How to Get Your Dog to Take Pills

We all want to keep our dogs healthy and make sure their take their pet supplements. However, more often than not, our pets will give us a hard time when it comes to taking dog supplements or dog medicine, let alone having to go to a vet for a checkup. So how to get your dog take pills in order to keep his diet in order?

Supplements for dogs are becoming more popular, given the health benefits they provide our pets with. Every dog needs to take pills at one time or another, but getting your Fido to swallow a pill can be a very frustrating task. Some dogs will eat anything you put in front of them, including any type of pet medication, but that isn’t normally the case.

Then how to get your dog to take pills? Obviously the easiest way is to get your pooch to eat a pill while hide it in his dog food. This may work for a small percentage of canines, but most dogs will sniff out the pill and not eat their dog food, or only eat the food around the pill and leave the pill sitting in the bowl.

Pet owners who have these clever dogs who already know your tricks will have a harder time giving their pets pills. You need to be trickier than that and outsmart your canine when trying to figure out how to give your dog a pill. Here are a few ideas you can employ.

FULL GUIDE: How To Give A Dog Medicine and Vitamins – Actionable Tips

How to Get Your Dog to Take Pills?

giving a dog supplements

Use smelly dog food to your advantage

Still, masking your dog's supplements and pills in food is one of the easiest ways to make sure your canine consumes it. You just need to be more crafty than simply leaving a pill on top of your dog's food.

Even if your dog normally loves cheese, the mild odor may not be enough to mask the smell of the pill. Thus, choose something with a stronger odor that will be more appealing to your pet like lunch meat.

Also, remember to wrap the pill so there is only a thin layer of food over it. The smaller you can make the “treat,” the more likely it will be that your dog will swallow it without chewing.

RELATED: How I Give My Dog Essential Supplements She Doesn't Like

You can also wrap your dog's pill in something that is easy to throw to your dog. Catching the food will be entertaining for the dog, and the treat itself will be a reward, so your canine may not even think about chewing it up to look for the pill.

There are also certain special pill-holding dog treats that you can buy if you're tired playing with your dog's food. However, those will often be more expensive than your regular dog treats. Greenies is one of the more well-known companies that make these. Our editor Samantha has reviewed these dog treats before.

If your dog enjoys these types of pet treats, they could make things a lot easier if your pet only has to take pills once in a while. Dog owners who have a pet that takes medication every day will find that these treats can get a little pricey. If that’s the case, try experimenting with lots of different foods first to see if you can find something that your pet will enjoy.

You can employ a mix of different techniques if your dogs only need to take medication once in a while. Try using another common trick to get him to eat his pills: when you get three or four dog treats ready and only hide the medication in one of them, it will be fairly simple to confuse your dog.

Start by giving your canine two or three pet treats with nothing in them. He’ll probably figure that none of these doggy treats have pills in them and begin swallowing the treats whole or barely chewing them. By the time you get to the treat with the pill in it, he won’t know the difference.

This trick only works if your dog rarely has to take pills, however. If he takes medication or dog supplements and vitamins daily, this trick should not be used. Not only will this stop working after a while, but your dog will be eating a lot of treats and it will have a negative effect on his weight and health if you make this an everyday occurrence.

RELATED: Vet Recommended Safe Dog Treats for Snacking

dog is smelling a doggy pill

Request flavored dog medication

Many common dog medications and supplements come in flavored chewable forms now. They are typically beef or chicken flavored and many dogs will take them just like treats. However, some dogs can still tell that it is medicine and will avoid eating these treats.

Even if this is the case with your dog, combining a flavored doggy pill with human food or wet dog food makes it almost impossible for your dog to smell the medication and makes it much more likely that he will eat the “treat” without trying to spit out the pill.

You can also try giving your dog his medication while he is distracted. Giving him his chewable medicine while out for a walk or during a trip to the dog park is a great example. He’ll be so busy thinking about everything that is going on around him that he won’t stop to think about anything and he’ll just gobble the treat.

RELATED: How to Use Pet Treats to Keep Your Dogs Happy

Crush your dog's pills

When chewable doggy treats and flavored dog medications don’t work, you can try crushing up the pills and mixing them with your dog’s food. If he eats dry kibble, you can add a small amount of water or broth to the kibble to moisten it and allow the powder to stick to the dog food.

It’s easiest to use the back of a spoon to crush the medication for your pooch, but be sure to do it on a plate or cutting board so you can scrape as much of the medicine into your dog’s food as possible.

However, be aware of what veterinarians say about how to get your dog to take a pill and especially about crushing a pill to give it to a pet:

“Crushing pills is only reserved for the veterinarian or the pharmacist to compound the medication into a substance that will support a ‘crushed' pill. If your veterinarian did not state to crush the medicine, then don't. Many medications work in different ways, and disrupting the actual pill may cause the medication to be of no benefit or, diminish the effectiveness of the medication.” – Patty Hug, VT

RELATED: 59 Most Popular Puppy Food Brands

When all else fails…

Finally, if food and dog treats are not working, there is only one way to make sure that your dog gets the medication that he needs. You will have to insert it into his mouth yourself and make sure he swallows it. To do this, you can either use your fingers or buy a pet pill dropper.

Dog pill droppers, such as this one, are small devices that look like a big syringe. Whether you choose a pill dropper or just use your fingers, all you have to do is tilt your dog’s head back, drop the pill into the back of his mouth, and then hold his mouth closed while you massage his neck.

The massaging action will make your dog feel the need to swallow. Hold his mouth closed until you feel him swallow the pill. Be sure to praise him or give him a dog treat after you finish so he will associate taking his medicine with positive consequences.

Need more help with dogs? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for great videos with tips.

FULL GUIDE: How To Give A Dog Eye Drops – Step-by-Step Instructions

Disclosure: We may earn affiliate commissions at no cost to you from the links on this page. This did not affect our assessment of products. Read more here and find full disclosure here.

Dom Naish is a Phoenix-based writer, vegan, cupcake addict and dog lover. Years in the animal rescue trenches have taught him every aspect of dog ownership from behavioral problems, personality and breed specific trait differences of all dogs.