How to Give Your Dog a Pill

Often times when you take your dog to the vet for an illness you are given oral medication to administer. Even if your vet demonstrates how to give the medicine, the situation may be very different once you get your pet home. After all, in the pet hospital, most dogs are either so freaked out or scared that they are either frozen stiff or will tolerate anything in exchange for getting out of there. They are out of their element and territory when in the exam room. In his home environment, however your dog is more at ease and will try to push his limits more easily.

Methods for giving a dog a pill can vary depending on the size and disposition of the dog. Smaller dogs are more easily medicated up on a table or counter top. Larger dogs are easier to treat while they are sitting on the floor. It is easiest to medicate a dog with two people; one person to restrain and the other to administer the medicine.

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As the restrainer, with a small dog, you will need to hold the dog up on a table or counter top. Hold his body sideways next to yours with his head point to your right, for example. You can hold him pointing towards the left but we will use this direction for our example. Wrap you right arm around the front of the dog holding his neck and chest close to you, so his head is pointing out of your grasp. Using your left arm, hold down his back end and stabilize his body so that when he wiggles he cannot get away. If he struggles, continue to hold him until he stops. Although it can last longer with some dogs, eventually they do give up to the idea that they aren’t going to be able to get away with persuasion. With a larger dog, back him into a corner and make him sit down so he cannot back away. Straddle to dog and wrap one arm around his neck, stabilizing his head.

As the medicator, grasp the upper jaw just behind the front canine teeth.

Be careful to not place your fingers too far under the teeth as a quick snap of the jaws could inflict a bite. Tilt his head back as far as you can.

With the pill between your index finger and thumb, use your middle finger to open the mouth.

Toss the fill as far back as possible and in the same motion push the pill even further back. Be as quick as you can to avoid an accidental bite.

Hold the mouth shut until the dog swallows.

You can encourage swallowing by stroking the neck and throat.

Be sure the pill has been swallowed before letting the dog go.

There are some tips that can be considered that might help things along.
A Pet Piller or pill gun can be purchased at your veterinarian’s office or at most pet stores. Although they can vary depending on where they are purchased, the overall method is the same. A cup like tip is used to place the pill while the other end is fixed with a trigger used to shoot the pill in the back of the mouth. The end with the pill is placed as far back into the mouth as possible. The trigger is pulled when the pill gun is in place, forcing the pill down. The purpose of the Pet Piller or pill gun is to keep your fingers out of the dog’s mouth to prevent bite wounds or getting slobber on your fingers. A muzzle can be used when giving a dog medication if he is ill tempered. Even though the mouth is forced shut with a muzzle in place, a Pet Piller can be used if the muzzle isn’t too tight. Liquid medications can still be administered with a muzzle in place by inserting the dropper or needle-less syringe in the corner of the mouth. A needle-less syringe full of water can be prepared and ready if the dog is refusing to swallow his pill. Forcing water after poking down a pill can help encourage him to swallow. Some medications can be given in food. Be sure to ask your vet if his particular medication will be effective if given in this manner as some of them need to be given directly into the mouth. Some pills can be crushed and put in a small amount of food. Smaller pills can be hidden in soft foods; however be sure that your dog has eaten the food and the pill when using this method. Some dogs are pretty crafty and will spit pills out later so watch him carefully and know that he’s getting his medicine.
If you’ve never medicated your dog before it can be scary at first and seem impossible. Very few dogs are so bad that medicating is impossible. It simply takes some getting used to proper restraint and having all supplies ready and on hand. By not making the situation in to a big ordeal and making a huge commotion, you will minimize the stress level for both you and your dog.