Giving pills to a dog can be easy, depending upon the dog, but it can also be nearly impossible, particularly if it’s a small dog that needs to take a large pill. I’ll use this post to go over several easy ways to give pills to a dog, whether the dog is eager or reluctant to swallow its medicine. Keep in mind that, aside from vitamins (those designed for dogs only) and probiotics, your dog should not be taking any pills without the guidance of a veterinarian. Even if the pill is a simple supplement, it’s easy to ask your vet–much easier than dealing with a bad reaction to a drug!
Peanut Butter Method
For the majority of dogs, rolling the pill in chunky peanut butter and popping it on the back of the dog’s tongue will suffice to convince the dog to swallow. The key is to stick the lump of peanut butter and pill on your pointer finger and slip it, in one smooth motion, under the dog’s lip, behind his teeth, and into the back of the mouth. It’ll be too sticky and tasty to bother spitting out, even after the dog realizes you’ve snuck a pill in there.
For slightly more reluctant dogs, try the lunchmeat roll-up method. Spread cream cheese on a slice of nitrite-free lunchmeat (Hormel Naturals is safe and healthful) and place the pill in the middle. Roll the meat up like a fruit roll-up. Slice the whole roll into thin slices, like the pinwheel appetizers sometimes served at parties. Only one slice should have the pill in it. Toss a pill-free slice to your dog. Keep giving slices with no pill until your dog is swallowing the roll-ups whole. Then toss the one with the pill in it. Most dogs will gulp it down without ever noticing there’s a pill inside. Finish by feeding one more pill-free roll.
If your pet absolutely won’t take a pill wrapped in food, you may have to use a pill gun, also called a pet piller. Use this device only after a veterinarian has shown you how to do so safely. Pets can be choked or injured by improperly used pill guns. This is a last resort for very reluctant dogs. The pill gun allows you to shoot a pill down the pet’s throat so they are unable to spit it out.
If your pet won’t take pills, try thinking outside the box. Ask your vet if there’s a liquid or topical version of the medication your pet needs. Many medicines can be compounded with flavored liquid or even made into a lotion absorbed through the skin. Liquids can easily be given with a small syringe or an eyedropper, while topicals require shaving (and keeping shaved) an area where the medication can be rubbed in.