How To Get A Dog To Take A Pill

Dogs typically pose a bit more of a challenge to taking their meds than we do and can be likened to children in this aspect. It can be done with a bit of intuition and a lot of patience.

How To Get A Dog To Take A Pill?

Be persistent but remain subtle, if you are too obvious with your intentions, your pooch will suss you out.

If they know your objective, it is likely they will become even more stubborn and make the process more difficult.

So what do we do? Luckily every dog has a solution, it may take some trial and error but you will get there in the end once you find the best method for you and your canine companion.

Some tried and tested techniques are explored below to assist you in your seemingly endless mission to get your dog to take their pills and get better;  

Mix It Up

This may seem like an obvious one but sometimes, the old ones are the best. Cutting the pills up into manageable pieces or even crushing them into powder (if possible) can really help.

This makes them easier to swallow and less off-putting for your pooch. If they still won’t take them directly this way, it is time to trick them. 

Hide or disguise the pills in amongst their food, mix it up and act normally (as in don’t stand over them watching them eat it unless you make a habit of this!)

Your dog is an intelligent creature and will immediately know something is up.

Your suspicious behavior will alert them to something being different rather than them just devouring their meal without thinking about it. 

Treat It Differently

Not that we are rewarding their ignorance or non-compliance but a treat may help in this situation.

Creating a pill pocket for the medication by opening the treat and placing the pill or fragment of pill split amongst several treats before feeding them to the dog can work.

Make it easy to slip into your dog’s system by subtly placing it on their tongue. Remember that this approach works best for dogs that wolf down treats without chewing.

Dogs that chew soft treats may bite into the unpleasant-tasting medicine, making them harder to trick next time, so be careful!

Using Liquid Or Compounded Medications

Certain veterinarians enable you to opt for a flavored compounded medication to help your animal. 

These chewable “treat” tablets work well for dogs that don’t like to swallow their pills but there are inevitably downsides to this option.

For instance, these medications can be more expensive, depending on the drug, and your vet may voice caution against compounding particular drugs as it is known to negatively affect their impact on occasion.

Also, medications are not always compounded at every pharmacy. Check with your veterinarian about certain pharmacies that are noted for compounding medications safely before preceding. 

Not To Their Taste

There is now an increasing number of ‘palatable’ tablets available, these are nicer tasting tablets for animals.

This is more so the case for dogs than cats in terms of current medication and if your dog isn’t particularly fussy about their food, this can be the most painless and hassle-free way of medicating them.

Be careful where you store them as they can be really enticing due to the increased attractive taste and your pooch may steal more than theft should if they are within reach.

Innovative Technology

Administering pills to any animal can pose certain risks, the chances of being bitten rise considerably during this process.

For example, you need to put your fingers in their mouth in order to get the pill far enough back on your dog’s tongue for them to swallow, This can lead to discomfort, panic, and accidental bites.

Innovative pill devices reduce the risk and decrease the chances of getting nipped by placing the medication in your dog’s mouth. 

Using this technology and support basically means that you don’t have to expose your fingers to danger.

They are relatively easy to use and the process can be achieved by placing the device on the hump of a dog’s tongue.

Gently stroke their throat in a downward motion to encourage them to swallow the pill once it is in position and you have closed their jaws shut.

Strength In Numbers

There is nothing wrong with a little help, whether that comes from a family member, friend or neighbor.

Restraining a dog while also trying to give him medication is challenging to say the least and can be a thankless task.

If possible, ask someone to hold your dog for you, so that you can concentrate fully on the task at hand. If that fails, you can always seek further advice in terms of a demonstration from your veterinarian. 

Put Yourself In Their Paws

If you imagine the situation at the vets, everything is designed to maximize the vet’s chance of success. 

Therefore failing to replicate this situation at home is no reflection on you as an owner. The vet can often succeed during their demonstration because; 

  • As they are shut in a consulting room, your dog can’t escape
  • They are placed on the table so they are easy to reach and handle properly if your dog is small or medium-sized
  • The vet will be talking to you and then just pop in the tablet when everyone (dog included) is distracted. There is little drama in preparation and usually at home there is a sense of panic.
  • They will get a colleague to support if things are slightly tenser, an extra pair of hands to help. This is not a luxury you always have at home

Final Thoughts

If your vet has prescribed your dog pills, it’s certainly for their benefit. However, it’s not uncommon to hear that a dog won’t take pills.

The way you choose to give your dog a pill depends on your dog and how willing they are to eat things they don’t want.

There are a number of different options available and some will work better for some dogs than others.

Try to make sure the end result is always something positive whether that is more treats, a walk, or some extra playtime and TLC.

Whichever route you choose to use, bear in mind that successfully getting your dog to take a pill takes practice.

If you are unsure about how to give a dog a pill, always check with the professionals rather than keep attempting methods or techniques that do not work.

This can cause unnecessary distress for the animal and can be extremely draining for you too.