6 Tips for Giving Your Dog Medication

veterinarian offering pill to a chocolate lab

Giving your dog medication is an adventure. It can also become a series of misadventures. It’s sometimes difficult to get a dog to take the medication they need easily, which may require you to get creative. Since you can’t explain to your dog why it’s important for them to cooperate, you have to figure out what works for you and for them without causing them undue stress. Here are some tips for giving your dog medication:

1. Hide it in Food

As long as it works with your dog, hiding a pill in their food is one of the easiest ways to give your dog medication. You can use a pill capsule or pill pocket to help hide any flavors or smells associated with the pill to make it easier for your dog to take it with their food.

Some dogs will also take a pill more easily if it’s wrapped in a small piece of cheese, treat, or other delicious soft food. This works for some dogs and not for others. Some dogs will eat around the pill or spit it out later. For those dogs, you’ll have to try something else.

Use Competition to Your Advantage

Some dogs will eat faster and won’t think too much about what’s in the food when they are around other dogs. So, if you have more than one dog and they don’t exhibit food aggression, you can try using competition to your advantage.

When one or more of your dogs need to take a pill, gather them all together for a treat. Give treats to all of your dogs while they are gathered together with a pill hidden in the “treat” for the dog, or dogs, that need medication. This may result in them taking the pill a little easier.

Try the Sandwich Method

If competition doesn’t work or you only have one dog, you can try using the sandwich method. Using this method, you give your dog a few treats where some are plain and one, or some, have medication. Start by giving them some plain treats with no medication in them, followed by the treat or treats with the medication, and then ending with another plain treat or two.

Using this method can help distract them from what is in some of the treats as they are too excited about receiving the treats to care. It can also keep them from noticing that one or two of the treats are different because they are hidden among plain treats.

2. Stay Calm and Reward Them

If you can’t hide it in their food or in treats, giving your dog medication can become a stressful situation for you both, But, that’s the last thing you want. So, it’s important to stay calm, soothe your dog throughout the process, and then reward them with a treat after every pill. This can help remove the stress and, hopefully, make it easier to give your dog a pill in the future.

3. Use a Pill Administration Device

If you can’t hide your dog’s pill in their food, you can try using a pill administration device. These devices go by a few names and could be called a pill device, pill popper, pill gun, or pill dispenser. They are generally shaped like a syringe and allow you to push or insert a pill in your dog’s mouth without needing to stick your fingers in their mouth.

Not only is this a great solution for dogs with smaller mouths, but it also reduces the risk of an accidental bite. Plus, it helps you get the pill over the hump of your dog’s tongue, so they can’t spit it out as easily. You can use this device to place the pill in your dog’s mouth, then gently close your dog’s jaws to encourage them to swallow. You can also gently stroke downward on your dog’s throat or gently blow air on their face while closing their jaws to further encourage them to swallow the medication.

4. Enlist Another Pair of Hands

If your dog is particularly squirmy or is a large dog breed, it can help to ask someone else for assistance and get another pair of hands involved. Having another pair of hands available to hold your dog, restrain them, soothe them, and more can help make giving your dog medication an easier process.

5. See if Their Medication Comes in Other Forms

If your dog is notoriously difficult when it comes to taking pills, ask your vet if their medication is available in a different form. Some medications are available in a pill, chewable compound, and a liquid.

Depending on what would be easier for your dog to take, you may be able to try a softer, chewable version of their medication or try using a syringe to squirt the liquid in their mouth. Some liquid medications may be injectable, which can be an easier way for some owners to give their dogs the necessary medications.

6. Ask Your Vet for Tips

If giving your dog their medication has become difficult, you can also ask your vet for tips or for a demonstration. Getting some expert advice or seeing how they would do it can help you adjust your own process to make things easier for both you and your dog.

Some dogs take medication well and others not-so-well. With these tips for giving your dog medication, it should become an easier and less stressful process for you both.