Need a non-allergen, homemade recipe, for canine pill pockets.
August 8, 2014 12:39 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me find, or design, a homemade non-allergen pill pocket for dogs recipe?

I saw this post already and it pretty much is exactly my same problem.

The problem with that thread is that though it was very kind (and well meaning) for so many to answer Griphus' question, they forgot about the allergen parts or they didn't understand canine nutrition very well. Not complaining, just explaining.

Take all the suggestions on peanut butter, which is a seriously high allergen food and isn't for a dog with allergies. Also some recommended oil or margarine, which will only lead to pancreatitis; dogs are more prone to it than humans (I'm a human nurse for 23 years+). Then injections and pharmacies won't work for us. Some of ours are OTC drugs like Benadryl. Putting it in food doesn't work, hence the question for pill pockets. You see the problem here?

So! Our girl is allergic to everything. EVERYTHING!

I found this glorious recipe that is very simple. I made it for our other dogs, but for my allergy dog the problem is again, the peanut butter and the milk. Water will probably do instead of milk, oat flour will be more gentle, but still not great. The biggest problem is finding a safe alternative to the peanut butter; something sticky and chunky. I thought about coconut butter, but I understand it's a bit cathartic, which won't work. Besides, I think it's a bit thinner than peanut butter.

So here is what we need:

* A grain substitute.
* A peanut butter substitute.
* No chicken, beef or pork.
* No oils.
* No eggs.
* No hotdogs, lunchmeats, cheese or other dairy products.
* It will need to be very tasty and we prefer a smelly something, that will cover the scent of medicine a bit. Those pill pockets smell like dead animal. lol!

I simply cannot afford the duck and pea pill pocket formula. It sounds great, but is terribly expensive.

I hope you have a suggestion. I'm sorry it's so complicated. :( Believe me!
posted by magnoliasouth to Pets & Animals (26 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What about salmon and potato?
posted by phunniemee at 12:43 PM on August 8, 2014

Potato was my thought, as well. If you can find potato flakes that are just potato (no dairy), that would be easier and stickier.

Also, are beans a problem? Because dehydrated refried beans are gluey and chunky when not fully rehydrated, and they do have a strong smell.

You could mix either (or both) with meat baby food if necessary.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:46 PM on August 8, 2014

Is soy out of the question? If you freeze and then thaw extra-firm tofu, it takes on a bread-like texture that would be very easy to cut up into chunks and shove a pill into. Might not be smelly enough on its own though.

What about other nut butters, like almond?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:46 PM on August 8, 2014

Ah, sorry, not meat baby food. I was thinking it would add a certain fragrance.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:48 PM on August 8, 2014

I'd like to add, my dog, who is so dumb that he gets stuck walking under tables (here he is stuck in a bra) will not be fooled by pill pockets. He chews them, eats the treats from around them, then goes and spits the pill out on the other side of the house. He does that no matter how well I disguise the pill. If I crush the pill he just will refuse to swallow.

It was a pain in the ass to get him to take pills for the first nearly two years of his life, but then he got a couple injuries and needed antibiotics and we worked out a system.

He gets very tiny pinch of a treat.
I sit on the floor, pin his limbs, forcibly open his mouth, and chuck the pill in there.
I hold his mouth closed while he struggles and blows nose spittle out at me and generally acts like he's dying while I massage his throat.
I sit there for a good two minutes and just wait patiently because the little bastard has figured out how to cheek pills.
Then he gets a full sized treat as a reward.

I'm sure you've tried all sorts of non-pill pocket-requiring solutions at this point, but with time and effort you still might be able to get him to take one without the pocket.
posted by phunniemee at 12:50 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Because dehydrated refried beans are gluey and chunky when not fully rehydrated, and they do have a strong smell.

Seconded. I've tried this brand, and some food suppliers such as GFS (not in your area - some company like that might be in your area) have their own brands as well.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 12:52 PM on August 8, 2014

Was also going to suggest potato. I use instant potato for my dogs when they have upsets. They love it. I get the generic brand of flakes; those don't have all the other stuff like spices and butter and whatever.

What about some kind of alternative cream cheese? Vegan cream cheese? I don't know the ingredients but that might be worth a look if there are no issues with soy or whatever all else is in there.

Baby food of some kind would probably work for the peanut butter substitute since all you need is wet/sticky. And baby food is bound to be available in [ingredient]-free versions of all kinds. Dogs can have lots of fruits & vegetables, so some kind of organic 1-2 ingredient baby food with vegetables or whatever might work for your purposes.

Check with a reliable source but I believe you can use other nut or seed butters for dogs, but not macadamia or walnut. My dogs are okay with peanut butter so I have never looked this up.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 12:52 PM on August 8, 2014

I used straight baby food to give my dog his twice-daily pills...obviously the meat ones won't work for you, but I used to use an occasional jar of sweet potato or peas. I think part of it was just the thrill of people food on a spoon.

Or how about plain yogurt?
posted by Kriesa at 12:53 PM on August 8, 2014

If you feed kibble, can you get a different flavor, soak in water, (or get the canned version) and then use the mush as the substitute?
posted by AllieTessKipp at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Or how about plain yogurt?

No dairy. BUT! There is vegan yogurt, so if there is no soy issue...
posted by AllieTessKipp at 12:55 PM on August 8, 2014

What about something like duck liver? Liverwurst (pork) is so stinky it worked great for my dog who wouldn't take anything else. So I'm wondering if liver from another kind of animal might work.
posted by bluedaisy at 12:59 PM on August 8, 2014

There is also coconut yogurt, if coconut isn't an issue.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:59 PM on August 8, 2014

Mashed potato + canned tuna would substitute for peanut butter and add scent.
posted by erst at 1:14 PM on August 8, 2014

Wow! You guys are fast! Such great ideas.

It also occurred to me that a mashed banana would be a good milk substitute and maybe pureed pumpkin for peanut butter?

@ Lyn Never: Baby food is a great idea, even if not meaty. In fact, thank you so much for coming back and posting several times. You're so sweet!

@ phunniemee: Love the picture! Your dog looks a lot like my daughter's dog Sarah, but yours is just a bit darker. If you scroll down her nerdy stuff there to about halfway, there is Sarah in the kennel, which is just after I dropped a pan and scared the dayligyhts out of her. She's our scaredy pup. My allergy dog is the short haired black one in the last photo, Ginny. The brown ones are my daughter's, the black ones are mine.

You all are angels!
posted by magnoliasouth at 1:16 PM on August 8, 2014

Ok, so this is a little gross, but I will just chew something up (e.g., part of a plain cracker, or some oats) and stick the pill in that and give it to the dog. I've also had good luck sticking pills in a chunk of banana, though that won't work if the pills are big.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 1:31 PM on August 8, 2014

I have no suggestions for the pill pocket, unfortunately, but have you tried using a pill gun? I mention it in case you're like me and didn't realize it was a thing until I had already settled on disguising pills with food.
posted by phatkitten at 2:01 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

It wasn't on your list as an allergen, and I don't know if it still goes under chicken, pork, and beef, but our dog will take ANY pills if they are covered in turkey baby food (Gerber brand ingredients: turkey, corn starch, water). It is so gross, but it does work. There doesn't even need to be much of the baby food relative to the pill, just a tiny bit. That stuff is apparently the most delicious thing on the planet. (Ick.)
posted by lysimache at 2:08 PM on August 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I had this problem and gave up on it completely, I will never again give my dog a pill because I know the glorious secret of compounding pharmacies. I will forever have everything made into a flavoured liquid which can easily be squirted into her angrily-clenched little mouth via oral syringe.

A good compounding pharmacy will know that pets have many allergies and will be able to offer a wide range of flavourings which are smelly to humans but delicious and tasty to dogs. It is also thin enough to suck up into the syringe but gloopy enough not to leak our of their mouths. Added bonus: if there is a pill you cannot have compounded, you can stick that in their mouths before you squirt in the medicine liquid and they will gulp down both together.

Otherwise, my dog (who is also a huge headache wrt multiple allergies) has had no problems with mashed bananas; frozen, they are her favourite hot weather treat.
posted by elizardbits at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cost-wise you might have to shop around to get the best price. I had one pharmacy tell me it would be $300 for a certain prescription, and I was able to find it for $70 elsewhere. I realize that $70 could also be out of your price range, but when you factor in time and money spent trying to craft the perfect palatable hypoallergenic pill pockets, it might even out.
posted by elizardbits at 2:15 PM on August 8, 2014

I don't have a specific idea but.. when our dogs needed to take daily allergy meds (and, later, life-sustaining meds) we struggled with all the various methods usually used. They'd eat around the pill pocket. Drop the pill out of the cheese / hotdog / whatever we tried and eat the rest of the treat! And there was really no way to wrestle multiple pills, several times per day, into her without everyone ending up traumatized in the process.

In the end, we noticed that any food the dogs were conditioned to "just lick", instead of chewing, would allow us to slide a pill into it and they'd "just lick" the pill and the substance and swallow it whole. Anything smooth, basically, that they had experienced before worked! We used pudding - because the dog in question LOVED pudding (and since it was end-of-life stuff, we weren't exactly concerned with her weight or anything else). If you can find something liquidy that works, give it a shot. (Pudding, yogurt, apple sauce.. whatever fits your dog's diet and entices her to "just lick".)
posted by VioletU at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2014

My little dog loved rice cooked with veggie broth. Would it be possible to cook up a sticky little rice ball and tuck the pills inside?
posted by mochapickle at 3:18 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a dog with major allergy issues. We use mashed sweet potatoes, canned pureed plain pumpkin, or pureed tuna fish. There is a lot of moisture in all of these foods, so I've found it helpful to strain out the water (put some paper towels into a mesh strainer, then "drain" the food through it). It's kind of gross, but it works. :) Good luck!
posted by Boogiechild at 3:38 PM on August 8, 2014

Still so many thank yous! I have appreciated every single thing any of you have said. All of it is great advice as well as ideas. How can we ever mark a single one as a 'best answer'? They're all best answers!

@ Blue Jello Elf: You're idea isn't gross at all. They don't care. In fact, they probably like that better. lol!

@ lysimache: TURKEY!!! Why didn't I think of that? As far as we know, turkey is fine for her. That's a great idea. It would also be a great thick sub for peanut butter.

@ elizardbits: Funny! No, I can't really afford the liquids but I sure wish I could. I had to laugh though about the clenched mouth. :)

@ VioletU: I'm so sorry for your loss, or impending loss. I did human hospice too and I totally agree with you that in that stage it simply does not matter. Hugs.

Many of you have mentioned potatoes and potato flakes. I LOVE that idea as a sub for the flour. It made me look to see if I could find a recipe for sweet potato flakes made at home. I don't care about the time, it's the cost that matters more to me. I'm retired, and early at that, so I have a lot of time, but little money. :(

I found this recipe on making your own potato flakes and figured I could use sweet potatoes too!
posted by magnoliasouth at 3:59 PM on August 8, 2014

I have found grinding the pills up in water and then using an oral syringe was 100% faster and easier than any pill pocket. I just give a few normal treats afterward to get the bad taste out of their mouths. It even works on my finicky cat.
posted by zug at 4:17 PM on August 8, 2014

Fruit leather works for us.
posted by judith at 8:03 AM on August 10, 2014

All ideas were great. The grinding in water and using a syringe is good, but that won't work on extended release meds, unfortunately.

In the end, I made a pliable ball that combined pureed cooked turkey, applesauce, parsley and potato flakes.

I combined the first three (maybe 1 or 2 tbs parsley) and then added enough potato flakes to make a doughy ball.

It's not as pliable and doughy as the recipe I mentioned in my original post, it's a bit more grainy and much more wet, but they loved it and didn't care what was wrapped in it.

Tramadol is one of the worst of the drugs. It has an extremely bitter flavor and apparently strong scent for dogs. I've had two dogs that would rather regurgitate everything than take those. One has since passed on but my present border mix is the other one. She's not the one taking it, but she is so sensitive to it that if I just gave it to the dog that is in a pill pocket, she can smell it on the treat I give her at the same time and refuses to eat it.

Last night, she smelled it, but the turkey pocket recipe I used was too great to pass up, apparently. I'm happy about that. I managed to figure out a grain free, allergen free recipe with everyone's sound advice here. Many thanks!
posted by magnoliasouth at 1:07 PM on August 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

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