There may come a time when your pup has to start taking pills. Giving your dog a pill might sound easy, but getting them to swallow it is a whole different story. Finicky pups have been known to spit out pills or eat around ones tossed in with their regular food. Stick the pill in your dog’s mouth, and they might chomp down on your fingers!
There are easier ways to give your dog their medication or supplements. Treats, chewables and tons of praise can persuade even the pickiest of pups to cooperate with their pet parents. Try out these tips on how to administer pills to your dog.
- Hide the pill in a treat: One of the most effective ways to administer pills is by concealing them in soft dog treats. Foods like peanut butter, sweet potato and cheese can mask the texture and unpleasant taste of medication. Many dog food companies even make pill pockets, which are soft treats that mold around pills. Hiding the pill in a treat works best for dogs that swallow soft food without chewing it first. If your dog bites into the pill and spits it out, you may have to try a different approach.
- Request a liquid formula: Many pet pharmacies can turn pills into a compounded liquid formula or offer a liquid version, instead. Compounded medication is made with flavors like chicken or beef, so your dog doesn’t have to swallow an unpleasant-tasting pill. Plus, liquid formulas are easier to administer to dogs because they blend well into wet food. Mix the appropriate dose of liquid medication into a small amount of canned dog food. Feeding them a small amount will ensure they ingest all the medication.
- Use a dropper or syringe: Aside from mixing it into canned food, you can administer a liquid formula by inserting it directly into your dog’s mouth. This might be the better option if the medication or supplement cannot be taken with food. Tinctures usually come with a built-in dropper that lets you easily place a couple drops on your dog’s tongue. Syringes are great for liquid medication because they fit between your dog’s cheeks and teeth. They help a dog swallow their medication by applying it to the back of the mouth.
- Administer with a pill gun: There are special tools for administering pills, too. If hiding the pill in a treat doesn’t work, you could try inserting it directly into your dog’s mouth. Some pet parents use their fingers. While this method can work, a scared or defensive pup might accidentally bite them. Pill guns are a much safer way to administer medication and supplements to your dog. Similar to a syringe, a pill gun fits between their jaws and places the pill at the back of the mouth. If you place the pill far back enough, your pup will have no choice but to swallow it.
- Crush the pill into food: Pill guns might be too invasive for some dogs. Pet stores also sell pill crushers that make it easier to swallow solid medication and supplements. These devices grind pills into a fine powder, which you can stir into a small amount of wet or dry food. When pills are converted into their powder form, they’re much harder to spit out or separate from the rest of the food. Again, check to make sure you can serve food with the medication or supplement.
- Ask your vet about chewables: Many dogs hate swallowing pills and find the activity tolerable at best. Taking medication and supplements can be an enjoyable experience for your dog when you offer them a tasty chewable treat. These healthy bites blend all the necessary nutrients into a soft, palatable treat infused with flavors your dog will love. Many pet pharmacies offer medication in the form of chewables. They’re also available as daily supplements that promote your dog’s heart, skin, kidney and brain health.
- Create a positive experience: Whether you give medication in pill, liquid or chewable form, the process will go much smoother when you turn it into a positive experience. Give your pup lots of praise as you administer the medication or supplement. It’s important to stay calm and speak in a quiet, gentle voice, as well. When you’re calm, your dog is more likely to be calm, too. After they’ve successfully swallowed it, reward your dog with treats, toys and more praise.
Your dog doesn’t have to be scared of taking pills. It’s a part of their daily routine, and they deserve to enjoy it as much as eating meals or going for walks. Luckily, pet parents have many options that make pills easy to swallow. Taking medication or supplements might even become your dog’s favorite part of the day!