How To Get Your Dog To Take A Pill

Some dog owners are lucky, as their dogs will scarf down their pills when they eat their dog food. Others are not as fortunate and have to rely on other means to get their dogs to take medication or supplements that come in pill form.

If the medication can be given with food, many times the pill can be wrapped, or placed in a “pocket” in the food and given to your dog. However, this works best for dogs who tend to gulp down treats without chewing. For dogs who like to chew their treats, they may bite down on the pill and get an unpleasant taste, causing them to spit out the medicine.

For dogs that won’t swallow pills, sometimes you can get the medication compounded into a chewable treat. Check with your veterinarian on this.

Some owners elect to hold the pill in their fingers and open the dog’s jaws with one hand while placing the pill as far back onto the dog’s tongue as they can. This can be very effective if you can get the pill over the natural “hump” in the dog’s tongue. Once the pill is placed, simply stroke the outside of the dog’s throat in a downward directed motion to facilitate him swallowing the pill. 

With this method, there is a risk that you could be exposing your fingers to a bite from your dog. There are pill devices, which hold the pill and enable you to place the medication over the hump in your dog’s tongue without danger to your fingers.

If you have never given medication to your dog this way, ask your veterinarian to demonstrate for you, as this can be helpful in seeing just how it’s done.

Once your dog has successfully taken the pill, be sure to reward her with a small treat. Use a treat reward after every pill to make the experience as pleasurable as possible for you and your dog.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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