DIY Dog Medication Compounding: Make Your Own Capsules for Your Dog’s Meds

Do you have a hard time getting your dog to eat their pills?

Some dogs accept medications well, some are quite finicky and some, like Jasmine was, couldn’t be fooled. She accepted a pill hidden in food once. Found it in there and that was it forever. She could tell whether the food was manipulated or not. If she really wanted the food, she’d eat around the pill and spit it out. Or she’d just spit out the whole thing.

The only way of getting any medication into Jasmine was by sticking it down her throat. And even then she’d somehow manage to “cheek it” and spit out later undetected.

DIY Dog Medication Compounding: Make Your Own Capsules for your Dog's Meds

Why some dogs take their pills and some don’t?

I believe that the most important difference is whether a dog chews their treats or not. If your dog inhales anything they are offered, they likely won’t have any idea that they ate a medication. With such dogs, it is easy to hide the pills in anything that is yummy enough.

One of the successful methods includes throwing the adulterated treats if the dog is used to getting treats for tricks that way.

Further information: Pills? 5 Easy Solutions for Uncooperative Pooches

If your dog chews their treats

JD was a gulper. Giving him medications was easy.

Jasmine chewed everything she got. Cookie chews most things she gets.

I can only hide Cookie’s pills in stuff that I know she won’t chew. And there are not many of those. I am pretty much limited to peanut butter and cream cheese.

Chewables

Some medications and supplements are made in a chewable form. They are meant to be given as a treat. 

JD took those happily. To Cookie, however, they’re not attractive enough. I have to cut them up small and also hide in food.

Pill pockets

Pill pockets type of delivery can be great if your dog just needs one or two pills a day and, again, doesn’t chew them. Cookie, with all her herbs and supplements, gets over 15 pills, gels, and capsules a day. Even if they worked, pill pockets would have to replace her meals.

What does the medication smell and taste like?

Jasmine actually used to like her integrative herbs mixed with her meals.

Cookie does not. I started by just introducing literally a pinch into a small portion of her food. She turned her nose on it and refused the rest of the food as well even though it was not tainted.

“What did you do to my food? It’s contaminated!”

How would we ever get her to accept the full dose, which was substantial?

A different idea

Did you hear about compounding pharmacies? They customize the medication to individualize and making it acceptable to the dog. They can transform the substance into any form that might work best. You can try and become your own compounding pharmacy to get your dog to take their meds.

Some medications come in capsules, such as Gabapentin Jasmine was on. When we were weaning her off it, we had to reduce the dose to less than a content of the capsule. What do you know, if you do it carefully enough, these things come apart quite well.

My initial thought was to try and get some blank capsules and put Cookie’s hers in that. When we talked to our pharmacist, though, he said that it is cheaper to buy something benign such as gelatin capsules instead, and just empty them and replace the content with whatever we need Cookie to take.

And it works quite great.

In the meantime we got Cookie’s herbs already in capsules, however, I’ve been using these for some other things that come in powder and she’s not keen on.

Foul-tasting meds

You don’t have to use the capsules just for powder medications.

Some pills, such as Tramadol, Zytran, and as it seems even Cookie’s Trazodone taste quite awful. When Jasmine got a taste of Tramadol or Zytran she was very unhappy, foaming like crazy and trying to get the horrible taste out of her mouth. Now imagine that is she did spit it out hubby still had to go ahead and put it right back in.

Cookie too found the Trazodone in her cheese roll and was less than impressed. As it turns out, many of these things fit right into the capsule too. The capsule itself doesn’t have any taste on its own and hides the nasty content really well.

So if you have some pills that are nasty tasting, or powder your dog won’t eat, make your own medication capsules.

Related articles:
Pain Management For Dogs: Types of Pain Medications for Dogs And What They Do

Further reading:
Making the Medicine Go Down: Giving a Dog a Pill

Categories: Dog careMedicating your dog

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

7 Comments
  1. That’s a great solution! We’ve had luck doing that, as well as dissolving it in some sort of natural bone broth. It’s funny how some dogs are finicky and others will go put down anything, makes me laugh.

  2. I’ve had problems with Brulee taking medication and a lot of the pills for cats taste terrible. I was finally able to use the Tomlyn Pill Masker and she’d take the medication. There was one pill last year that she bit into and immediately began foaming at the mouth. I need to ask the vet about compounding her medication.

  3. We haven’t had any problems with our dogs taking their medication (which isn’t too often anyhow), but this seems like a great way to help the medicine go down!

  4. Empty capsules have literally saved my cat with heart disease’s life. He gets four different kinds of heart medication. I can put them all in one empty capsule, shoot it down his throat, and we’re done. You can buy empty capsules online. You can also get vegetarian capsules that aren’t made of beef tar.

  5. Marjorie Dawson

    I would love to have a compounding veterinary pharmacy here it would make some medicines much easier to administer especially with a fussy cat! I could use a pill popper syringe.

    I can relate to the picky pet not wanting to eat something ‘contaminated’ I have this with Harvey ALL the time 😉 This is frustrating!

  6. I haven’t tried making capsules for my cats. But I do compound liquids. If the vet says the pill or capsule can be crushed I mix it with a little broth or goat milk or tuna water. Sometimes I can mix it in a licky treat or baby food, so I get some unmixed treat in the syringe, then the stuff with the med in it, then some more normal. By the time they get to the part with the med in it they aren’t so suspicious and by the time they have gotten the meds and gotten the idea something is wrong they are getting the good stuff again.

  7. Compounding is great! When my Siouxsie-cat was nearing the end of her life, she was on buprenorphine for severe arthritis pain. I had it compounded into a chicken-flavored liquid and she actually looked forward to getting it. And buying gelatin capsules and filling them with herbs and other supplements is a brilliant idea. If I end up giving herbal remedies to any of my cats, I’ll try that.

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