Pretty much all dogs will need to take some form of medication in their lifetime. Whether it is a prescription medication, or you want to give your dog worming tablets/joint supplements, you will probably need help.
It isn’t as easy as them taking a drink of water to swallow it down, either. And, not every tablet can be given with food, which further complicates things.
But not to worry. We have a guide on how to give your dog medication, whatever the form.
How to give your dog a tablet
The trick to giving your dog a tablet is to make them eat it so quickly that they don’t chew into the tablet and realise you’re trying to trick them. If they bite into a pill and realise it is bitter, they will likely spit it out.
Since you don’t want your pet to get suspicious, you should always pair a medicated treat with a non-medicated treat. Your dog should swallow the treat quickly in anticipation of another being given.
Hide it in food
The easiest way to give your dog a tablet is to hide it in food. Because let’s face it, most dogs will eat any food.
Tablets can be hidden in pieces of chicken, ham, sausage or tuna. Whatever their favourite meat, you can cover a tablet with the meat by rolling it around the tablet or burying the tablet into a piece of chicken.
Other foods to try include cheese, a dab of dog-safe peanut butter, or even in their own treats if the pill can be pushed into the treat.
It needs to be small enough for them to eat really quickly without having to chew. Because unfortunately, if a dog realises that a piece of chicken isn’t just a piece of chicken, it can make every future tablet difficult to give them too.
Ask your vet if your dog’s medication can be given with food. Some medication can’t be mixed with dairy, for example
Use a pill pocket
These are treats with a dedicated hole in the centre for placing a tablet into. They come in different sizes and are usually made to be really low in calories, so it can be better than using human food.
Some are also available for dogs who are overweight or on controlled diets. Most manufacturers understand that you may need to get through a few to ensure your dog has eaten the tablet.
A bonus of using a specially made treat is that you don’t have to force the tablet into the treat, so it won’t break. A tablet should be given to a dog whole, to limit the bitter taste.
Crush it in food
Some tablets don’t need to be given whole and don’t need to be given on an empty stomach. If so, ask your vet if you can crush it into their food.
This will only work if there is no bitter taste left by the tablet, such as if it is flavoured. Your dog’s food will likely have to be quite strong in flavour, too, in order to hide it.
Place it into their mouth
Whether this is possible will depend on your dog’s behaviour and how they react. Have larger dogs sit on the floor with someone ensuring they can’t move. Hold smaller dogs in someone’s arms so they can’t wriggle.
Gently hold their jaw and tilt their head upwards. The dog’s mouth should open slightly. The pill giver then needs to place the tablet as far back on their tongue as possible. Don’t drop it into their mouth as it could cause them to choke.
Close their mouth, gently hold their muzzle and encourage them to swallow. This will prevent them from spitting it back out. Once they go to lick their lips, it is often a sign of them having swallowed the tablet.
When done, really reward them. If you find it hard to keep them still, if they are getting stressed or if you’re concerned they could bite or scratch you, stop and try again later.
How to give your dog medication in a syringe
Sometimes, some medication needs to be given in a non-pill form. Your dog’s medication may also be available in paste or liquid form if you really cannot give your dog a tablet.
Usually, it is a quite tasty paste, so your dog will lick it up. Meat flavours are common. Allow them to approach the syringe of their own accord, so they don’t get scared of what it is.
If they will allow you, you can try to put the syringe into their mouth and squirt the paste or liquid in, to ensure they have definitely eaten it all.
Important rules on giving your dog medication
- Always follow the rules. If the tablet needs to be given whole, do
- Always finish the prescription. Don’t give up if your dog isn’t happy after five days
- Never share medication between pets. If another dog eats a pill pocket, call your vet ASAP
Still struggling? Don’t stress your dog out too much, and don’t put yourself under too much pressure either. Talk to your vet if you simply can’t get your dog to take medication.