How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic

For most dogs, taking some form of pills – be it a supplement for preventing health issues or a medicine to treat existing ones – is a part of their daily routine. Sadly, that doesn’t mean that most dogs are used to the process and that they take the pill without protesting. Even though in most cases pills are not optional, our doggos often stubbornly refuse to ingest them. They’ll whimper, run, or straight out refuse to open their mouth. So how do you go about it and give a pill to your dog? Here are some useful tips and tricks that can make this task simple and quick!

How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill – 5 Simple Tricks You Can Try Right Now

One of the best tricks you can use is to hide the pill in food. As we all know, most pooches are voracious and will gobble up anything you have in your hand. Any tasty treat will be quickly gulped down, with the hidden pill as well! In case you have a smart doggo on your hands, you can trick them by “accidentally” dropping some food with the pill hidden inside it and try to fake – prevent them from taking it – that works wonders for my spoiled poodle who’d eat anything if she thinks it’s forbidden. You can also try peanut butter, as it is sticky and flavorful, making it hard for the dog to detect the pill. Meat is great too, as dogs love it and it can hide a pill easily. 

If your dog is a picky eater or simply finds a way to get the pill out of the food every time you try to sneak it, you can also utilize  the specially designed pill pocket treats for dogs, which have a special hiding place for a pill. They’re irresistible too!

Of course, some pills can be crushed (but not all of them), which makes them all the easier to hide and give to your pet. So, if the medication can be crushed, mix it into a small amount of wet food. This can be the easiest and simplest way to complete the task. 

Another simple and efficient way of giving your dog a pill is using a  special pill popper tool for dogs. The way this tool is designed helps to place the pill at the back of the dog's throat, making it easier for them to swallow. Of course, some dogs can be squirmy and distrustful of this, so if you have a particularly squirmy dog, this might not work. 

But for dogs that are obedient and cooperative, a straightforward hand-feeding technique could work. To do this, gently open your dog's mouth by holding the upper jaw with one hand and the lower jaw with the other. Place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible and then close your dog's mouth and hold it shut, then gently stroke their throat or blow on their nose to encourage swallowing. Simple and quick, and certainly deserving of a tasty treat afterward. In fact, whichever method you opt for, you should reward your pet afterward, letting them know that swallowing pills is not all that scary and that they did a good job.

Thanks to this positive reinforcement method, you can gradually train your dog to accept the pill in the future too. Stay positive and consistent, and your dog will quickly get accustomed to the process. 

Of course, you should always check if your pet has actually swallowed the pill. They are smart, after all, and might try to trick you and spit the pill out when you are not looking. 

In case you continue to have trouble administering pills, consult your veterinarian. They may be able to provide the medication in a different form, such as a liquid, or offer additional advice specific to your dog's needs. 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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