A spoonful of sugar might help our medicine go down, but dogs typically pose a bit more of a challenge. While some canine companions dutifully eat their pills with dinner, most tend to need a little encouragement. These tips for giving your dog a pill will make the process more pleasant for everyone involved.
Not all medication can be given with food. But if it can, putting the pill in a pill pocket or wrapping it in a piece of cheese makes it easy to slip into your dog’s system. Keep in mind that this approach works best for dogs that wolf down treats without chewing. Dogs that chew soft treats may bite into the unpleasant-tasting medicine, making them harder to trick next time. It should be noted that dogs with food sensitivities or allergies might have issues with the ingredients in pill pockets, so consult your veterinarian if your canine companion has had problems with food in the past.
Compounded and Liquid Medications
Sometimes you can opt for a flavored compounded medication or a chewable “treat” tablet. This works well for dogs that don’t like to swallow their pills. However, these medications can be more expensive — depending on the drug — and your veterinarian may caution against compounding certain drugs because it could impact their effectiveness. Also, medications are not always compounded at every pharmacy. Ask your veterinarian to guide you to pharmacies that are noted for compounding medications.
Administering pills to your dog can pose certain risks. For instance, in order to get the pill far enough back on your dog’s tongue for him to swallow, you need to put your fingers in his mouth. This can lead to accidental bites. Pill devices place the medication in your dog’s mouth, so that you don’t have to expose your fingers to danger. A dog’s tongue has a hump, and in order to succeed in getting him to swallow the pill, you need to place it behind the hump. Once you’ve done that, close his jaws and gently stroke his throat in a downward motion to encourage him to swallow the pill.
Restraining a dog while also trying to give him medication is difficult. If possible, ask a friend or family member to hold your dog for you, so that you can concentrate fully on the task at hand.
Reward Your Dog
The last thing you want is to make this process stressful. Reward your dog with a small treat after every pill, and do your best to keep both of you calm, no matter how frustrated you get.
Ask Your Veterinarian for a Demonstration
Successful administration of pills is an art form. When in doubt, request a demonstration on proper technique from your veterinarian.