At some point, your dog will need to take medication for something. Whether it's antibiotics for an infection or medication to control a chronic condition, you need to know how to give a dog pills. Some dogs will easily take medicine when it's mixed with food, but some dogs can be much more difficult.
This guide won't just come in handy when you need to give your dog medication. You can use these tricks when you need to give your pup vitamins or supplements as well. There are some easy ways to disguise medication in food or treats, but sometimes that trick just won't work.
Most dogs will refuse to swallow pills, and you may have to force it down. There are a few tricks that can help you learn how to give a dog pills without having him spit them out. Just be careful and make sure that you do it properly, so you don't hurt your dog by accident.
How To Give A Dog Pills or Medication
1. Try Mixing with Food
The easiest way to give a dog pills is by mixing them into his 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.
It's easy to mix medication into canned dog food or homemade recipes. But, most pet owners feed dry kibble. So as I explain in my video above, I recommend using sliced deli meat to hide pills. It provides a strong odor and is easily malleable. You can wrap the meat around the pill, and your pup is likely to swallow it whole without even noticing the pill.
That said, if you're reading this article, you've probably already tried the “food method” and discovered that it doesn't work with your pooch. Maybe your dog is clever, or maybe he's just picky. Perhaps pill pockets will be a better option for your dog.
2. Pill Pockets
Pill pockets for dogs are special tasty treats that look like pill-holders, and are specifically made to wrap around medication. They are malleable, so you just slide the pill in and pinch both ends to conceal it. This seals in the pill, and it's rare that a dog would be able to smell the medication, or find a way to get it out.
I love using pill pockets. They are definitely the easiest way to hide a pill. Unfortunately, the main drawback of using pill pocket treats is their expensive cost.
Generally, dog pill treats are a great solution for pets that only need medication for a short period of time. But if your dog will be taking medicine or vitamins for a long, it won't be cost effective to feed him pill treats multiple times a day.
If you'd like to try pill pockets but you're on a limited budget, check out my recipe for homemade dog pill pocket treats.
Instead of mixing the whole pill in with your dog's food, try crushing the pill or emptying the gel capsule and mixing the medication in with the food.
As I demonstrate in my video guide above, 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 pet's meal. You may still need to use homemade or canned dog food to entice your pooch, or try adding some bone broth to make it a little extra tasty.
5. Force Feed the Medicine
If your pup is too clever to be tricked, you'll need to know how to give a dog pills the hard way. As a last resort, you can force the pill down your dog's throat. It's not bad for the dog at all, and it's not difficult for you 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.
Straddle your dog, like I do in my video. This will prevent him from being able to easily get away from you or move around while you're trying to give him his pill. You'll need to be quick, because you don't want your dog to jerk his head away or have time to push the pill out with his tongue.
Pry your dog's mouth open and place the pill as far back into his throat as you can without making him gag. Quickly close your pup's 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. You can see the full demonstration in my video above. I always like to give my dogs a treat after I give them a pill. It gives them something positive to associate with taking medicine, and it cheers them up.