on November 1, 2012

So does she like cream cheese? Or does that set off allergies or intestinal disruptions?
posted by dilettante at 5:41 PM on November 1, 2012

Response by poster:
Roasted Duck and Pea: Rehydrated duck, glycerin, ground peas, natural flavors, pea protein, vegetable oil, sodium bisulfate, water, dried cultured skim milk, xanthan gum, smoke flavor, preserved with mixed tocopherols.
posted by griphus at 5:42 PM on November 1, 2012

Depending on the drug your dog needs to take, have you considered:
1) Compounding pharmacies often do pet meds, in a variety of flavors,
2) Powder/liquid you can measure (or get pre-measured packets) and sprinkle on her food, or
3) You can learn to give SubQ injections very, very easily (and can do so legally).

Personally, I consider the last option almost a no-brainer for drugging my cats, when necessary. "Give him one pill three ti" "Uh, yeah, can you give me a script for that in injectable form? Both of us will bleed less..."
posted by pla at 5:42 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vegetable oil is okay? Hide the pill in a chunk of margarine.
posted by pickypicky at 5:44 PM on November 1, 2012

Since she doesn't seem to be allergic to dairy (pill pockets have skim milk), what about just a little squidge of butter around the pill? Or margarine, I suppose.
posted by rtha at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2012

You can buy cheese cut into little cubes and I've pushed pills down into the center of the cube. I've also used a chunk of hot dog, again pushing the pills down into that (you could get high-quality hot dogs if you wanted to go this route). If she can't have dairy or meat other than her novel protein, I'd try to do something with a chunk of canned pumpkin or maybe a cube of roasted sweet potato, again with the pills pushed down into it.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 5:46 PM on November 1, 2012

When I have to give my dog pills that I can't manage to shove down her throat (although I've gotten pretty good at that), I just put them in her food. If it's a capsule I pop it open, and if it's a pill I crush it first. She eats dry food so I just drizzle a little water over the food first to make sure it sticks.
posted by radioamy at 5:47 PM on November 1, 2012

Response by poster: As far as alternate methods of administrating the medicine go: she loves treats (which means she loves taking her pill,) and she's anxious and skittery so trying to hold her down long enough to administrate a liquid (which we've tried) or injections is a huge production and pain in the ass for us, and probably not great for her.

Also, re: butter or margarine: how do you get it warm enough to stick a pill into without breaking the butter or the pill, and how do you hang onto it when it is that warm?
posted by griphus at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2012

Try administering them in a spoonful of peanut butter, if she's not allergic to it.
posted by Wordwoman at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2012

Just put the pill in a little chunk of cream cheese, if she doesn't have any problems with it. (If I so much as say "Benadryl" for any reason, my dog comes running to look for his cream cheese.)
posted by dilettante at 6:01 PM on November 1, 2012

We used to mold cheese around pills very successfully. Cheddar and American were more dog-popular than mozzarella if I recall.
posted by vegartanipla at 6:02 PM on November 1, 2012

My newfie has food allergies and eats the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Rabbit and Potato Formula, kibble and canned. I give her her daily pills hidden in a blob of the canned food.

Sweet potatoes are often ingredients in hypoallergenic diets. You might try using blobs of canned sweet potatoes, if they're not too wet.

And yeah, if she's not allergic to them, both peanut butter and cream cheese work great.
posted by Boogiechild at 6:02 PM on November 1, 2012

I have used small chunks of Natural Balance Beef food rolls (they look like big salamis, I'm sure you've seen them in your pet store). I tear off a small pinch and mold it around the pill. I use beef because it is sort of the softest one, but they have a duck and potato one that is made for dogs with limited diets. They sell big salamis and also small ones to try, like the size of a fun size candy bar.

One roll should last forever that way. If you make the pinch too big, your dog will chew it more and possibly find the pill. I make mine so the beef is plastered around the pill in a thinner layer.

I have also used peanut butter, dab of cream cheese, soft cheeses and even wet food smushed into a tiny ball.

I also have had a horrible time administering liquids. Mine sneezes violently!
posted by dottiechang at 6:03 PM on November 1, 2012

It is possible to just force them to take a pill. It's not "mean". Ask your vet for a "piller". Or just learn how to do it without one. Try to also force a little water down too. Nothing so stressful they choke (really almost impossible).
There ARE lamb pill pockets (non-allegenic) but they cost a fortune for a long-time condition.
I think that a daily "medicine time" is something most pets can get used to, especially when the caregiver is able to insist in a business-like way.
(Been giving unwilling unwilling patients their PO medicine for years)
posted by bebrave! at 6:06 PM on November 1, 2012

I buy them on Amazon, in packages of 150 (6 bags of 25 pill pockets). They're about $48 right now, which works out to $0.32 each.
posted by barnone at 6:12 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pro tip: if you do use peanut butter or cream cheese, get a container just for the dog and mark it. That way you don't have to deal with washing fingers, or getting fingers back in there if the dog just licks it the first time and you need to reload.
posted by barnone at 6:14 PM on November 1, 2012

Cheese works really well - we used little pieces of string cheese, because that's what we had around. Our dog would refuse pill pockets with an upset belly, but would take pills hidden in cheese (we were trying to give her something to make her belly feel better).
posted by insectosaurus at 6:14 PM on November 1, 2012

Best answer: Or you can buy them here - $83 for 300 pill pockets. About $0.28 each.
posted by barnone at 6:19 PM on November 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

If cheese products aren't a problem, get a jar of Cheese Whiz.

Tip a teaspoon in the jar to get a blob just big enough to slip the pill in, then slide the blob off the spoon with a finger and let the dog lick the whole thing off your finger. For me, pilling twice daily, a single $3-4 dollar jar lasts a month or more. And I swear all my dogs would eat ground glass if I stuffed it in some Cheese Whiz.
posted by peakcomm at 6:22 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

We always used liver sausage.
posted by agregoli at 6:26 PM on November 1, 2012

1stick of string cheese makes 3 or 4 pill dosers around here. The strings searate to make pockets--and aren't sticky like pb or cream cheese.

You don't want a pill to burn by sticking and dissolving at the same time.
posted by nita at 6:31 PM on November 1, 2012

A dob of peanut butter will do the trick. You can get organic ones that are just ground peanuts. Almond butter also works. Keep a jar just for the dog.

Like nita I've used string cheese pockets, I also like to use slices of cheese. The soft ones like Kraft singles (or even better quality ones) work fine. I just cut one into small squares and keep in a sealed container and simply wrap them around the pill.

Sliced chicken breast if you want to avoid lunch meats would work the same. Cook a chicken breast, let it cool down slice it into little squares across the grain and you should be able to insert the tablet in. If it's too firm you could poke a quick hole with a sharp knife or slice it thin and just roll it around the pill.

Also your dog is super cute, just thought I'd mention that.
posted by wwax at 7:14 PM on November 1, 2012

Liverwurst works well. You can keep it in the freezer and just break off bits as you need it.

There is a very good longish thread about this on Chowhound!
posted by cat_link at 7:30 PM on November 1, 2012

The more I think about it, the more I realize it's just way easier to pry the dog's mouth open and shove the pill down. I have a super-duper stubborn Corgi and I just force it. I push the pill down as far as possible so she can't spit it back up. My hands get pretty slobbery but it's quick.
posted by radioamy at 7:54 PM on November 1, 2012

My dog takes pills twice a day forever too. I use chicken thighs. I cook a couple of thighs in the crockpot, so I get all the juice & fat (the fat is important). Then I run the cooked meat and juice/fat in the food processor until it's the consistency of pate. If I have a leftover starch, I'll throw that in too (plain pasta, rice, etc). Refrigerate over night. The fat will solidify and you'll have this chicken "paste" that you can scoop out and mold around a pill. It's easy, all-natural, and 2 thighs last about 10 days (and she gets generous portions- way more than is needed to cover a pill).
posted by dogmom at 8:13 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

My pit bull takes Trifexis every month – an very large, disgusting-smelling pill that can't be concealed in any way. I have him sit down, look up at me, pry his mouth open, and just shove it down his throat as far down as possible, then keep his mouth closed until he swallows. I just gave him pill #7 and it was infinitely easier than the first couple of attempts earlier this year – he's gotten used to it even though it happens so rarely. I'm sure that if it were a daily occurrence rewarded with a tasty treat it would be no problem at all.
posted by halogen at 10:38 PM on November 1, 2012

Apple looks like a puggle!
posted by dottiechang at 10:39 PM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you tried just plain old sticky rice? I don't know if Apple is allergic to rice, but our Sky has had to have meds twice a day for the past couple of days for (what I hope is) a stomach bug, and I didn't want to give her anything that might upset her stomach more (cheese, liver, etc.) so I made some sticky short grain rice and mounded it around the capsule and she swallows it down instantly. I have to be careful to keep it small, though, because if there is enough for her to actually be chewing she sorts it out and spits out the capsule.

Here's a recipe for DIY pill pockets, with flour though, so if that's out, this is no help.

Also, it occurred to me today that chicken hearts would make great natural pill pockets, and Google testifies that I'm not the first to think of it, and a lot of people have success with this.
posted by taz at 1:33 AM on November 2, 2012

This is what they make Velveeta for (unless Apple has a dairy allergy, of course)
posted by Thorzdad at 3:27 AM on November 2, 2012

We use the laughing cow cheese wedges. For smallish pills, we can get several pills out of cut pieces of a wedge. It requires refrigeration but has a long lifetime.
posted by JMOZ at 4:34 AM on November 2, 2012

As some others have suggested, hot dogs are how I've always given my pooch pills. Cut a piece the length of the pill off of the link, push pill in center, give to dog who doesn't even chew, just wolfs the piece down whole.
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:49 AM on November 2, 2012

Our trick is to give TWO treats, one immediately after the other. Put the pill in the first one, show the doggie both, give the pill-filled one and then the second one right after. In our experience, the doggie will quickly swallow the first one in order to gobble the second.
posted by raisingsand at 8:55 AM on November 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not what you asked for however I thought it would be helpful: we open our dog's mouth, place the pill as far back as we can, hold their snout and blow gently on their nose for about 2 seconds. You'll notice that they will swallow the pill without a problem. every. single. time. It's great, no more half-chewed pills that get spit out onto the floor!
posted by KathyK at 10:00 AM on November 5, 2012

Response by poster: Looks like I am taking the easy way out! Thanks!
posted by griphus at 4:26 AM on November 8, 2012

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