How to give your dog a pill.

Taking daily pills are a challenge in our household with two chihuahuas.  Even with their small adorable mouths, we have experienced serious dog bites resulting in breaking the skin with bleeding to our fingers.  Any dog bite near the nail or finger is can be infected very easily and can cause a tremendous amount of pain and swelling.  We have used the following techniques in giving pills and hope you find these tips and tricks helpful.

Below are a list of tips and tricks on how to give a pill to your dog. 

1. Pill Gun / Piller Stick

We have had the most success with this method.  The device is a medium length plastic tube and looks like and is held similar to a syringe, but the difference is there is no needle and it is able to hold a pill securely at its tip.  Insert the pill at the end of the plastic/rubber grip, tilt your dog's head in a 45-90 degree angle, using the pill stick, lodge and release the pill to the very back of the throat past the hump of the tongue, close the mouth quickly to encourage swallowing, and hold the nose and stroke gently the throat to assure and praise the dog for taking the pill. 

2. Crush the pill and mix in their daily food

For the pills that are not slow time release dependent, using a mortar and pestle or open the pill capsule and sprinkle onto their wet or dry food.  To further encourage the acceptance of the pill contents and mask the taste, mix in some beef or chicken broth.  We also use this same method for probiotics as the beef or chicken broth makes it more palatable and appealing to our dogs. 

3. Treat Sneak Method: Hide the pill in cheese, peanut butter, cream cheese, etc.

Stuff the pill in cheese, peanut butter, pill pocket, or their favorite treat.  First, give the dog a treat without the pill.  Give a second treat with the pill.  Lastly, do a final reward of the dog without the pill.  In all three instances, make receiving the pill and treat exciting and rewarding as a positive experience as possible.  If you have two dogs, make it a competition as if when there is a second dog, the dog needing the medicine will be distracted and will want to consume the treat before the other dog.  Some dogs are super smart and eat around the treat and spit out their pill.  When this happens, wait thirty minutes and change the treat form and try the treat sneak method again.  

4. Convert the pill into treats via compounding

There are local pharmacies that can help compound the pill into a chewy treat form.  Dogs love meat flavored treats and the pill is transformed into a shape that is not recognizable as the dreaded capsule form.  Please be sure to triple check with your vet for recommendations of a local pharmacist for compounding and to make sure the compounding still accomplishes the same efficacy of the medication. 


DSC_6914” by sayo ts, is licensed under a public domain Creative Commons CC0 1.0.