husky with two pills

How Should I Give My Dog Medicine?

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Dogs often act like human children in funny ways, and if you’ve ever tried to give one their medication you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

For dogs that truly hate taking their pills, the mere sound of the bottle being opened is enough to make them run and hide under the bed.

As their owners, we only want the best for them, and that means sometimes forcing them to take their medication because we know it’ll make them better. It can be upsetting to see your pet resist something so much, but if you have a few tricks up your sleeve, you can make giving them their medication a lot easier and less stressful for everyone involved.

How should you give your dog medicine?

Learning how to give your dog a pill, liquid or other meditation takes practice, but it can be done easily enough to take the anxiety out of the situation. Depending on the type of medicine they’re taking, there are some techniques like hiding it in a treat, learning how to help them swallow it, and opting for a flavored alternative if it’s available.

Once you’ve learned how to give a dog a pill the easy way, they’ll never know that you’re trying to feed them medicine, and the whole experience will be a lot calmer. Check out our tips for giving pills, liquid, and other forms of medication to your pet to make the process pain free in the future.

Common Problems With Dog Medicines

man holding pill for dog

Some dogs will easily eat a pill that’s been prescribed to them or won’t even notice it hidden in their nightly meal, but for most of us unlucky ones, it’s a challenge to get them to take their medication.

This in itself is the biggest problem with dog medicines, but it’s not the only one.

Another issue is that the type of medicine your veterinarian prescribes will determine how it can be given to your dog, and not every method will be enjoyable. Some should be administered on an empty stomach which requires more work from you, and others are better hidden in their food, however, this doesn’t always go to plan.

If you’ve hidden the pill or medicine inside a meatball or a dog treat, your dog may be skilled at eating everything except their medication, and the result is a pill that’s disintegrated and now useless. Sometimes, they might get a small taste of the pill and spit the food out, which will make it even harder to attempt this method a second time.

Some medications shouldn’t be mixed with food as it can reduce their effectiveness and others that should only be administered on a full stomach. To determine the best approach, you should check with your veterinarian before you come up with a plan on how to deliver their medication.

Types of Medicines That Pets Take

flavoured liquid medicine for chiuaua


Dog medication commonly comes in the form of a pill which is small in size, making it easier to administer. The best approach is to stick it directly down their throat or use a pill dispenser device that can do it for you, otherwise sticking it inside a treat, a slice of cheese or a meatball can be effective.


Liquid medication is usually flavored so that it doesn’t taste unusual to your dog. If your dog has had trouble in the past with pills, your vet might recommend this initially, so ask if it’s an option if you’re feeling anxious.


A powdered medication is ideal for mixing through food and comes in capsule form, but the taste might be obvious to your dog, which can turn them off eating altogether. If your dog prefers powdered medication, ask your vet if it’s okay for you to crush down their pills to make it easier, but this might not be an option for every type.


It’s common these days for dog medication for ticks and worms to come in tasty treats and chews, and they’ve been flavored so that they completely hide the taste of the medicine inside. Where possible, this is the easiest option for giving your dog his medicine.

Can Dogs Swallow Pills?

little labrador with tablespoon of pills

Dogs are capable of swallowing pills in their whole form, even if you’ve never witnessed your dog do it without a fight.

When it comes to administering medication, this is the ideal method that ensures they’re going to get the complete dosage and without any second-guessing from you whether or not they swallowed it.

Whatever method you’re attempting to use to deliver medication, it can help to distract your dog from the process. Take them for a walk and stop mid-way to administer the pills, as they’ll be caught off guard, in a happy mood, and like distracted from their surroundings, rather than sitting around home and being on guard.

When you see your dog’s vet, they’ll give you some guidance on how to deliver it best, but if you’re concerned about negative experiences in the past, make sure you tell them. There may be other options available which means you don’t have to force them to swallow a pill, or you can follow our step by step instructions to make the job a lot easier for both of you.

How to Give a Dog a Pill the Easy Way

Your dog’s vet will likely give you a rundown on how to administer a pill, but when you get home you find it was a lot easier for them to do than it is for you. If you’re stuck and not sure how to do it the right way with no fuss, check out these simple steps for how to give a dog a pill.

  1. Hold your dog’s head at the top with your dominant hand, and secure their nose between your thumb and index finger.
  2. Tilt the dog’s head back far enough so that their lower jaw drops open. This won’t be as wide as a cat’s jaw if you’ve ever tried to administer medicine, so you won’t be able to see their full tongue yet.
  3. Fold the dog’s upper lip over their teeth to protect your hand in case it bites.
  4. Place your thumb gently on the roof of its mouth and put the pill in your hand between your thumb and index finger. Pull open the dog’s lower jaw with your middle finger placing it on the small incisor teeth.
  5. Put the pill as far back past the tongue as you can, and then close its mouth and hold it shut. Blow quickly onto its nose as this triggers the swallowing response in dogs.

Administering Liquid Medicine to Your Canine

cough syrup for dogs

If your dog’s medicine comes in a liquid form, this is a lot easier to administer. You may be given a small syringe that allows you to squirt it directly down their throat, and you can use the same method for holding onto their head and opening their jaw as you do with a pill.

Place the tip of the syringe into the area that’s just behind their canine teeth so that it separates their lower jaw slightly. Squeeze the medicine in slowly so that your dog can swallow it easily and won’t have trouble breathing, and they should take it this way without much fo a fuss.

With a liquid medication, you might also be able to apply it directly to your dog’s paws and wait for them to lick it off, which they do frequently and naturally, or you can try to mix it with some food if the taste isn’t obvious.

Related Questions

Giving your dog their medication is a necessary job, but it’s one that can fill pets and their owners with anxiety.

If you’ve been tasked with administering medication to your dog, we’ve got the answers to some questions that can give you some insight into how to do it the easy way.

What Can I Mix My Dog’s Medicine With?

If you’re looking to hide a dog’s pills into food so that they eat it without a fuss, the best options are cheese, deli meats, butter, peanut butter, and canned pet food.

Once they’ve eaten it completely, check to see that there are no fragments of the pill left behind otherwise you might have to administer it again.

Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?

Peanut butter is safe to give you dogs as a treat now and then, provided it doesn’t have any xylitol in it, which is a sugar substitute commonly found low-calorie peanut butter.

Medication can be administered with peanut butter if your dog likes the taste, either in full pill form or crushed up and mixed through.

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