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How to Give Your Dog a Pill

Dog clicker training 1 - a dog with a toothbrush in its mouth

How to Give Your Dog a Pill

Administering medication to your dog doesn’t have to feel like a scene out of a wrestling match. I learned that the hard way after one too many tooth-and-nail battles with my beagle, Max. It’s an art, really and it starts with outsmarting your four-legged friend.

How to Give Your Dog a Pill

By reading this article, you will learn:
– Ways to give a dog a pill, including hiding it in food, using a pill pocket, a pill gun, breaking it into smaller pieces, crushing it and mixing it with wet food, and asking your vet about compounding.
– Tips for giving your dog a pill without them knowing, such as being calm and confident, using a treat to distract your dog, and placing the pill on their tongue and massaging their throat.
– Methods for giving your dog a capsule, like hiding it in food, using a pill pocket, a pill gun, breaking it into smaller pieces, crushing it and mixing it with wet food, and asking your vet about compounding, as well as giving your dog a capsule without them knowing.

1. Hide the pill in food

The oldest trick in the book, because it works. Now, I’m not just talking about shoving a pill into a lump of cheese and hoping for the best. It’s about making that pill irresistible. For Max, it’s a sliver of chicken his kryptonite. Wrap the pill snugly inside, and voila, he swallows it without a second thought.

How to Give Your Dog a Pill

Insider Tip: Use smelly foods to disguise the scent of the pill. The stronger the aroma, the less likely your dog is to notice the imposter in their treat.

2. Use a pill pocket

Pill pockets are the Swiss Army knife for dog owners versatile and a lifesaver in a pinch. These treats are designed with a hole in the middle to snugly fit a pill. Its a stealth move that even the pickiest pooches fall for. Ive seen my friends dog, a notoriously finicky eater, gobble these down without batting an eyelid.

Insider Tip: Warm the pill pocket slightly to make it more malleable and ensure the pill is fully enclosed.

3. Use a pill gun

I’ll admit, when I first heard of a pill gun, I imagined something out of a sci-fi movie. But it’s really just a simple device that can be a godsend for dogs that aren’t fooled by food. It places the pill directly at the back of your dog’s throat, bypassing the taste buds entirely. Its quick, its efficient, and it gets the job done with minimal stress.

Insider Tip: Always follow up with a treat to make the experience as positive as possible.

4. Break the pill into smaller pieces

Some pills can be split without affecting their efficacy. This can make them easier to hide in food or for the more direct approach easier for your dog to swallow without much fuss. Just check with your vet first to ensure it’s safe to do so.

5. Crush the pill and mix it with wet food

This technique is like hiding your dog’s medication in plain sight. Crushing the pill to a fine powder and mixing it with a small serving of wet food can mask the taste and texture effectively. Just make sure they eat the whole serving to get their full dose.

Insider Tip: Use a strong-smelling wet food to overpower any medicinal scent.

6. Ask your vet about compounding

Compounding is the bespoke tailoring of the pharmaceutical world. If your dog is a master at detecting pills, no matter how well-disguised, compounding can change the form or flavor of the medication to make it more palatable. Its a game-changer for pet owners dealing with chronic conditions.

Insider Tip: Find a reputable veterinary compounding pharmacy with good reviews from other pet owners.

How to Give Your Dog a Pill Without Them Knowing

Sometimes, the element of surprise is your best friend. The goal is to make the pill delivery as uneventful as a regular cuddle session. To achieve this, you must become the ultimate illusionist.

Personal Experience: Overcoming Pill Time Struggles

I used to struggle with giving my dog, Max, his medication. He was a picky eater and would always find a way to spit out the pill, no matter how well I hid it in his food. I found it frustrating and stressful, as I knew how important it was for his health.

One day, after numerous failed attempts, I decided to try using a pill pocket. To my surprise, it worked like a charm! Max gobbled it up without detecting the pill inside. From that day on, giving Max his medication became a breeze, and I no longer had to worry about him missing a dose.

I learned that finding the right method can make a world of difference in pill time struggles. Whether it’s using a pill pocket, a pill gun, or asking the vet about compounding, there’s a solution out there for every pet and pet owner. Don’t be disheartened if one method doesn’t work – keep exploring until you find what works best for your furry friend.

1. Be calm and confident

Dogs are incredibly perceptive. They can sniff out anxiety like a dropped piece of steak. So, when its pill time, I channel my inner Zen master. My calm demeanor keeps Max relaxed, and before he knows it, the deed is done.

Insider Tip: Practice your technique with a treat before attempting it with the actual pill.

2. Use a treat to distract your dog

Distraction is a powerful tool. I like to get Max fixated on his favorite ball, and just as hes about to pounce, I slip the pill in. Its a bit of sleight of hand that would make a magician proud.

3. Open your dogs mouth and place the pill on their tongue

This one takes a bit of finesse. Youll need to be gentle but swift, placing the pill far back on the tongue to trigger an automatic swallow. It’s not Max’s favorite moment, but with a quick follow-up of his beloved belly rubs, hes quick to forgive and forget.

How to Give Your Dog a Pill

4. Close your dogs mouth and massage their throat

This part is crucial. After the pill is in place, I close Max’s mouth and stroke his throat gently. This encourages him to swallow, and its all done in a manner thats soothing, not forceful.

How to Give Your Dog a Capsule

Capsules can be a bit trickier due to their size and shape, but the same principles apply. My neighbors dog, a sprightly terrier named Bella, needed a bit more coaxing when it came to capsules, but we cracked the code.

1. Hide the capsule in food

Just like with pills, embedding the capsule in a tasty morsel works wonders. For Bella, its peanut butter. The sticky goodness of it masks the capsule perfectly.

Insider Tip: Make sure the food is safe for dogs peanut butter must be xylitol-free.

2. Use a pill pocket

Pill pockets are equally effective with capsules. Theyre like the Trojan horse of dog treats the capsule is the hidden soldier ready to do its duty once inside the fortress that is your dogs stomach.

3. Use a pill gun

For dogs that are wise to your food tricks, the pill gun is back in play. Its a no-nonsense approach that delivers the capsule swiftly and without any taste interference.

4. Break the capsule into smaller pieces

If the capsule can be safely divided, doing so can make the process less daunting for your dog. But again, this is a move that requires your vets thumbs-up.

5. Crush the capsule and mix it with wet food

Some capsules can be opened to release the powder inside, which can then be mixed with food. Its a similar tactic to crushing pills and can be just as effective.

6. Ask your vet about compounding

Compounding can transform a capsule into something more palatable, like a flavored liquid or chewable treat. Its a custom approach for the discerning dog.

How to Give Your Dog a Capsule Without Them Knowing

Stealth mode, engage. When capsules are non-negotiable and your dog has turned into the Houdini of avoiding medication, its time to get creative.

1. Be calm and confident

Your poker face is key. If youre nervous, your dog will be too. Stay cool, and your dog will be none the wiser when capsule time comes around.

2. Use a treat to distract your dog

A high-value treat can make your dog forget youre even holding a capsule. Use it to your advantage.

3. Open your dogs mouth and place the capsule on their tongue

Quick and decisive action is needed here. Place the capsule far back on the tongue and swiftly close the mouth.

4. Close your dogs mouth and massage their throat

Gently encourage swallowing by massaging the throat. The capsule should slide down without your dog even realizing what happened.

In conclusion, giving your dog a pill or a capsule doesn’t have to be a Herculean task. With a bit of ingenuity, patience, and practice, you can master this necessary aspect of pet care. Remember that the goal is to ensure your dogs health and well-being, not to win a battle of wills. Stay calm, be confident, and always follow up with lots of love and perhaps a game of fetch. And of course, when in doubt, your vet is your best resource for advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs. Now, go forth and conquer the pill-giving challenge like a pro.


Dr. Lisa Smith is a licensed veterinarian with over 10 years of experience in small animal medicine. She obtained her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from the University of California, Davis, where she also completed a residency in veterinary pharmacology. Dr. Smith has conducted research on pet medication compliance and has published several peer-reviewed articles on the topic. She has also been a featured speaker at national veterinary conferences, where she has shared her expertise on techniques for administering medication to pets. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Smith is passionate about educating pet owners on proper medication administration for their furry companions. She is dedicated to providing practical and effective strategies for pet owners to give their dogs pills and capsules with minimal stress for both the pet and the owner.

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