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How to give your dog a pill

Updated on January 5, 2013
Liquid medicine can be given with a dropper.
Liquid medicine can be given with a dropper. | Source

Medicating should not turn into a hassle

The negative aspect about giving pills to our dogs is the fact that the poor dog lacks the capability to understand that it is all done for their own good.

Working at a veterinarian office I have got many calls from frantic owners that couldn't administer their beloved dog the prescribed pills. One owner in particular told me: "I have the sweetest dog but when pilling time comes she turns into a vicious coyote!"

However, it doesn't necessarily have to be such a big ordeal.

Finding a way to pill your dog in an acceptable manner is especially fundamental in those dogs with chronic conditions that require continuous pilling throughout their lifetimes. Going through such a hassle every day can perfectly ruin one of the best dog/owner relationships and easily turn into feelings of mistrust and fear.

When giving pills to a dog there are basically three options:

Option 1: Hide it in Food

If the medication can be given with food- read the label carefully or ask the vet- hide the pill inside a "meatball" of canned food. Roll some canned food into a meatball and insert the pill in the middle or you can try to crush the pill (check if the medication may be taken crushed) and insert it into a piece of hot-dog or cheese. Most dogs may will readily gulp it down with no effort. Others though, usually the most finicky, may still be able to sense the pill or will chew and spit the pill out. Some owners crush the pills and mix them into their canned food. Another option are Pill pockets, a special yummy treat available in different flavors at vet offices and major pet store retailers. These treats are equipped with a hollow end where to insert the pill.

Option 2: Force it Down

In some case just forcing the pill down is the fastest option. This is usually an accepted method if you have a pretty calm dog and have to only administer pills for a short time.

The first step is to kneel down at your dog's level. Take his/her muzzle with one hand and direct the dog's face vertically towards the ceiling. Then pry the dog's mouth open and push the pill quickly and firmly as back as possible. Let go of the jaw and massage the dog's throat to encourage swallowing. Check to make sure the pill has gone down before releasing him/her as some dogs are masters in tricking owners and spitting the pill out upon release. It may help to offer a treat afterward, to encourage swallowing. If this method does not seem to work well, try to invest in a pill popper. Most vet offices sell these. It's a sort of syringe that will pop the pill quickly and effectively down the dog's throat.

If you are dealing with a liquid medication, most come with a dosing dropper. Place this dropper in the dog's cheek pocket and squirt the liquid. Some liquid medications are pretty tasty, so you can skip this part and offer it on top your dog's food.

Option 3: Compounding Pharmacy

Research for a compounding pharmacy in your area. More and more compounding pharmacies specialize in turning the most sour, bitter pills into mouth watering liquids or chew-ables. They may add chicken or fish flavor and make pilling feel more like a reward. This is a great solution for those owners that have to administer pills on a regular basis, however the medication may turn up being more costly.

Whichever option works the best, it will teach your beloved dog that medicating does not have to be a painful or stressful experience, but actually it can turn out into a pleasurable event, that most importantly, will not affect that unique bond that reunites canines and their owners.


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    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Have your tried pill pockets? If he has no appetite though it won't work .Ask your vet if the medicine you are giving can be found in an apothecary near you. Some places are great in making pills in powder form or liquid. Also ask your vet if you can grind the pills or open the capsule and add them to the syringe with the food. Always ask as some meds aren't meant to be given this way. Alternatively, read some of these tricks: look under Your Dog is Sick and Won't Eat ask your vet about a pill popper.

    • profile image

      Raymond 3 years ago

      My rottweiler is sick,been sick for 3 month,getting better with meds,i have to surenge feed him and he wont take his cocktail of biotic and pain pills, please help me

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      It really does, we sold a lot of pill pockets at the vet's office.

    • Reynolds_Writing profile image

      Reynolds_Writing 9 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I love Pill Pockets for my dog. Makes the process so much easier.