• Hello. My dog, Lily, was diagnosed with Fanconi Syndrome early last year. We immediately started her on Dr. Gonto’s protocol. At this point, she needs 14 sodium bicarbonate (650mg) tablets, 2 pet-cal vitamins, and 2 pet tab plus vitamins a day. The problem that we have run into is that she refuses to eat anything that has medicine in it. Also, whatever food she was eating that had medicine in it, she will no longer touch for fear that there is medicine in it. She stops eating for days. At this point, she has not taken any medicine for a few months. I fear that she is going to get very sick if I can’t get her to take her medicine. I am not willing to jam all of these pills down her throat every day. I feel that it’s not fair to her to do that. I have tried everything, cheese, peanut butter, meatballs, flavored sodium bicarbonate treats (made by a compounding pharmacy), etc. and can not get her to take any medicine. Does anyone have any ideas? Or has anyone had experience with this problem? Any suggestions would be appreciated.


  • Sorry to hear that Lily has Fanconi..... how old is she? We have had testing for Fanconi since 2007 (DNA testing). Was her sire/dam tested or is she a rescue?

    Is it just the sodium that she is refusing, will she take the vitamins since those are mostly flavored. And while I don't have any suggestions for you except that sometimes you have to make a deal..... "I will not hide pills in your food if you let me "shove" these down".... Sorry to say that this issue (refusing to take pills) is not uncommon. Good luck.....

  • Please contact Camp Basenji. She has had a lot of success keeping Fanconi dogs healthy.

  • Hi,

    Thank you for your reply. Lily turned 9 years old in December. My husband and I rescued her from a local Pet shop that closed. She was there for a very long time (4 to 6 weeks?). My husband and I have always had German Shepherds that we bought from breeders so we weren’t familiar with Basenjis. I just felt so sorry for Lily that I had to save her. She is a very smart dog but fiercely independent and she doesn’t listen to anything she is told to do. About a year ago, I noticed she was drinking a lot of water and urinating a lot more frequently so I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with Fanconi Syndrome. She started the Fanconi protocol but was not getting any better so we gradually went up to 7 tabs of sodium bicarbonate twice a day. She needs to take 20 tablets a day total so forcing her to swallow them is not an option. My husband was doing that for a short period of time but she developed an irritation in her esophagus which caused a cough. We took her to the vet and she was given antibiotics and steroids for 2 weeks. This helped take down the inflammation in her throat. Anyway, I am at a loss as to what to do. I had a local compounding pharmacy make special liver treats (sodium bicar) and she won’t touch them. I had the pharmacy make the treats with half the amount of sodium bicarb in each treat and she still won’t touch them. Then I had them make the treats chicken flavored and still no luck. She is too smart for her own good. We used to put the pills in soft cheese and she would take them but once she figured out there were pills in the cheese she stopped eating cheese all together. She doesn’t like peanut butter. I made meatballs and put the pills in them but that didn’t work. She eventually figures out that there are pills in whatever you put them in and she stops eating all together. This can go on for days. So at this point, she is eating but has not gotten pills in several months. She will take the compounded treats if I wrap them in pill pockets but apparently, the pill pockets, neutralize the sodium bicarb so it is like not giving her any pills at all. I tried to make homemade pill pockets and she won’t touch them. Thank you for your concern and suggestions.


  • @anna As Debra suggested you might want to contact Camp Basenjis, since they have experience, could be they have something that will help you/her out. Their website is www.campbasenji.org

  • Sorry to hear that....and I have to say that I am furious because people dont test their dogs...its not expensive and its once in a lifetime (I know, puppy mills people dont care 😔)...

    When Fred had to take pills for his UTI, it was the same, he stopped eating. So i make a powder od of the pills, put some water and into syringe. Opened his mouth, injected it into his mouth and That’s that. After - a treat. And I did it in the way ot wasnt attached with food or walk. After a while, he stopped making tantrums, he just sat and let me do my thing...

  • Oh, Anna--I so feel your frustration: I just finished a 6 week course of doxycycline for a rescue /w lepto, and I spent the entire time stressing because he. Would. Not. Take. His. Pills. And that was just 4 pills/day--I can't imagine getting all that Sodium Bicarb down a dog's throat. I'm not surprised it irritated Lilly's throat.
    So, yes--contact Pam Hamilton at Camp Basenji. Have copies of your girl's original diagnostic bloodwork ready to send her, as well as her most recent bloodwork. Did your vet do a Fanconi genetic test on Lily? I ask because she was diagnosed late-ish for a Fanconi dog so it would be a good idea to confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes vets aren't too knowlegable about Fanconi and assume any kidney disease in a basenji is Fanconi. That was the assumption in my dog's case, when in reality he had chronic leptospirosis. Be patient with Pam, tho--she's running a rescue of mostly sick, old or disabled dogs and runs herself ragged worrying about pills and tests and vet bills! She has a heart of gold, tho, and a soft spot for sick pups...
    Now, after consulting a ton of people, here's how I finally got pills into my fella, mostly by trial and error:

    1. I ordered empty bacon-flavored, gelatin pill capsules online in two sizes--your compounding pharmacy should be able to help you with what sizes to order.
    2. Important Note!! Don't touch the pills with your fingers--use tweezers, otherwise you'll contaminate the food with the smell/bitter taste and the dog won't touch it!
    3. I cut the pills in two, dipped them in bacon or sardine oil and sealed them in the smaller of the two gel caps. I rolled THAT in the stinky stuff, then sealed it in the larger of the two bacon-flavored capsules.
    4. I bought fresh, hot, delicious bbq chicken at the deli counter and fed it to him by hand at meals for two days. The third day I wrapped a pill in the 2nd piece of chicken and he ate it! It helped that my other two dogs were there, too--he didn't hesitate in case one of the others got more than he did.

    Finally, if you do have to resort to force feeding, the capsules are less likely to irritate Llly's throat, especially if They're lubricated with bacon grease. There's also a pill coating sold online that helps people swallow pills...

    I hope this helps...Keep us posted!

  • I'm so very sorry for anyone with a Fanconi boy or girl and we are so lucky to have Steve Gonto's help to keep them going.
    My old boy (12) has to have medication - on going for his liver. I buy pate from the local supermarket. Hidden in a small piece of pate, he wolfs the pills (which are large) down. If I run out of pate he gets it in some nice creamy cheese - he loves Cambazola or Brie. NOT cheap, but hassle free and he doesn't think he is getting medication. In the past I have buried short-term pills in cottage cheese on top of the food but for the past year - pate or soft cheese works a treat. Good luck on all counts

  • I would like to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. I have been in contact with Dr. Gonto and he has given me a few more suggestions. My veterinarian has been working with Dr. Gonto, he consults on cases of Basenjis with Fanconi Syndrome, regarding Lily since she was initially diagnosed. Dr. Gonto was the one that prompted me to join an online forum to post about Lily and ask for suggestions regarding how to hide her pills so she will take the. I had started with cream cheese, which initially worked, then went on to havarti cheese and many other types of soft cheese. I have tried meatballs, pot roast with lots of gravy, liverwurst, liver treats and chicken treats made by a compounding pharmacy, and even various cold cuts to wrap the pills in. Having read everyone’s posts, I think I have finally figured out what I am doing wrong. Apparently, sodium bicarbonate is extremely bitter and because I am touching the pills with my hands and then coating them with foods to mask the flavor, I am contaminating the foods I am using to mask the pills with sodium bicarbonate, which Lily can easily smell. I am going to try using nitrile gloves when preparing the pills, being careful when I coat them with food and using tweezers so I am having the least amount of contact possible with the sodium bicarbonate. After I am finished preparing the pills, I will remove the gloves and feed them to Lily, while her brother, Georgie gets a treat, so she will be more inclined to swallow them quickly for fear Georgie will eat them first. Dr. Gonto suggested coating the pills in cat food that is fish flavored. I am ready to give this a try and I’m crossing my fingers that it will work. I have also reached out to Camp Basenji for additional suggestions. I would like to thank everyone once again for the comments and suggestions. I’m afraid that getting Lily to take her pills is going to be an ongoing challenge.

  • You have very likely hit on the problem ! I use Olbas Oil for me when I have anything approaching a cold or blocked nose. If I go down in the morning, clutching a handkerchief which was sprayed with it the night before, unless I wash my hands, the dogs won't even take treats from that particular hand. Good luck !

  • I have had a the same problem with my basenji. I thought it was hopeless but found that I needed to grind all the tablets in a mortar and pestle. I bought number 4 empty capsules online. They come in packs of about a thousand or so and the number 4's are small enough to hide in food. I put all of her required medicine into the empty capsules... Do this for about 2 hours on a day that you have extra time and you can have enough for a whole months supply. I then cut up little chunks of pork that has been grilled on my foreman grill big enough to fit each capsule in and totally hide the capsule. I take a chopstick and poke a hole in each small piece of pork and then insert the capsule into each piece. Before putting the capsules into the pork though, it can be helpful to wipe them off and make sure you have no residue of any of the medicine on your hands when you handle the pork. Rubbing them in bacon grease before inserting them also helps get any odors off the capsules but is not necessary. My dog rarely notices when I do this, and of course the capsules are tasteless unless she happens to break one... Which she'll spit out. But it's not a big deal as I'll just give her another piece of pork with another capsule in it. This method has worked great for me when nothing else seemed to work. It may seem like a lot of work, but once you get the system down it doesn't take too long. Hope that helps.

  • @dropit - Great idea! Thanks for sharing

  • I know people think Gonto walks on water...and I don't in any way want to take away from his incredible work for Basenjis, but be aware he is not a veterinarian. He is not a medical doctor.

    People have blindly followed him even when his protocol was clearly not working for their dog. I have heard of far too many who think if his protocol doesn't work, then there's no other option. And if you even suggest that further research by medical researchers might be helpful in advancing the protocol, better have on your flame retardant suit because they will come for you.

    When dogs that have been given up on try adjustments and their quality of life improves, then his is not the only way.

    If his protocol is working and your dog is doing really well, great. If not, please think of all the different treatments for many disorders...one treatment rarely is the right for all. It isn't a personal insult to Dr Gonto to try something else if it might help your dog.

    Pam Hamilton isn't a medical doctor or veterinarian either, but I have seen near miracles. At least talk to her, discuss options, try them if you like. flbasenji@gmail.com

    Ultimately we all want to keep our dogs as healthy as long as possible. Quality of life matters. Just keep an open mind.

  • Hello, I had a wonderful basenji named Titan back in the day who had Fanconi. He too would not eat anything with a pill in it, pill pockets did not work. We finally did just pill him by putting pills down the throat and then we gave him treats afterwards--cheese, dog cookies, raw meat bits, salmon treats, ham, chicken bits--just everything and anything he liked.

    That worked very well for us and he would actually trot into the kitchen and wait expectantly for his post pill treats. We pilled Titan twice a day with about the same dosage as you mention in your post. You might want to try pilling him that way, start by giving him 2 pills, then a treat, 2 pills, then a treat and treats afterwards.

    I was able to put 2 pills between my fingers and give him 2 pills at a time after awhile. Also, lots of praise and hugs during. You can slowly work up to giving him a treat between every 4-5 treats.

    Best of luck,


  • Regarding Gonto not being a vet.

    The Gonto protocol was analyzed and investigated in a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association back in 2004 and it was found to be a sound and useful protocol.

    He has since revised it www.basenjirescue.org/fanconi/fanconi-protocol-2015.pdf

    No treatment works 100% of the time, but this was quite the lifesaver for my family. My dog Titan was on it for four years and his levels were stable up until the end when he succumbed from a brain tumor.


  • Regarding pilling, I find some dogs aren't too difficult, but I had one Basenji in particular that would appear to have swallowed the pill but subsequently would spit it out, often after having collected the treat that came as a reward. I don't know how she did it! OTOH, my Border Collie spit out a pill once and when I expressed my displeasure he gave me a "sorry boss" look and promptly picked up the pill and ate it. Different breeds! When I had both it was night and day dealing with them. The BC would do anything for my praise, was not at all interested in treats (would eat them if I insisted), the Basenjis were always "What's in it for me?"

  • @debradownsouth Good point. We're so fortunate to have both Pam and Steve Gonto to support our sick babies. Pam is indeed a miracle worker, and never gives up on dogs.

  • Hello. Just wanted to thank everyone once again. Today was a very successful day. I was able to get Lily to take all 7 sodium bicarbonate tablets in cat food. I was very careful when hiding the pills. I used tweezers and gloves and I think that did the trick. Tomorrow I will try 7 tabs in the morning and 7 tabs at night. After a few days, I will add her vitamins to the regimen. Thanks again and I will keep you posted!

  • @b5004ever said in Fanconi Syndrome:

    Regarding Gonto not being a vet.

    The Gonto protocol was analyzed and investigated in a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Association back in 2004 and it was found to be a sound and useful protocol.
    (https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.2004.225.377). <<

    Actually, they found nothing

    What effect the treatment regimen had on survival time or lifespan could not be determined, given the small number of dogs managed with other methods. <<

  • @anna I"m adding this only because I didn't see it suggested in the other 18 responses... I have never had to give so many pills as you are - so I feel for you (so to speak). But, try this... get a cheap coffee grinder and grind the pills up. Then, instead of putting them into pill casings, mix them with some chicken stock and pour the stock over their breakfast/dinner foods. You'll probably only need 1-2T of stock to disolve the powder and the liquid should act like a gravy sauce over kibble or human foods. Bet the bowl gets licked dry! Here's hoping that you find a solution that works for everyone!

Suggested Topics

  • 12
  • 38
  • 4
  • 5
  • 9
  • 5