How to Give a Dog a Pill: 7 Simple Hacks
A spoonful of sugar might do the trick for us, but our canine companions tend to need more help with their medicine.
While some dogs aren’t fussy and can have their pills with dinner, others need a little push.
Thankfully, there are many different ways to give your dog medicine without having to chase them around the house.
Talk to Your Veterinarian
It’s important to talk to your vet before trying out any methods on this list.
Different types of medication are most effective in specific ways, and there can be certain dos and don’ts with each type.
Some methods for giving your dog their medicine call for you to break or crush the pill into a fine powder. The catch is that this method can reduce the effectiveness of some pills.
For example, antibiotics like clindamycin and amoxicillin shouldn’t be crushed into a powder, and similarly, neither should a seizure medication known as Keppra.
Talking to your vet will give you a good heads-up on the best way to get your beloved dog to take their pills.
1. Mix It in With Their Meal
This one is the most obvious yet effective method you can try.
Mealtime is a sacred time for any pup — they wouldn't dare miss it.
Take advantage of this and hide the pill inside their dinner.
If your pup uses a slow feed dog bowl, switch to a traditional bowl for mealtime when it's time for your furry friend to take their medicine. This allows them to eagerly gulp down all the food without noticing the pills hidden inside.
However, if you have many dogs, you have to be careful to ensure the right dog gets the right medicine. Feed your dogs separately so that your other pups don’t steal the medicated meal.
Even though this option may seem like the easiest solution, it’s been known to happen that some pups pick up on these tricks.
Eventually, they learn how to eat around the pill. Or, other times, they may even spit it out.
How can you avoid this frustrating experience? Here are a few ways to do so using different kinds of food.
If you have any bratwurst or dog safe sausages, you can use them to hide capsules or small pills. Most dogs tend to devour these treats without any fuss.
Using chopsticks, you can make a hole in the middle of the sausage. Then, get the pill and stick it in.
This is an excellent option for owners wondering how to give their dog a capsule pill.
Before you choose this method, review the list of ingredients in the sausage to verify that it’s safe — it shouldn’t contain any onions, garlic, or other doggo-taboo foods.
Note: Dogs that suffer from pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other health conditions that are intensified by fat should avoid sausages.
Canned Dog Food
Is your dog’s medicine in liquid form? Does your dog run away when he sees you bring out the bottle?
Well, here’s one benefit of canned food that will help save you the hassle.
Simply mix the medicine and a bit of the canned food. A few tablespoons is enough to mask the taste of the medication and ensure your pup gets their full dose.
It’s also possible to mix capsules in with canned food, but be sure to ask your vet beforehand if it’s okay to open them up and empty their contents — some medications need to stay intact.
Does your pup love peanut butter? If the answer is yes, then you’re in luck! The smell and rich taste can help mask the strong flavor of some liquid medications.
If you have to give your dog pills, first confirm with your vet whether they can be broken or crushed.
You can mix their medicine in with xylitol-free dog-safe peanut butter to give your pup an easy time.
Pro tip: Use creamy peanut butter. Dogs often chew crunchy varieties, making them more likely to taste the medicine and spit it out.
Just like with sausages, you can push hard tablets into soft dog treats before giving them to your pup.
This one works best when the treats are fresh, so they stay together and don’t fall apart once the pill is inside.
For this hack, use the smallest treat available so that your pup gobbles it up and spends less time chewing. This way, your dog is less likely to notice the pill.
Similarly, you can play a game of catch. Create a few balls of food and hide the medicine inside, then toss them to your pup one at a time so that they catch and swallow.
Start with food that doesn't contain any medicine to increase your chances of success. Toss your dog their treats at a constant speed — one with medicine, then one without… you get the gist.
This way, your pup's focus will be on catching the next bite and eating quickly so that they can keep up with your pace.
The food should be small enough for your pup to swallow in one gulp. If it’s too big, your dog may need to stop and chew, and so could notice the medicine hidden inside.
Be sure to maintain a pace that they can keep up with, and throw gently to give your pup an easy time catching the food.
Using cheese is a smart way to create a pill pocket for your dog. By molding the cheese to encase a pill or capsule completely, the medicine only gets minimal contact with your pup’s sensitive taste buds.
A small cube or a spoonful of cream cheese are good choices for pill pockets. Swiss, American, or cheddar are top options to help your doggo wolf down any foul-tasting medicine.
Some dogs experience digestive difficulties, so be sure to only choose these pill pockets if you are certain your dog’s tummy won’t be rumbling shortly after.
2. Use a Pill Device
Giving your dog pills by hand is not always a kind experience. Having to place the pill far back on your puppy's tongue and close their mouth to make sure they swallow poses certain risks.
If you’ve done this before and your pup hates it, you already know that it can lead to accidental bites.
Cue in pill devices.
These help place medicine in your dog's mouth and keep your fingers safe from danger.
Gently hold your dog's mouth and tilt it upwards, waiting for their lower jaw to drop. You can also use your fingers to gently pry open the pups upper jaw right behind their canines.
Every dog has a hump on their tongue. To successfully administer a pill, it needs to be placed behind the hump.
After doing so, gently rub your pup’s throat in a downward motion to help the pill go down easier.
To aid in this even more, you could squirt a little water in your dog's mouth before you close it to help them swallow.
However, it’s important to note that we wouldn't advise using this method if you’re scared your dog may bite you.
3. Wash Your Hands
A dog's sense of smell is 10,000 times better than that of a human.
As such, they can smell odors we can't — ranging all the way from explosives and drugs to their master’s scent.
You know what else they can smell?
Once they get a whiff of it on your hands, they’re likely to pick it up in whatever foods you've hidden it in.
A quick rinse with soapy water goes a long way when handling your pup’s medication — it can work well in masking its smell.
4. Combine Medicine With Your Daily Walk
Does your pup get super excited to go on walks?
This can be an excellent time to get them to take their medicine, because they get easily distracted by all that's happening around them.
With so much to see, smell, and hear, their focus on you becomes lacking — something you can take advantage of.
Their suspicion levels are low, thanks to the bustling surroundings. Carry a special treat with you on the walk to make the process of eating it easy and more exciting for your pup.
Don't rush the process, and don’t pre-prepare the medicine. You don't want your hidden pill to start dissolving inside the cheese or butter before you give it to them.
The time you decide to give the medicine will depend on your walking route. Choose a time when your pup is highly distracted — for example, at the dog park.
5. Pretend to Eat the Medicine
How many times has your pup attempted to do the same things you do?
Be it cuddles, handshakes, or eating… our canine companions are a part of our families after all. So, it's no surprise that they are automatically drawn to whatever we are eating.
Simply pretend to nibble on or eat the medicine they are eyeing in your hands. Make it as casual as possible, and take your time to ensure you arouse your pup’s curiosity.
Ideally, if your favorite spot to snack on is the couch, then replicate that scenario.
Prepare your dog’s treat and act like it's coming off of the same plate or bag you’re eating from.
Once you have your pups attention, don't be in a hurry to dish out the medicine. Hold until they’re reaching out to you.
At this point, when you hand over the medicine, your pup will be more likely to gratefully eat it all without a second thought.
Another idea is to “accidentally'' drop your pup’s medicated treat on the floor. They’ll think, ‘Hey, thanks for sharing!’ and dash for it before you stop them.
6. Trick for Treat
You can turn giving your dog their medicine into a whole activity. Why not teach your dog a few tricks in the process?
Give your pup their medicine every time they perform a trick. Using this method, they’re more likely to take their pill as they feel they’ve earned a reward.
This way, you aren’t forcing the medicine on them while also getting them to do a little exercise in the process. It’s a win-win situation.
7. Get Extra Help
If your pup hates taking their medicine and can be a handful during this process, ask a family member or friend to help.
It’s hard enough for you and your pup as is, so any extra pair of hands present to assist is a huge asset. This gives you the opportunity to concentrate fully on getting your dog completely healthy again.
It's Time to Reward Your Dog
We understand that taking care of your furry friend can sometimes be a troublesome process — especially when it comes to giving them their medicine.
This is a time that requires you to keep calm, regardless of how frustrating the experience may be. When you get agitated, so will your pup.
Our job is to make this journey easy, enjoyable, and less time-consuming. We offer our fellow dog parents a wide selection of dog treats and supplements of superb quality.
Our products are tasty, healthy, and easy on your pup’s taste buds:
All are carefully curated and manufactured under the highest U.S. and European food safety and quality standards.
Visit our shop today to view our vast collection.