Published On: Sun, Jan 10th, 2016

How to Give Your Stubborn Dog a Pill

craig profile imageBy Craig Davis, CEO and Chief Happiness Officer at

Good news: your veterinarian found the source of your pet’s illness, allergy, or general yuckiness.

Bad news: she prescribed a pill as the treatment.

So you try to place the pill in your dog’s mouth, but he just spits it out. You try hiding it in his food, but he coincidentally eats around it and never finishes his meal.

Before you start freaking out about how to get your dog to take his pills, just remember that a spoonful of sugar always makes the medicine go down.

See, your dog senses off-putting smells such as pills and medicine much stronger than we can. So the magic secret to getting your pet to take his pill may be covering it up with something as likable to dogs as sugar is to kids.

Whether it’s an antibiotic, antihistamine, or vitamin, sometimes we need to be a little sneaky to help the four-legged ones we love.

Sneaky Methods of Transportation

Unfortunately, you can’t put your dog’s pill on a spoon, make that choo-choo sound like you’re feeding a toddler, and hope he swallows it.

If you can break your pills apart or crush them, you may be able to mix them in your pet’s food during mealtimes.

Wrapping the pill in soft treats makes it easier to hide, just make sure the pieces are small enough to swallow without chewing. Slip Fido a few treats without medicine so he doesn’t associate the treats with that bitter pill and stop eating them.

You can also hide pills in

  • almond butter,
  • peanut butter,
  • a half-slice of cheese, or
  • cooked chicken,

as long as your pet doesn’t have food allergies to these items.  (You can also purchase ‘Greenies pill pockets‘ online.)

If your pet’s pills are bitter and untouchable, crush them up and put them into unflavored gelcaps from your pharmacy.

You may also put finely crushed pills into an oral syringe with water and squirt it far into your dog’s mouth.  

Watch this helpful video of Dr. Rod Winchester of Julington Creek Animal Hospital, demonstrating how to give your dog a pill.

Watch this helpful video of Dr. Rod Winchester of Julington Creek Animal Hospital, demonstrating how to give your dog a pill. Check out how he strokes the animal’s through to encourage swallowing, and gently gives water to help it go down.

If all else fails and you must give the pill by hand, be the alpha dog and take control. This means not hesitating, being nervous, or feeling guilty. Approach your dog when he is calm, pop open his mouth, and give him the pill. Keep your nails short so as not to scratch the mouth or throat. Reward him handsomely afterwards.

These techniques also work for giving a cat a pill, although you’re going to need to watch those claws if you’re not hiding their medicine in food.

Timing is Everything

It’s important to stick to a schedule in order to follow dosage instructions. Don’t skip doses and never double up if you miss a dose.

Give the pill when your pet’s guard is down. When he’s on your lap and relaxed, try to entice him with a treat containing his medicine. You can also take him on a walk on his leash where he’s distracted, cradle his chin upwards, and slip him a pill-laced treat.

Remember to make sure the dosage was eaten and not left in the bowl, on the couch, or on the sidewalk.

As with all interactions with your furry one, a good helping of loving strokes and verbal encouragement will do a lot towards getting the outcome you desire.


About the Author

- Craig is the founder of Vet Organics, where he and his team share additional pet-related articles on the company’s blog. Vet Organics is an eCommerce provider of EcoEars and an array of premium natural products dedicated to the health and wellness of pets.

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