How to give a dog a pill (works for cats, too!)

How to give a dog a pill (works for cats, too!)

Our furry family members get sick just like the rest of us. And, as much as we might hate taking medication ourselves, it can be even harder to convince your pet to take the medicine he needs to get better. Fortunately, there are things you can do to make him more likely to take his pills--and he might even enjoy it!

How to give a dog a pill

Unless your dog is one of the rare or picky few, chances are that he enjoys treats. That will be your savior here!

Food works really well for hiding the pill itself (as well as its taste). The options are endless, but once you find your pet’s favorite, you’ve likely found your answer for administering medications now and in the future. Foods to try include cream cheese, cottage cheese, deli meats, and cheese (especially if it’s spreadable). Just remember that the idea is to make the treat as small as possible so that it requires little to no chewing.

Some dogs might pull a fast one on you, though, and eat their special treat while managing to spit out or avoid the pill you’ve put inside it. In cases like these, it’s best to use a food that is harder to separate the pill from or that are help your pet swallow with greater ease. You might try peanut butter, yogurt, or Skinny Coconut Oil.

How to give a dog liquid medicine

Perhaps your dog has no interest in food due to his ailment or illness, or maybe the medicine prescribed only comes in a liquid variety. That’s OK. It might make things a bit trickier, but it is possible to give your dog liquid medicine at home.

First, it’s important to note that liquid medications should come with a dropper or syringe for administration; if it does not, ask your veterinarian for one. Then, to get started, fill the dropper or syringe with the prescribed amount of medicine. Hold your dog’s head still with one hand while inserting the tip of the dropper or syringe into a corner of your dog’s mouth (between the cheek and teeth). Aiming toward the back of your dog’s head without tilting his head back, as this may cause inhalation of the medication. Squeeze the dropper or depress the syringe plunger to empty it into your dog’s mouth. After that, you’ll want to hold your dog’s mouth closed and stroke his throat or blow in his nose to encourage swallowing.

Restraining your dog to administer medicine

If your dog struggles or tries to escape when you give him his medicine, you may need to find a way to keep him still; you might especially find this to be the case when administering liquid medication with a dropper or syringe which your dog has never encountered before. If you don’t have someone who can help in restraining your dog, you may want to sit on the floor and hold the front of your dog’s body against your body or on your lap. If your dog is too large to do that, try standing behind him and having him sit back against your legs. Other tips to try include backing your dog into a corner so he has nowhere to escape to or wrapping him in a large towel that is held against your body and leaving only his head too tightly. Just make sure you don’t wrap your dog too tightly, especially if he is small!

Final thoughts

Regardless of the method you choose for administering medicine to your dog, always talk to him calmly. If he becomes too agitated, and stop administering the medicine for the moment; you can try again at a later time, but remember that you can always contact your veterinarian if you have questions or run into any problems. He or she can demonstrate the proper way to administer medication if you continue to struggle.

Once you have finished giving your dog his medicine (or even if you’ve failed and the situation was stressful), reward your dog with a treat so that he becomes trained to think of the experience as a good one going forward. (We recommend a small amount of Skinny Coconut Oil or these homemade coconut oil dog treats.)

As a final note, remember that you should only ever use medications that your veterinarian has prescribed for treatment of your dog or cat. Once treatment has started, make sure that all medications are given to your pet for the full length of time prescribed. If you treatment early, you risk the problem not resolving or potentially getting worse.

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