Flavored Medications for Your Dog: Good Idea or Bad?

Home > Dog Wellness > Flavored Medications for Your Dog: Good Idea or Bad?

No one likes to choke down gross tasting medicine. If you have kids, you know that a lot of kids will just spit it out, refusing to take it. So, we give it a bubble gum flavoring, which helps sometimes and sometimes seems to make it worse.

Well, if you think giving a kid nasty tasting medicine is tough, try giving it to a dog! If you can even get your dog to open his mouth, the medicine will likely end up being spit out or thrown up all over the floor (or someplace worse). Well thankfully, a lot of dog medications now come in dog-friendly flavors like beef, chicken, lamb, and others. This can make giving your dog her medicine as easy as giving her a treat. She might even sit and shake for it! This may seem like the greatest idea since sliced bread, but some veterinarians and pet-parents have voiced some concern about flavored medicines. It is good to be informed, so here is one obvious reason why flavored dog medications are a good thing and two reasons they might not be a good idea.

The One Obvious Good Thing About Flavored Dog Medications

Your dog will actually take it! Medicine can’t do your dog any good unless your dog will take the medicine. Anyone who has ever attempted to give a dog medicine that actually tastes like medicine knows that I dog simply won’t swallow what a dog doesn’t want to swallow. Your furry friend may be willing to eat a week-old dead bird in your backyard or lick the bottom of a trash can but she would rather die than swallow a chalky pill or liquid. Taking that chalky pill or liquid and turning it into a salmon or peanut butter flavored pill or liquid can often get the job done very quickly. She’ll probably even think it’s a treat! Yay, flavored dog medicine! Right?

Hold On: Two Bad Things About Flavored Medicines for Your Dog

#1. Your Dog Could Overdose

It’s important to know that your dog’s sense of smell is between 10,000 and 100,000 times stronger than yours. This means that although you can’t smell the beef flavoring inside that thick plastic pill bottle, chances are your dog can, and if your dog can smell it there’s a pretty good possibility she’ll try to eat it. Judging by the graveyard of chew toys in your backyard, it goes without saying that the plastic bottle and even the cap that gives you trouble doesn’t stand a chance of keeping your dog away from those lamb-flavored goodies. Assuming your dog gets into the bottle, there won’t just be one missing; they’re all going in her tummy. Depending on what medicine your dog has eaten, she could become very ill or die. That is the greatest danger of flavored medicine for dogs.

#2. You Could Be Out a Lot of Money

If you get lucky and the medicine or supplement your dog eats doesn’t cause anything worse than an upset tummy, chances are this is going to be pretty expensive. You might have vet bills from trying to determine if the medicine is dangerous for your dog and, let’s face it, dog medicine and supplements aren’t free. You’d hate to have to buy it twice.

A Few Tips

In order to enjoy the benefit of flavored dog medicines without experiencing the negatives:

  • Keep your dog’s medicine containers inside a sealed plastic bag and store them somewhere your dog cannot possibly get to them, like an upper cabinet with a door that shuts tightly.
  • Don’t store your dog’s treats and your dog’s medications in the same place. This is a simple way to avoid a dangerous mistake.
  • Don’t hold the open bottle of medication in your hand while giving your dog her dosage. She might knock it out of your hand and start chowing down on the spilled medication.

Doing What is Best for Your Dog

If you have questions or concerns about flavored medications for your dog, share these with your vet. If you do choose to give these medications to your dog, just remember that you have to be very careful with storage. Your dog needs to take her medicine; flavoring can help you with that. However, recognizing that your dog loves things that smell (remember her super-powered nose!) and taste like cheese and chicken so much that she’ll chew through a plastic bag and bottle to eat every last one, can help you to store it someplace safe. Flavored medicines are like a lot of things in life, good when they’re used the way they’re supposed to be used, dangerous when they’re not.

Book me a walkiee?
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd