So your vet has prescribed your dog with oral medications in the form of *gasp!* — PILLS. While there are lucky pet parents who have no problem giving pills to their dog, there are countless stories of those who have tried a variety of tricks up their sleeves just to be able to get their dog to take a pill, often to no avail.
You are not alone in this predicament. We hear you, which is why we have gathered some tips, tricks, and hacks on getting a dog to take a pill smoothly. But before we start, one more thing to mention.
Be mindful of your vet’s instructions
First and foremost, we pet parents need to understand and follow the directions that our vet has given when it comes to giving a pill. If your vet tells you that you should mix a mediation with a meal, we should do just that. On the other hand, the vet may prescribe a medicine that a dog should take on an empty stomach.
Another example is if you were told to give your dog a pill twice a day, which is different from when your vet asks you to give two pills once a day. You should be aware of all these nuances to avoid causing harm to your dog. Different medications have varying instructions, and how to give them to our dogs may also depend on their specific needs.
It is equally important to finish the prescription, especially when it comes to antibiotics. You shouldn’t combine some medications with other drugs or supplements. If you feel confused, it is best to clarify with your vet to avoid misunderstandings.
Tips and tricks on how to give a dog a pill
While you want to make sure that your dog takes their prescribed pills, it is essential to make it a positive experience nevertheless. You can do so by adding more treats, increasing playtime and exercise, among other options. Remember that it may also take practice, so patience is vital. Below are some of the tricks that you can apply when giving your dog a pill:
Hide the pill in your dog’s food
When it comes to how to get a dog to take a pill without them actually noticing, hiding the medicine in their food might just do the trick, especially if your dog has a healthy appetite. Generally, it’s best to choose food with strong flavors that can easily be lumped to hide the pill inside. Ideally, you should start giving a few pieces of the specific food or treat first before giving them the one with a tablet inside.
Give it just before their daily walk
Many dogs can’t contain their excitement when they know that you’re about to walk them. Because they’re distracted, this is an opportune time to give your dog a pill. You can give it as soon as you step out the door, or maybe at the park where he’ll be busy looking at the surroundings. Remember to bring some treats with you so you can use them together with the pill.
Pretend to eat the hidden pill
Whenever you are eating, you’ve probably noticed that your dog always wants what you are having. You can use this to your advantage. Hide the pill inside the food, and pretend to eat it. At this point, your dog is likely eagerly expecting or even begging you to give them some. It is the perfect time to plop the treat with the pill as your dog excitedly gobbles it up.
Invite their canine friend
If you have another dog, call them over for snack time. When there’s some competition for getting food, dogs tend to be more eager to eat. Give a few pieces to both of them first. Afterwhich, you can then give the snack with the pill to your dog.
Ask your vet for a palate-friendly pill
Nowadays, innovations have been made, including oral medications that are pleasant to your dog’s taste buds. If palate-friendly pills are available for the kind of medication your dog needs, especially if your dog is choosy when it comes to what to ingest, it may be the simplest way to medicate them.
Best food to hide dogs pill in
One of the most effective ways on how to get a dog to swallow a pill is hiding it in a well-loved food treat. If all goes well, Fido won’t be able to bite into the tablet and taste its bitterness upon ingesting it.
Do note that before you decide to use food to hide a pill, make sure that it’s okay to be given with that particular medicine. For example, tetracycline (a kind of antibiotic) should not be mixed with dairy products because calcium in dairy has binding properties that may prevent your dog from absorbing the full benefits of the medicine.
It might not be a good idea to use regular food that you serve your dog. How come? Because if ever your dog happens to bite into the pill inside it, they might start to avoid their food because they’ll be reminded of the last time when they tasted something bitter in it.
Below are some examples of the best foods to hide dog pills in:
The flavor of liverwurst is enticing for a lot of dogs. And because of its soft meat nature, you can easily roll it into a ball and insert the pill in the middle.
- Peanut Butter
Among the favorite treats of many canines, peanut butter is a good choice. It’s sticky, so you can easily hide a pill inside a dollop or ball of peanut goodness. Make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
To learn whether peanut butter and peanuts as a whole are fine for dogs, see here.
If you choose to give your doggo a pill with cheese, go for a soft, low in calories and sodium, sort such as mozzarella. Soft cheeses make it easy to insert a pill. You can make a ball of cheese and put the pill at the center. Although your Fido might cheat a bit, eating cheese and omitting a tablet as a whole, give it a try.
- Specialized treats
You can find several flavorful treats with holes inside them where you can easily insert pills. Cool, isn’t it? Not only do they come in a variety of tasty flavors, but most also contain balanced nutrition and lower amounts of sugar and sodium as compared to human food. It is best always to check labels and go for those with quality ingredients that would benefit your dog.
Just a tip: To avoid your dog getting suspicious, give the treat that contains the pill in the middle of giving the same treats without medication. Do so quickly as well to avoid them examining the treats.
How to give a dog a pill without food
If you’re wondering how to pill an uncooperative dog or how to get a dog to take a pill when he doesn’t want to eat, it’s best to do it the way vets do. But how exactly do they do it? Below are some techniques in simple steps:
Hold your dog securely (ideally with the help of another person, but you can also do it by yourself).
In a calm yet confident manner, hold your dog’s upper jaw and carefully lift it upwards.
By this time, your dog should be looking upwards. You will most likely observe that your dog’s lower jaw is a bit open. There a couple of options: a) Using your fingers, hold your dog’s upper jaw just behind their canines, causing their mouth to open. With the help of your other hand, insert the pill as far as you could inside your dog’s mouth. b) The other option is to use your hand with the pill in it, put your fingers beneath your dog’s teeth, and place the tablet as far as you can push.
Now, close your dog’s jaw and gently rub their throat.
What you want to happen is to be able to place the pill at the back of your dog’s tongue so that they will inevitably swallow the tablet. If your dog hasn’t swallowed the pill yet up to that point, use a syringe to squirt a little water further into your dog’s mouth for them to be encouraged to gulp the tablet with the water. Another option is to use a pill pusher that may be available at your veterinary clinic.