Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jingle all the way.

I take Benadryl for my allergies.

Consort takes Benadryl for his allergies.

The dog takes Benadryl for his allergies.

When it comes to Benadryl, I buy in bulk.

When I took the dog in for an exam, not long after he came home, the vet pointed out his runny eyes and the red skin between his toes. “Allergies,” he declared, and I was unsurprised; his nightly scratching, combined with his tags jingling, had been our lullaby since he arrived. The vet offered several suggestions, the cheapest and easiest of which was Benadryl, every day. Because I am fond of the cheap and the easy, I took him home and promptly popped a pink and white pill into his mouth. I massaged his throat firmly, felt him swallow, and we all went on our way. I felt smug in that “Look at me getting this accomplished” way; the dog appeared stunned, but cheered himself up by having a good long scratch.

An hour later, I found a slightly chewed pink and white pill on the ground. I picked it up, first puzzled and then challenged. Hide your pill in your cheek will you, I thought, tucking it in some peanut butter. We’ll just see about that. The offering of peanut butter was gratefully accepted; the chewy anti-histamine surprise in the middle went down without comment. I didn’t find it later, and the scratching seemed less vigorous. Success!

Twice a day, I would make him his peanut-butter delivery-device; twice a day, he would uncomplainingly take his pill. The fun of watching a dog eat peanut butter twice a day was just an added bonus. What wasn’t an added bonus was any effect on his allergies. After the first day or so, not only did it not seem to be working, he seemed to be scratching more, more actively chewing at his paws. All through the day and night, I would hear his tags jingling, an aural reminder that the problem wasn’t fixed. I mentioned to a friend who bred dogs that I was having this problem. She asked me a few questions, and when I got to the “He certainly likes his peanut butter” part, her hand flew to her mouth in dismay.

“What…?” I said in suspicion.

So, it seems that many dogs are allergic to peanuts. They can also be allergic to wheat, soy and corn, otherwise known as the Three Horsemen of Kibble. I could take him in for expensive tests or, as my friend suggested, just cut everything with peanuts, wheat soy and corn from his diet, continue the Benadryl, and see if the itching stopped. Since I already had him on a raw-meat diet, this wasn’t a huge transition, but I did have to check all of his nibbly-treats I had been using for obedience training for the dreaded fillers. A half-hour later, I had determined that only one of his treats was completely without peanuts, wheat, soy and corn. I had also noticed I wouldn’t be getting that half-hour of spare time back at the end of my life. I bought him filler-free treats, which were gaspingly expensive. Benadryl might have been an easy fix, but it certainly wasn’t a cheap fix anymore.

We were now back to the original problem; the dog has a world-class talent for not taking pills. At first, I tried putting the pill in a bit of meat, only to find that the dog had somehow would remove all the delicious meaty bits with his tongue, leaving a virtually unmarked pill in the food bowl, mocking me. I then tried putting the pill down his throat and holding his jaw shut with one hand while massaging this throat with the other and petting his back. Yes, what I did required three hands; I was so desperate for an itch-free life that I evolved. Fat lot of good it did me or the dog. Later in the day, I’d find a moist and dented pill on the floor, being batted around by the cat. One morning, he came in to wake me up, put his paws on the bed and, next to my focusing eyes, carefully placed a Benadryl. He then sat down on the ground and scratched. I leapt from the bed, grabbing the pill, and grabbed the dog in a headlock. I wedged his mouth open as I sat down on the ground and, wedging his mouth open, crammed in the pill and commenced to throat-rubbing. Consort woke at this point and, blinking, squinted at this domestic vision.

Skipping formalities, I said “You’re going to have to feed the kid her breakfast. I’ll be here making him take a pill for at least another twenty minutes.”

One of the unexpected benefits to communicating in the morning with a night-person is that they are very accepting. All behavior displayed before 10 a.m., be it Reiki for dogs or eating breakfast, strikes them as equally bizarre. Consort stumbled out of bed and weaved toward the kitchen. The dog and I stared at one another. His eyes were gazing at me reproachfully, but at least they seemed less runny.

“Just take the pill, dude,” I said softly to him, fondling his esophagus. After a few minutes, I declared him pilled, and let him up. He trotted off quickly before I could change my mind, a dog with simple needs; to be loved, to be fed expensive food, to scratch deeply and fully, and to find a private place in which to eject the pink and white invader.

33 Comments:

Blogger igibli said...

Could you give him liquid Benadryl? It may not be as inexpensive but it might be easier...

12:11 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I have a cat like that. If you think stuffing that pill down a dogs throat is fun...

12:46 PM  
Anonymous Stefanie said...

Someone told me once that the trick to getting a dog to swallow a pill is to cram it in his mouth, then blow on his nose. When you do that, they (for whatever reason) lick their nose, and when they do *that* they apparently also swallow.

I haven't tried it with a pill, but I did blow on a bunch of dog noses shortly after I heard this trick, and each time it went down exactly as described: blow, lick, swallow. Like magic.

It's worth a shot, if only for a little variety, I suppose.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Leta said...

I have Celiac Disease - an allergy to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and a bunch of other stuff. Reading tiny type of labels and still finding very little that I can eat has become (a very boring) second nature for me. And paying huge amounts of money for them. Welcome to my world....

Possibly the dog isn't allergic to almonds? Almond butter is pretty tasty.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Gwenivere said...

Our vet uses Cheese Whiz of all things. But our puppy loves it.

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazingly, our dog loves pills. She thinks they're treats and wags her tail like CRAZY the second we get out the pill bottle. We have to put it back in her mouth far enough that she can swallow it without chewing it, but it's mostly a pain-free process. A wonder of wonders after years of sitting on psycho-cat to cram a pill down his throat.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

I adore your dog stories. You approach them with such compassion and understanding for who the dog is. Thank you!

2:35 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Honey, you need Velveeta. It's squishy enough to hide a pill in, and dogs think it's caviar. I know it's disgusting, but dogs like it and they will swallow a pill stuffed into it. Because essentially, dogs are dumb.

3:02 PM  
Blogger His Singer said...

Try cheese. Roll it up in plain old American, and he'll gulp it down.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

We're lucky, the dog has no allergies. She does have a fondness for dirty socks and cotton can be binding.

3:29 PM  
Blogger tenacious knitter said...

Like the previous commenter, I've had to pill my cat - but they make these marvelous pill poppers that deposit the pill at the back of the throat, temporarily gagging them, but it does then go down the throat.

BTW I found your blog through Enchanting Juno, and now I check it daily for your next entry - love it!

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

two words for getting the pills down: olive oil! :-)

4:12 PM  
Blogger OHN said...

Cheap cheese. Roll it, smush it, anything to get the pill concealed and the dog will think you were sent from dog heaven and beg for more.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I crush the pill between two spoons and sprinkle on food, seems to get the job done.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Xinh said...

My dog Sharky also will eat the meat and spit out the pill. And like all the other commentors, he goes ga-ga over the cheap cheese.

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Growing up when our dachshund had to take a pill, my sister and I would giggle for ages when my mom tried the peanut butter and then we'd watch her eat that peanut butter and spit the pill out.

Cheese did eventually work, but it wasn't as funny for us to watch!

6:10 AM  
Blogger jessica said...

Well, my suggestion was going to be children's benadryl as it is usually in liquid form... do they make one that disolves quickly in the mouth? Hmm...

7:12 AM  
Blogger Tammy's Thought Pattern said...

If you get the pills that pull apart, you could always mix it up in the meat or my dogs LOVE applesauce.

The person who suggested liquid was right too. An eyedropper and a well postioned headlock should to the trick.

7:25 AM  
Blogger Dodi said...

I must agree with those above who suggested cheese. Works every single time with our dogs. One small cheddar cheese cube with a pill stuffed inside and they can't wait until it's pill time again.

Good luck!!!

9:56 AM  
Blogger guerrilla girl said...

May I just say that I'm really impressed you can take Benadryl? It's a recipe for instant unconsciousness for me!

As to pilling the pup, pulverize and sprinkle always worked pretty well for us.

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

I have always pulverized like guerilla girl but also Tenacious-knitter thank you for mentioning the pill popper for cats! I ahdnt heard of it Because do I have a cat and does he not enjoy taking pills!

10:56 AM  
Anonymous Carolyn B. said...

Have you tried the quick-dissolving Benadryl strips? It just occurred to me that they might work.

2:51 PM  
Blogger panda said...

I crush the pill between two spoons, add 8-10 drops of water and a tiny bit of wet dog food or cottage cheese or anything mushy, mush some more, and then put it into on of the larger-opening syringes you can get from the vet, and squirt it into the back of her mouth. This has the added benefit of keeping my fingers out of the way of dog and cat molars. It doesn't take as long as it sounds. My inherited-from-family shi-tzu is a master pill rejector, and she now gets all her meds down her throat. I win!


BTW, love your blog.

4:54 PM  
Blogger Lene Andersen said...

Nutella might work (well, unless he's allergic to nuts, too). Or butter, but that's probably bad for him. When I have to give Mojo (aka Her Royal Catness) pills, I crush them and mix the powder in her food. Seems to work.

Good luck. I suspect the dog will win. ;)

7:34 PM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

Thomas the wonder hound is also allergic to taking pills.

Pulverize the pill and put it in cheese, yes, that works.

Pulverize the pill and put it in a tablespoon of whipped cream (the kind you get in a nozzle can from Trader Joe's), ohhhhhhhh yes, THAT works.

12:42 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Wait a minute! If peanut butter made his allergies worse and then you changed his diet to remove all those fillers....isn't it possible he doesn't NEED benadryl anymore? Maybe he just needed the diet change!

Have you ever given the cat pink antibiotic? Man, I've got that stuff splattered all over my house!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

When not using peanut butter (to which our dog is thankfully not allergic), we use cream cheese. Hey, a couple weeks ago when Chappy swallowed part of a latex glove, we gave him hydrogen peroxide mixed with just a little ice cream. Dairy products are just wonderful (grin). But my last resort? Grinding it up and putting it on his food--usually under the salmon oil which he loooooves.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Cheese worked with my last dog, but not so much with Sebastian. He would still find a way to eat the cheese and spit out any pills.

He's not crazy about it, but he does allow me to open his mouth wide and jam the pill halfway down his throat, so he can't spit it back out. I think he realized that the pills help him feel better. Especially the pepto pills after he's been gnawing on a bone.

It never occurred to me to pulverize pills. I am a bad dog mommy, I guess.

Hope the pup feels better soon!

11:41 PM  
Anonymous shannon said...

Cream cheese will have the same entertainment value as the peanut butter w/o the allergy issue. As for the liquid benadryl, we gave that to our dog once and the amount of drool she produced as a result could have filled a bucket. I wouldn't suggest it.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Use the Benadryl quick dissolve strips or the liquid - that's what works for my children!

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hide the pill in a small cube of cheese. Velveeta is good because it has a half life something like carbon and will keep forever in the fridge. Then, this is very important, TOSS the cube to the dog who catches it in the back of his throat and almost certainly swallows it whole. If he is one of those intelligent, talented dogs, cut a couple of cubes to toss first. If he chews and finds no surprise, he may swallow the last on whole. This is actually kind of fun.

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use cubed chicked or cheese for my dog's tablets too. I have smeared them with Marmite and that works too, on occasion. But yes, the best way is to ram them elbow deep down their throats. And don't give pills just before you feed them their meals if you can help it - my lurcher refused to eat for three days because he associated the two, and I didn't think he was that bright :)

7:24 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Hi Quinn,

You probably didn't think your blog was a source of valuable information for new pet owners... but it has been.

I adopted my dog, Agnes, on Easter Sunday. Within the first week, I needed to give her some meds, and luckily I remembered your wonderful readers' comments here on this post.

Turns out Agnes will do just about anything for processed cheese.

She sends her thanks to you and your readers!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/catalogthis/tags/agnes/

10:35 AM  

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