There comes a time in every dog's life when he needs to take some kind of medication, vitamins or supplements. Whether it's an antibiotic for an infection or a dog supplement for canine joint health, you're going to need to know how to give a dog medicine in a proper and safe way.
Some dogs may be more willing to take their medicine very easily; however, most canines will refuse to take medicine, and you may have to force it down. There are a few tricks that may help you to learn how to give a dog medicine without having him to spit it out, and a few things you need to keep in mind when forcing pills in your dog.
In my video guide on how to give a dog medicine or pills I explain how you can do this in a proper way, what safety precautions to take and what you should avoid doing.
Remember that no matter which method you choose to get your pet to take his dog pills, you should keep the experience a positive one for him. This is important for future success of giving your dog pills.
Finally, don't get frustrated when pooch doesn't eat his medicine on the first try. It'll take time for you and your dog to learn how to give/take medicine pills. More on this below.
How To Give A Dog Medicine: A Video Guide
Mix the medicine with dog food or dog treats
The easiest way to learn how to give a dog medicine is to give it with his dog food. Wrapping the medicine in a food source with a strong odor will entice almost any dog. That's the oldest trick in the book, and most of the time, it works like a charm,.
As I explain in my video guide above, I like to use sliced deli meat. It provides a strong odor and is easily malleable. You can wrap the meat around your dog's medicine pills, and your dog is likely to swallow it whole without even noticing the pill.
If your dog is clever, like our boxer, he may figure out how to eat the food and spit the pill out. In this case, you'll have to get a little more creative. You can try using pill treats.
These special tasty dog treat pill-holders are specifically made to wrap around your pet's treats. They are pliable, so you just slide the pill in and pinch both ends to hide it. This seals in the pill, and it's rare that a dog would be able to smell the medication.
Personally, I love these dog pill pockets and they work perfectly well. However, there is no guarantee that your dog will enjoy the flavor and some pets do refuse to eat certain brands of treats.
The main drawback of using pill pocket treats is their cost.
Generally, dog pill treats are a great solution if your canine only needs to take medication or his dog supplements for a short period of time. But if your dog will be taking medicine or vitamins for a long period of time, it won't be cost effective to feed him pill treats multiple times a day.
A Game: An alternative way to give your dog pills
When doggy pill pouches/treats don't work, you can try playing a game with your canine. I like to call it the “1, 2, 3 Game“. Using three dog treats instead of just one, you can trick your dog into easily eating his medication. When learning how to give a dog medicine, you'll soon figure out that tricking the Fido can make your job much easier.
This “1, 2, 3 Game“ is very simple. Let's say that you're using deli meat. Instead of just one piece, use three pieces. Hide the pill in one piece. Give your dog a piece without the pill, then the piece with with pill, and finally the other piece with no pill.
Your dog may be suspicious at first, but he won't find a pill in the first piece. After testing the first one, he's likely to gobble up the other two piece without hesitation.
You can also use psychological tricks to give your dog medicine. One potential way is to use competition as a motivator. This works very well with majority of dogs.
For example, if you have more than one dog, feed the others a dog treat first. The dog that requires the medication will see other pets happily eat their treat, and he'll be more likely to gobble his stuff down in fear that one of the others may take it if he doesn't.
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If you're having a hard time getting your dog to eat pills wrapped in food, you can try adding the medicine to his dinner. If you feed your pet canned dog food or make your own homemade dog food, you may be able to simply mix the whole pill in with his food.
These diets are moist and are much more appealing than dry kibble. They also have a much stronger odor and specific consistency that will help to mask and hide the pill.
If you feed your dog dry kibble, which most of us do, this task is going to be a bit more difficult. Remember that when trying to learn how to give a dog medicine effectively, trickery is always your best bet. Instead of mixing the whole pill in with your dog's dry kibble, try crushing the pill or emptying the gel capsule and mixing it up.
Gel caps should pull apart in the center, allowing you to sprinkle the powder inside over your dog's food. You can throw the capsule part away – it contains no active ingredients.
If your dog has to take traditional pills, crush them with the backside of a spoon or a butter knife and sprinkle the powder over your dog's meal. You may still need to use homemade or canned dog food to entice your pooch, but crushing the pill should make learning how to give a dog medicine much easier.
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Force feed the medicine
Most dogs will take their medication willingly via one of the options above.
However, if your dog is too clever to be tricked, you'll need to force him to take his medicine. When you need to learn how to give a dog medicine effectively, this is the worst case scenario and your last resort. Try everything I suggested above before this approach.
Our boxer Chloe takes more than 5 pills every day. As I mentioned in one of my podcast episodes, she has a heart condition that requires prescription medication as treatment. She used to fall for all of our tricks, but that doesn't work anymore.
If your pup is like Chloe, don't worry. You can force the pill down your dog's throat, and it really isn't that bad. After all, you're doing this for his benefit. It's also not difficult to do. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to force the medicine pills down your dog's throat quickly and painlessly, without causing any stress for either one of you.
Instead, I prefer to lay my Chloe on her side, as you'll see in my video guide above, and gently open her mouth.
Either way you go about giving your dog pills, when you open your pet's mouth, your dog is going to try to pull away and his tongue will start moving rapidly. It's a natural reaction and most dogs will respond to your actions this way.
Therefore, you'll need to be quick about this. You don't want your pooch to flick the pill out of his mouth with his tongue, which they can easily do. Pry his mouth open and place the pill as far back into his throat as you can without making your dog gag.
Quickly close his mouth and then rub his throat from his chin down his neck. This will elicit a natural swallowing reaction in your pooch. After he swallows a few times, the pill will be gone and your job will be done. This is all demonstrated in the video above.
I always like to give my Chloe a healthy dog treat after I give her a pill as a reward. It gives her something positive to associate with taking medicine and it cheers her up!
Giving your dog liquid medication
If your Fido has been prescribed a liquid medication, you'll follow a similar routine when giving him this medicine. Instead of having to force a pill down your dog's throat, you'll just squirt the liquid in his mouth and his natural reaction will be to swallow it.
To do this, follow the same instructions I've outlined above and shown you in my video. Basically, lay your dog on his side or straddle him while he's standing. Again, I prefer giving our dogs their medicine when they are lying down for everyone's ease and comfort.
Next, lift your pet's cheek, and you'll see a pocket that forms between the back teeth and the cheek. This is where you are going to want to inject your dog's liquid medicine.
Make sure you have all your supplies ready before opening your dog's mouth.
When you're ready, have a filled syringe with the correct dosage of your dog's medicine and squirt it directly into the pocket that forms in the back of his mouth.
As soon as your dog feels the liquid enter his mouth, his natural reaction will be to swallow. If you have the option of choosing liquid medication or pills, liquid is probably the best bet. It's usually slightly easier to give a dog a liquid medicine rather than trying to get him to swallow a pill.