If you’re like most pet parents, you have struggled to give your dog a pill at some point. With a little advice and patience, you will be a pro in no time.

Use Flavored Medications or Pill Pockets

Some medications are flavored, which means that you can just throw it in the food bowl and most dogs will gobble it up. However, there are a lot of medications that aren’t flavored and some even have a bitter taste and need to be disguised with something yummy to help them swallow it. 

Pill Pockets are small, hollow treats that you put conceal pills inside of—most dogs will happily eat them. 

Direct Administration

For less cooperative dogs, you may need to "pill" them directly, meaning you will need to place it in their throat. If you have a dog that’s pretty easy going, you trust the dog, and you know that they are going to cooperate, then you can push the pill down yourself. If the pill seems sticky on the outside you can try wrapping the pill in sandwich bread, cream cheese, or butter to help it go down easier.

Administering the Pill

Hold your dog’s muzzle, push their lips back, put your fingers just behind the canine tooth, and put their nose straight up in the air. (See video above for detailed demonstration). With your other hand, drop the pill as far back in their throat as possible.

Close their mouth and stroke their throat gently to encourage swallowing. If your dog licks his lips after, you know that they have actually swallowed the pill.

Alternative Devices

If you are still really struggling with opening your dog’s mouth or if you’re afraid of getting your hand bit, there are other options as well. 

Pill Wand:

A plastic device resembling a syringe tip, ideal for placing pills without using your fingers. The tip of the wand has an opening where you can put the pill inside. Using the same technique as before, with this device you can reach the back of the mouth without having to put your hand in.

Empty Gelatin Capsules:

Useful for bitter pills or multiple medications. Place multiple pills inside and administer as a single capsule. 

If you are still struggling to give your dog their medications, we are happy to give you more advice on what to do. Contact us here if you have any questions.

The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.