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Tips for Giving Oral Medication to Your Dog

Use these tips to make it easier to give your dog medication.

They're the words that many people dread when they take their dog to the vet: You're going to need to give oral medication.

It can be a trick and a trial to get your dog to take oral medication. Sometimes they just refuse to unclench their teeth. Other times, they spit it out immediately. Some even hide it in their cheek until they're out of sight of the owner and then deposit it behind the couch.

It's crucial that your dog take all medications that are prescribed to him according to the instructions your veterinarian gives. Take a look at our tips for giving oral medication to dogs for some ideas that might help you get your dog's medicine into him.

Try Hiding the Medication in a Pill Pocket

Pill pockets can really help get oral medications into dogs. These are chewy, flavored treats with holes in the centers. Place a pill inside one and close up the gap by pinching the soft treat together. Try not to touch the outside of the pouch with the tablet because that can transfer odor that will let your dog in on the secret.

Be Positive and Give Rewards

As much as possible, stay calm and don't get upset surrounding the process of giving pills to your dog. That can upset him and cause him to think there's something to fear about taking the medicine. Instead, speak calmly and softly, and give treats at each step (if you're allowed to do so—for some conditions, your vet will recommend not giving your dog any treats.)

If you can't use treats, use lavish praise and a play session with your dog's favorite toy. As your dog begins to realize that he will get praise and play after he takes his pill, it will get easier. Also, engaging with your dog in that way immediately after giving pill means he dog won't be able to sneak off and spit out the pill.

Try Hiding the Pill in Other Food

Of course, you will need to avoid food that is toxic to dog, but you might have luck hiding your dog's pill in yummy foods. One commonly used food is peanut butter. However, if you choose to give the pill in peanut butter, make sure you look at the ingredients carefully. Some peanut butter contains xylitol, a natural sweetener which is extremely toxic to dogs.

Try a Pill Gun

You might have luck using a pill gun tool to get your dog's medicine into the back of your dog's mouth and over his tongue. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to use the pill gun.

Find Out if the Medication Comes in or Can Be Compounded into Other Forms

If you are unable to get your dog's oral medication into him, be sure to call your veterinarian right away. There might be another form, such as liquid, that the medication comes in which might be easier for you to give. Some medications can be formulated into other forms, such as dermal, that might be easier deliver to your dog.

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.