Jack Russell Terrier

Giving the dog a pill: tips and tricks

For some dogs, giving them the pill is not a problem at all. For others, on the other hand, it is not that easy to get used to the administration of medication. We have 10 tips for you to look out for when giving your dog pills and to get your dog to swallow the medication.

1. Inform yourself well about the medication

Get precise advice from your vet on how to give your dog the medication: Are there any specifics? Is it allowed to dissolve or crush the tablet, or does it affect its effectiveness? This is possible with most drugs, but there are always exceptions!

2. Mix the tablet into the food

This method is probably the most common trick used by pet owners when they want to give their animals a tablet: they simply mix it with the normal food and hope that the animal does not notice it. With dogs this is of course also possible and often successful. But you should pay attention to one or the other:

  • It is advisable to crush the tablet (if possible) (e.g. with a mortar) and then sprinkle it over the food. Liquid medication can be drizzled over it. If you mix the tablet in one piece with the food, the dog may spit it out again or leave it directly in the bowl.
  • Sometimes drugs taste very bitter, which can lead to the dog stopping to eat and generally refusing food – simply because it no longer tastes good or it smells different. To prevent this from happening, be sure to mix the crushed medication well with the food.
  • It can also be helpful to first mix the medication into a smaller portion of food and then offer the dog a “normal” portion. Because sick dogs in particular often do not have such a great appetite. However, once the tablet has been crushed, the entire portion must be eaten so that the dog can completely absorb the medication. This is more likely with a smaller serving. You can also reward your dog with a “normal-tasting” portion afterwards.
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    You can mix the tablet with regular dog food, but crush it if possible. © Shutterstock.com/ PhotoSmileBeautiful

    3. Hide the tablet in the treat

    An alternative to adding the medication to the dog’s main food is to hide it in a treat. Most dogs mouth watering when they see a treat. It is plastered off so quickly that, ideally, the tablet in it is not even noticeable. Please note the following:

    • Choose the softest possible treat that is easy to hide the tablet in and that you know your dog will love.
    • Some treats in stores already have a notch in which you can put a tablet. You can also cut a slit in the treat with a knife and place the medication in it. The tablet can also be hidden in a piece of cheese or wrapped in liver sausage.
    • If your dog realizes that the treat doesn’t taste as good as usual, it can happen that at some point he no longer wants to take it. To avoid this, you can give him a “normal” treat before and after the tablet treat (immediately one after the other). The first stimulates the desire for more, the second delivers the tablet and the third gives the dog a “positive conclusion” with a good taste.

    Tip: You can also give your dog a command before giving the treats. This can increase the dog’s appetite.

    Of course, you shouldn’t overload your dog with treats. This is not good for their health and is not an optimal solution, especially for overweight dogs. You can also hide the tablet for your dog in a treat. © Shutterstock.com/EugeneEdge

    4. Taking tablets as a ritual

    Dogs love fixed structures and rituals. That gives them security. Take advantage of this for the administration of the tablet and set a time for it. You can also introduce this ritual before the dog even has to take pills: Every day, around the same time, there are one or two treats (also with a command, so that the dog has to “work out” it). If your dog needs a tablet, you can simply hide it in one of these treats – nothing changes for the dog.

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    5. Get the dog used to it from an early age

    So that it doesn’t become a problem in an emergency, it is best to get your dog used to taking pills from an early age. Of course, you mustn’t give him any real medication that he doesn’t need! But you can, for example, get him used to the fact that you are allowed to open his mouth or teach him the command “Open his mouth” so that he opens his mouth by himself.

    6. Accessibility for drugs

    It is often easier to give the dog the tablet in liquid form. If the medication allows, dissolve the tablet in water and fill the liquid into an input device, e.g. a disposable syringe (without a needle!) Or a pipette. You can then give the dissolved tablet into your dog’s mouth. To do this, you need to carefully open the dog’s mouth. Place the input aid on the back of the tongue as far back as possible to trigger the dog’s swallowing reflex.

    This method has the advantage that the dog does not have to swallow a whole tablet in one piece and cannot simply spit it out again, but the dog must let you open its mouth or want to open it by itself.

    Liquid medication is often easier to administer to dogs. © Shutterstock.com/CHPStock

    7. Put the tablet directly into the dog’s mouth

    It is of course also possible to put the tablet directly into the dog’s mouth. It’s a little trickier than hiding the medicine in the food. But if your dog doesn’t let himself be tricked or you don’t have a treat on hand, it can be very helpful that you can simply put the tablet directly into his mouth.

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    To do this, you must first manage to open the dog’s mouth. It is advisable to teach the dog the command to “open its mouth” from the very beginning, then you will have no problems with it.

    If your dog has not yet mastered the command, you have to open its mouth. It works like this:

  • Grasp the dog’s head above the ears and very gently pull his head back a little.
  • Gently reach over the dog’s muzzle with your hand and carefully open the muzzle on one side with your thumb.
  • Then use your thumb to press between the teeth behind the canines, taking the lips with you as well.
  • Then push the tablet into the dog’s mouth (as far back as possible) and make sure that he actually swallows the tablet. To do this, you can still leave your hand on your dog’s muzzle so that his mouth remains closed.
  • It can be helpful, especially at the beginning, to be two when opening your mouth.

    8. Observe whether the dog really swallows the tablet

    After taking the pill, you should watch your dog closely for a few minutes to make sure that he has actually swallowed the pill. He may spit them out again.

    9. No stress when administering medication

    A calm and relaxed mood is very important when administering medication to dogs. If you are stressed or hectic, it will affect your dog as well. This can make tablet administration more difficult. You should therefore give the medicine at a point in time when you really have time and not when you actually have to go again.

    10. Ask the veterinarian for advice

    If you’ve tried everything but your dog just doesn’t want to ingest the tablet or keeps spitting it out, you should ask your veterinarian for advice. Perhaps he still has an insider tip or the active ingredient that your dog needs is also available in another form, e.g. as a liquid or as a spot-on spray.