Pet ParentingMedicine Cabinet

5 Tips to Give Your Dog Their Pills

Use these tips to help your stubborn dog take their medications.

Hand dog treat

Pet owners love to brag about how smart their dog is... until it comes to giving them pills. If your dog tries to outsmart you, these tricks might help you give your reluctant dog their medication.

1. Open the Pill Bottle in Secret

Just like your dog knows the sound of you opening their treat bag, they recognize when you are opening their pill bottle. Before you hide their pill in their meal or treats, make sure to open the bottle without your dog seeing. This way, they won’t suspect the hidden pill.

2. Hide the Pill in Safe Treats

Hiding the pill in tasty treats is a common way to help your dog take their pills. There are a wide variety of foods and treats to use: cheese, banana slices, peanut butter, hot dog chunks, meatballs, mashed potatoes, or pumpkin puree are popular choices. Make sure the food you choose is the right one for your dog. For example, peanut butter and cheese are high in fat, so if you are trying to help your dog lose weight, another option may be more appropriate. Cheese is also not a good choice if your dog is lactose intolerant. If the food is new to your dog, make sure to give them a small amount without the pill first to make sure they will be able to tolerate it. There are also a number of treats made specifically for hiding pills, just make sure those treats don’t have ingredients that counteract with any condition your pet may have.

3. Build “Pill Time” Into their Daily Routine

Help your dog build a positive association with taking pills. Giving them a pill before they go on a walk establishes an immediate reward. If your dog has a consistent time of day when they eat meals or get treats, give them their pills at this time as well. Piggybacking their pills onto their meal or treat time makes taking medication part of their normal routine rather than an ordeal. Another trick pet parents use is to crush up the pill and sprinkle it over their dog’s food. Be sure to check with your veterinarian that crushing up the specific pill is safe to do and will not alter its effectiveness.

4. Treat-Trick-Treat

If your dog is used to getting a few small treats in a row, swap one treat out for their pill. Give them a treat first, then their pill, and then one last treat. Even though the second is a pill, they will accept it because they are expecting it to be a treat. Giving them a treat at the end is a reward for them taking their medication.

5. Ask your Veterinarian for Recommendations

While these are tips commonly used by pet owners, you and your veterinarian know your dog best. Depending on your dog’s unique diet and behavior, your veterinarian might have more specific recommendations to help you give your dog their pills.