How can I force my dog to take a pill down? Here’s What to Do Next

How to give a dog a pill if they will eat

1. Ask for a pleasant-tasting tablet There are now an increasing number of ‘palatable’ tablets available – more so for dogs than cats – and if your dog isn’t particularly fussy about their food, this can be the most painless and hassle-free way of medicating them. N.B. The whole point of these tablets is they are ‘tasty’ so it is very important not to leave these within your pet’s reach.

2. Use food to hide dog pills in Some dogs, especially the very food motivated ones, can be tempted to eat their pills in some form of treats. There are now special, strongly flavoured, dog pill pocket treats on the market specifically to allow you to pop the pill in the treat and then into your dog. If using a homemade alternative, the best foods to hide dog pills in should generally be a bit ‘sticky’ so that they cling to the tablet and mask the flavour well. Things such as butter, cucumber or lumps of ham are commonly used tactics. It is best to start out with a few empty treats before you load them up.

My dog won’t take pills, what can I do?

There are a number of tricks for giving dogs pills. Try to make sure the end result is always something positive – be that more treats, a walk or some play. 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, here are a few options:

Restraining Your DogIt’s often a good idea to have another person keep your dog still while you administer the medicine. But you can do it alone if there’s no one to assist you. If you have a small dog, you can start by placing your dog in your lap. Put one arm—the one you will use to hold the head—over your pet’s shoulders, and use your upper arm and elbow to help keep her still, without using excessive force. If your dog won’t stay in your lap, or is too big, you can use the same method while seated on the floor, either holding the front of your dog’s body partially against your body or on your lap. If you have a large dog, you can stand behind her and have her sit back against your legs. Sometimes it helps to back your dog into a corner. If your dog struggles, talk to her calmly and stop what you’re doing if she becomes extremely agitated. Contact your veterinarian if you have questions or difficulty administering any medication.

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Willard Vet Tutorial: Giving your dog pills made easy

A spoonful of sugar might help our medicine go down, but dogs typically pose a bit more of a challenge. While some canine companions dutifully eat their pills with dinner, most tend to need a little encouragement. These tips for giving your dog a pill will make the process more pleasant for everyone involved.

Not all medication can be given with food. But if it can, putting the pill in a pill pocket or wrapping it in a piece of cheese makes it easy to slip into your dog’s system. Keep in mind 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. It should be noted that dogs with food sensitivities or allergies might have issues with the ingredients in pill pockets, so consult your veterinarian if your canine companion has had problems with food in the past.

Sometimes you can opt for a flavored compounded medication or a chewable “treat” tablet. This works well for dogs that don’t like to swallow their pills. However, these medications can be more expensive — depending on the drug — and your veterinarian may caution against compounding certain drugs because it could impact their effectiveness. Also, medications are not always compounded at every pharmacy. Ask your veterinarian to guide you to pharmacies that are noted for compounding medications.

Administering pills to your dog can pose certain risks. For instance, in order to get the pill far enough back on your dog’s tongue for him to swallow, you need to put your fingers in his mouth. This can lead to accidental bites. Pill devices place the medication in your dog’s mouth, so that you don’t have to expose your fingers to danger. A dog’s tongue has a hump, and in order to succeed in getting him to swallow the pill, you need to place it behind the hump. Once you’ve done that, close his jaws and gently stroke his throat in a downward motion to encourage him to swallow the pill.

Restraining a dog while also trying to give him medication is difficult. If possible, ask a friend or family member to hold your dog for you, so that you can concentrate fully on the task at hand.

The last thing you want is to make this process stressful. Reward your dog with a small treat after every pill, and do your best to keep both of you calm, no matter how frustrated you get.