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How to Give Your Dog Capsules

Updated on March 28, 2010

Giving a dog a tiny tablet isn't usually a big problem and most dogs will take them pretty easily if you know what you're doing. But try giving a dog a large sized gel cap, and you might have another situation on your hands. Obviously, this article presupposes that you're not giving a biggish capsule to a puppy or other inappropriately small dog who can't physically swallow something that big. But if your dog's mouth and throat are the appropriate size and you just can't get those gel cap vitamins or other types of meds down there, try the following tips.

Problem One: Fido Spits them Out

If Fido is spitting your capsules or pills out, you're giving them to him wrong. But don't worry; it's pretty easy to learn how to do it right. And you'll know when you are, cos he'll just swallow em up with no fuss on the first go.

Problem Two: Capsules Get Stuck on the Lips

Lick a capsule and you'll see how sticky it gets. Stick a gel cap in Fido's mouth and it's likely to get stuck on his gums and lips when he tries to sneak it out of his mouth. This can make it look like he's swallowed it, which could mean he winds up not getting his meds. There are two easy solutions to the sticky factor.

  • Trick one: Stick it in your own mouth first.

    Ok, I'm not advising you do this if the capsules in question are actual meds, but if you're giving Fido Omega 3s or some sort of vitamin, it should be fine. All you're going to do is stick it in your mouth long enough to get the whole thing lubricated. Once it is, it will go down Fido's throat easily without getting stuck in his mouth first. And if you think this is gross, just realize that Fido's saliva probably goes into your own mouth way more frequently via doggie kisses.

  • Trick two: Probiotic Yogurt

    If these are real meds you shouldn't be sticking in your own mouth, try dipping them in yogurt first. But not regular yogurt, because it's got too much sugar -- see my article on probiotic yogurt for dogs. Dip the capsule in the yogurt and get it nice and slimy so it won't get stuck. And voila! Something lubricated and yummy!

  • Avoid water: Water is not a good lubricant.

How to cope:

  • Make sure the capsule is lubricated (see right column)

  • Let him keep his head straight, you do not need to point his nose up to the sky and that could make him think he needs to be worried about what you're doing.

  • Open his mouth with one hand -- a couple of inches is all you need.

  • Position the hand with the LUBRICATED capsule right in front of his mouth, up to his teeth, but not IN his mouth.

  • GENTLY pop one capsule onto his tongue and close his mouth. GENTLY!

    **You should practice this first over your counter top to see how far it pops. Your palm should be up and use your thumb to pop it about one inch in distance (this may vary depending on the size of your dog's mouth). You are not supposed to pop it straight down his throat! Simply pop it back to the center of his tongue and let him swallow naturally. You can encourage this by closing his mouth after it's in there**

  • If you mess up it's not a big deal. Don't stress, don't get angry, just start over. You don't want him associating pill taking with stress or with you getting angry. Just re-do it and that's that.

  • Check the mouth

    To check, simply open the mouth gently and have a look. Feel along the gums to make sure it didn't wind up over there.

  • Give a treat!

    This is really important. Give a dog a treat every time they take a pill and they will not mind the process as long as you don't make it stressful for them. It's also helpful to ensure the pill's been swallowed. You may also encourage a drink of water afterward.



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