People can take pills with relative ease; a glass of water is all it takes to make quick work of a vitamin or capsule of medication. Of course, it isn’t quite as easy to convince a dog to take a pill, but there are methods to make it as painless as possible. Here are some methods concerning how to properly administer a pill to your pup.
Some medications are offered as a chewable tidbit! You can ask your vet if a particular medicine comes in a ready-to-eat-treat form; these are barely detectable from normal treats as they are pleasantly flavored and bite size. There are also certain treats on the market that are hollow and can house pills inside them. You may need to feed your dog a few of these hollow treats with pleasant things inside (like peanut butter) so they do not come to associate the treat with the odd tasting pill that is contained in the treat’s center.
Depending on how often your dog needs to take a medication, you can usually hide it in their food. Some dogs bolt their dinner down making pill-taking quick and easy, but for dogs who pick at their food, you may need to incentivize. For example, if you allow your dog to have meat or cheese cubes on occasion, you can hide the pill inside one of these food items. Feeding your dog extraneous food, though, can be detrimental to their health. It is better to hide the pill in food that is already a regular part of your dog’s diet. But if the medication regimen is for a shorter period of time, it may be worthwhile to hide the pill inside a piece of meat or cheese. If you’re a vegetarian, another method is to ensconce the pill in peanut butter and have your dog lap it up from a spoon or small bowl.
Sometimes, you can fake your dog out by throwing them a pill instead of a treat while you’re playing a game. If you’re already in the habit of training your dog and rewarding them with healthy, bite-sized treats, then it should be relatively easy to get them to gobble up a slyly tossed pill capsule. This is more relevant for dogs who catch treats in their mouths and swallow instinctively. You can also train your dog to associate an open mouth with tasty treats. By giving the verbal cue “open” and rewarding them when their mouths are fully open, you are reinforcing the idea that “open” mainly means “treat.” When you do toss them the occasional pill, they will be more amenable to swallowing it because you so often do give them treats. That said, it’s good to follow up a pill throw with a treat throw to ensure they swallow the medicine down.
The Hard Pill To Swallow
When all else fails, you may need to force the pill into your dog’s mouth (obviously, not ideal.) Be gentle but firm with your dog. Hold the pill between two fingers on one hand. Keep that hand close to your dog’s jaw. Use your other hand to open your dog’s mouth. Pop the pill in quickly and close your hand around your dog’s snout until they swallow. Stroke their throat to encourage swallowing. After you’re sure they have swallowed, reward them with a treat. This process goes smoother with another person holding the dog — especially if that dog is not fully cooperative. If your dog is not yet fully socialized or has been known to react strongly, it may be best to have a professional help you administer the medication.
As ever, be safe and responsible!