17 Tips for Giving Your Dog Medicine - Simply For Dogs
Dog Medicine

17 Tips for Giving Your Dog Medicine

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE READ MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFO.

Medically Reviewed by Veterinarian Angela Dwywer, DVM on July 18, 2018

Over the last few years, I’ve been pretty lucky with Janice and Leroy’s health. Other than a few minor issues, they’ve been healthy and happy dogs. But there have been times when I’ve needed to give them medicine. Of course, when it’s time for their regular flea and tick prevention, I have to convince them that the chewy tablet is really a piece of tasty food. But I’ve also had to dole out antibiotics and a few other things as well. And to be honest with you, giving a dog medicine is not usually an easy task.

Today I’ve come up with a few tips that I’ve used, and found online, to help give a dog their medicine. Whether you are giving out pills, liquid medicine, chewable tablets, or shots, you’ll find something to help. It’s important that you focus on finding a method that gets the medicine down, rather than something that makes your dog super happy to take their medicine – while no one likes the guilty feeling that comes with forcing a dog to take medicine, the goal is get your dog what they need.

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$10.38
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Last update on 2018-12-09 at 17:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tips for Giving a Dog Pills

Pills are probably the most common type of medicine that you’ll be given to administer to your dog. There are pills for just about everything, from flea and tick prevention to pain management to antibiotics and so much more. Many dogs end up needing regular pills for things like hormonal support as they get older – this can mean that you have to give your dog a pill multiple times a day. You may also need pills to give your dog before travel, to prevent anxiety and travel sickness, which means that you’ll need to be able to give your dog their medicine when they are already in an agitated state.

 

Whatever the situation, you’ll need to learn how to go about getting them to swallow something that doesn’t look, taste, or smell like food. Here are some tips:

  • The Ol’ Hide-the-Pill-in-Food Trick: One of the most tried and true methods for getting a dog to eat a pill is to hide it in some food. You can press the pill into a piece of hotdog, or surround it with peanut butter. For most dogs, especially clever ones, what you want to do is feed them a piece of food without any pill, then give them the food with the pill hidden inside while they are too excited to check it out, then perhaps follow it up with one more plain piece of food just to make sure they don’t inpsect that last bite too thoroughly. However, if you have to give your dog several pills a day, this can add a lot of extra calories to their diet.
  • Pill Pockets: Some brands like Greenies do make pill pockets, which are dog treats with holes in the middle for pills to be hidden inside. You can find lower-calorie versions with ingredients that are better for dogs than processed meat, so this may be a good option if your dog just does not take pills any other way than with food.
  • Use a Piller: A piller is a device that pushes a pill down a dog’s throat quickly so that you don’t have to try to do so with your hands. These are usually meant for small pills, and are especially good for smaller dogs where you may not be able to get your hand in their mouth at all. These are designed to be very gentle on the dog’s throat. All you need to do is load the pill into the piller, pull back the plunger, and insert the piller into your dog’s mouth, making sure to go all the way back over the tongue till the pill is positioned at the throat. Then push down on the plunger, remove the device, and gently hold your dog’s muzzle shut till they swallow.
  • Push It Down and Blow: If you need to simply push the pill into your dog’s mouth with your hands, it can be tough to get them to swallow the pill. They may hold onto it in their mouth until they can get away from you and spit it out. One way I learned to help get the dogs to swallow is to gently blow into their nostrils while holding the muzzle shut. This causes an involuntary swallowing motion, which can help get that pill down. Be sure to do this gently and only for a second or two – your dog needs to breathe!

Tips for Giving a Dog Liquid Medicine

Liquid medicine is used for all sorts of things in dogs. They can be given orally, but a lot of times, liquids are used more as drops for the eyes, ears, or to put on wounded or infected skin. Luckily, giving out this type of medicine is pretty easy because your dog can’t really spit out an ear drop. However, you do need to learn some good ways to restrain your dog if they don’t really like you trying to put something in their eyes, ears, or in any other place.

Related Content:

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What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?
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  • Restraining a dog when giving medicine is a tricky balance of keeping them still, but also making them feel comforted throughout the process. The best thing to do is to sit on the floor, and have the front of your dog in your lap. If the dog is very big, have them sit, and stand behind them, holding their body against your legs. If the dog is very small, you may want to wrap them up in a blanket to keep them still.
  • I know that many people think you should tilt your dog’s head back, squirt in the medicine, and wait for it to go down. But when your dog’s head is tilted back, there’s a chance they could inhale the medicine instead of swallowing it. Instead, squirt the medicine into your dog’s cheek, then hold their muzzle shut and wait for the inevitable swallow. Saliva build up will cause them to swallow in a bit.
  • If you give out ear drops or eyes drops, the best tip I can give you is to administer the drop as directed, then very gently massage around the ear or eye to get the medicine to “sink in”. This stops the dog from shaking their head and getting all the medicine to shake off. Be sure to be very gentle, because an infected ear or eye could be painful.

Dog Medicine

Tips for Giving a Dog Chewable Tablets

Chewable tablets are usually the easiest thing to give a dog. They usually have some sort of meaty flavor or smell to them, and they are the texture of a yummy snack. If your dog won’t just take the chewable tablet outright, I recommend getting them interested in some kind of exciting game, and then using pieces of the tablet as a treat during the game. They may be so excited by the game that they don’t really think about what they are eating.

  • Try to avoid making medicine time stressful or different from your usual routine. Just play with your dog like you normally would, and swap out the pill for a treat you would typically give them. If you can’t get them to eat the pill, don’t stress or try to force the issue. Just give it a few minutes, and then try to engage them in play again. Remember, dogs pick up on your emotions – so if you are frustrated, they won’t be feeling great about taking that pill.

Tips for Giving a Dog Shots

Usually, the only reason you would need to give a dog medicine through shots is if they have diabetes and need insulin, or if they have a severe allergy that needs a regular allergy injection to maintain. The best thing to do is to have a vet show you how to administer shots. I’m not a vet, so I would highly recommend this as the number one thing to do in this situation. You have to learn how to give the shot in the right place, with the right depth – but it’s not as hard as it sounds.

I called up my vet Steve and asked him for some pointers:

  • Be sure you pull up a flap of skin to inject the medicine into. Don’t just jam the needle into their bum and go about your day. Sit with your dog in your lap, and pull up that flap of skin between the shoulder blades where mother dogs carry their puppies.
  • The needle for dog medicine shots is very small and thin, so you don’t need to worry about going too deep. Just quickly thrust it into the flap of skin you’ve pulled up, making sure the needle tip is buried in the flap (not poking out another side).
  • Don’t administer the medicine yet! Pull back the plunger once the needle is inside and watch. If blood starts to fill the tube, you need to remove the needle and reposition it. This means you accidentally hit a tiny little capillary in the skin. It’s nothing to worry about, but it’s not a good place to administer the medicine.
  • If you don’t see blood, push down the plunger very gently till all the medicine is gone.

A Few Tips on Restraining Dogs Humanely

If you have a dog that just hates medicine, or that is big and strong, you may have a problem even with these tips. There are ways to restrain a dog that aren’t cruel, but most of them require help. Here are some ways to make restraining a dog a bit easier.

  • First, be sure to keep a positive attitude and environment the whole time. Reassure your dog, praise them, talk to them as if nothing is weird in this moment. The more “normal” you act, the less anxious they’ll be.
  • Don’t shout or get frustrated if your dog keeps getting free. Patience is key in keeping their anxiety in check.
  • Try not to restrain a dog in a way that makes them panic. For example, don’t have four people each holding down a leg and another person keeping their head still. This is a lot of people all restraining the dog, and that causes immediate fear. Unless this is totally necessary for the dog’s immediate health, this is a bad idea.
  • Try not to restrain the dog in an unnatural posture. I know it’s tempting to flip your dog over and hold them in a way that makes it hard for them to move. But this causes fear. Try holding your dog on their side, with their legs gently but firmly pinned to the ground, while you administer a shot or ear drops, for example. This is a normal posture that they feel safe in, but still gives you control.

Dog’s Products On Amazon

GREENIES PILL POCKETS Capsule Size Dog Treats Chicken Flavor, 15.8 oz. Value Pack (60 Treats)
Jorgensen Pet Piller
GREENIES PILL POCKETS Capsule Size Dog Treats Chicken Flavor, 15.8 oz. Value Pack (60 Treats)
Jorgensen Pet Piller
$10.38
$4.94
-
-
GREENIES PILL POCKETS Capsule Size Dog Treats Chicken Flavor, 15.8 oz. Value Pack (60 Treats)
GREENIES PILL POCKETS Capsule Size Dog Treats Chicken Flavor, 15.8 oz. Value Pack (60 Treats)
$10.38
-
Jorgensen Pet Piller
Jorgensen Pet Piller
$4.94
-

Last update on 2018-12-09 at 17:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Final Word

I have one more tip for giving a dog medicine: Ask your vet for a different option if the one you have isn’t working. Some dogs just do not want you to touch their very painful infected ear to give them drops. In this case, it’s possible the vet could offer oral medication to get rid of the infection, or to manage the pain so that you can use the drops. Don’t be afraid to talk to your vet about what works for your dog and for you.

Overall, I think that the biggest thing to keep in mind is that a dog just needs to trust you. Don’t make a big deal about medicine, and try to make it fun, and they’ll likely learn to just swallow or accept the medicine that you have, no problem. Don’t change up your normal routine if you can, and be sure to keep an eye on those calories if you use the food trick to get pills down. Fingers crossed that your dog doesn’t need to take any medications long-term!

Related Content:

Pain Treatment and Medication for Dogs (Video)
What Can I Give My Dog for Pain?
Amitriptyline for Dogs – Is Medication a Good Way to Calm Your Nervous Pet?

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