Even though most dogs will eat or chew on just about anything, many will not take pills. They may not like the taste or the way the pills smell. It can also happen because many dogs are reluctant to take anything that is unusual or foreign to them. Below are some ways to help you get your dog to take their pills without much trouble.
How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill
Choose Tasty Foods with a Strong Smell
Some foods, even though your dog loves them, aren’t enough to mask the scent of the pill. Try foods with strong odors such as liver pate or a strong-smelling cheese. Make sure the food coats the pill enough to disguise it while keeping the treat small enough to eat whole. And don’t be afraid to experiment. If you see your dog drooling or begging while you prepare the pill, then you know you’re on the right track. There are many commercial pill-hiding treats on the market, or you can try hiding it in your dog’s favorite treat. This helps when your dog must take multiple pills a day.
Play Catch with Their Treats
If you find the right treat to hide a pill in for your dog, take a few and play catch with your dog. The dog will eat all of the treats and never know which one the pill is hiding in. You can play this game at random times during the day to get your dog looking forward to the treats but never knowing when the pill will appear. This is a great way to get your dog to take a pill. The dog will be so focused on the treats and it will never notice the pill at all.
Get a Flavored Medication for Your Dog
Some common medications for dogs come in a variety of flavors to make the pills more appealing to dogs. You can talk to your veterinarian or a compound pharmacy about getting flavored treats. These treats can cost a bit more but it may be worth it if your dog must take multiple pills a day. Some medications that are available with dog-friendly flavors include Rimadyl (carprofen) and Deramaxx (deracoxib), used for treating arthritis; oral flea medications; and Reconcile (fluoxetine), which is used with behavior modification and is a standard prescription for separation anxiety.
You can watch how others get their dog to take a pill in the video below:
What If Your Dog Still Doesn't Take a Pill?
Use a Pill Dropper
Typically when pills cannot be placed in a dog’s food, a pill dropper can work. It looks similar to a syringe and can drop the pill into the dog’s mouth. To use it, you tilt the dog’s head back and drop the pill back into the dog’s mouth as far as you can. Then hold your dog's mouth closed and gently rub your dog’s throat to get it to swallow. Be careful how far you place the dropper as it can cause the dog to gag.
Use Your Hands to Administer Pills
Instead of a pill dropper, you can use your hands. Have your dog sit in front of you and tilt its head back. Opening your dog’s mouth, place the pill into its mouth, hold it closed, and massage the throat until your dog swallows the pill.
Help the Pills Go Down Easier
Coating the pill in a thin layer of butter or cream cheese can help the pill slide easier down your dog’s throat. This isn’t the same as disguising the pill. You can follow the same procedure as using your hands after you apply the thin coat of butter or cream cheese. This also helps protect the pill’s coating in case you can’t get it down on the first try.
Tips for Getting Your Dog to Take a Pill
Be sure to give your dog some praise and possibly a treat after it takes the pill. This makes the next time much easier as your dog knows it will be rewarded for good behavior.
Always follow the veterinarian’s instructions when administering medication and make sure your dog has actually swallowed the pill. This will ensure that treatment is effective and your dog is safe. You can consult your vet for advice.