How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill Without the Hassle

How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill Without the Hassle
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Dogs love food but are often picky when it comes to pills. Many people become frustrated when their precious pup won't take necessary medication, which is understandable since it can be detrimental to the dog's health. If your dog keeps eating around the pill, you're probably wondering how to get a dog to take a pill easily and without stress. 


Dogs love food. That's no secret. We have some handy ways to get your dog to take pills without the extra stress and effort. The trick? Food, comfort, and routine. Always make sure that your dog is feeling secure and confident before having them take a pill. Here's how you can do just that! 



Why Won't My Dog Take Pills?

We often think of dogs as garbage disposals. They gladly eat any of our leftovers and even chew up objects we never thought were edible. Some dogs will even eat poop! That's why it can be shocking when our pups refuse to take vital medication. 


The truth is, most dogs hate swallowing pills. Why? Some dogs don't like the taste, and others don't like the texture. Medicine just doesn't have the same appeal as other things dogs like to eat (like feces, apparently). 


This pickiness can be pretty frustrating for dog owners. These pills are often beneficial to your dog's health and well-being. While some dogs won't swallow plain old pills, there is luckily a multitude of ways to trick your pup into swallowing their medication. 



big black dog with colored pills



What Can Happen if You Force Your Dog to Take Pills? 

You never want to force your dog to take a pill. Your dog doesn't understand what a pill is or why it's so important to take it. To the dog, it is getting some weird, flavorless thing stuffed into its mouth. Some pooches may even lash out, accidentally biting you in an attempt to resist the pill.


Being forced to swallow a pill might also make your dog stressed or nervous. This could potentially traumatize your dog or make it anxious about taking pills in the future. If your dog is frightened and nervous about the thought of being forced to swallow a pill, it can make the process even more difficult. 



Can You Crush Pills for Dogs? 

If your dog refuses to swallow pills whole, it may help to crush up the pills and mix them into your dog's food. You should only try this after consulting a veterinarian. Let's look at some scenarios where it might not be a good idea to crush your pills.


Some types of tablets have an enteric coating. Other capsules must be swallowed whole so that they can be properly absorbed further down the digestive tract. In these cases, crushing up the pill will affect its potency. 


Even if you crush up a pill, some dogs will still refuse to eat it. This could be because it has a strong flavor or powdery texture they refuse to bother with. Luckily, there are many ways to help your dog take important medication without stressing them out. 



How to Get a Dog to Take Pill 

Your dog has suddenly become picky about what goes in its mouth. What gives? We have some helpful tips to help your dog take pills without the hassle!


Ensure Your Dog is Calm & Relaxed

When your dog is stressed or experiencing discomfort, it is less likely to eat. If a dog doesn't want to eat regular dog food, it likely won't be interested in a pill. Before giving your dog a pill, make sure it is calm and relaxed. There shouldn't be anything distracting or loud happening around you. 


You can help your dog feel relaxed and calm by giving them CBD  calming chews beforehand. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that it won't get your dog high. Instead, this natural cannabinoid boosts the efficacy of your dog's endocannabinoid system (ECS), helping your pooch maintain overall wellness and health. 


The ECS has receptors throughout your dog's body, including the immune, nervous, and digestive systems. That's why CBD has so many varied mental and physical benefits. 


After ingesting CBD chews, your dog will feel the effects within 30 to 90 minutes. You may notice that they are calmer and more relaxed. After taking CBD, dogs often seem rejuvenated and less sluggish due to their joints feeling soothed. 


The effects of CBD will become even stronger if you use them on a daily schedule. Try feeding your dog CBD chews or CBD oil around the same time every day (twice a day if needed). This will keep them calm and relaxed for daily pills and medication. Here is how to give your dog the proper dose of CBD they need. 


Gently Give It to Them by Hand

You should only give your dog a pill by hand if you're confident it won't bite you. Ensure your pet is in a safe and comfortable area and have the pill ready. It helps to lubricate the pill with margarine or butter (no more than a pea-sized amount). 


Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand. With your non-dominant hand, gently grasp your dog's muzzle from above. To safely grip the muzzle, place your thumb behind the canine teeth on each side of their upper jaw. Dogs' canine teeth are the two longest teeth in their mouth.


Your grip should be firm but still gentle. Tilt your pet's head toward the ceiling so that its lower jaw drops open. Press downward on their lower lip and front teeth with your dominant hand's little finger and ring finger. 


Place the pill on the back of your dog's tongue. If it's in the back of the mouth, your dog will be more likely to swallow the medicine. Right after you place the pill, hold your dog's mouth closed in its normal position. Rub your dog's nose and throat to encourage them to swallow the pill. 


Once the pill is swallowed, praise your dog and give them a treat. The goal is not to get your dog to like taking a pill, but just to tolerate it. Soon your pet will understand that taking the pill will lead to playtime and tummy rubs. If your pooch happens to wind up looking forward to the process because it knows it'll get a treat, even better!



Boston terrier being seen by vet



Mix Them in Food

You'll have a much easier time getting your dog to take a pill when it's mixed up in food they like. Whether it's regular kibble or a special treat, most dogs won't notice the hidden surprise. Some common foods that do an excellent job of masking medicine include plain yogurtboneless chicken breastliverwurst, or hotdog pieces. Opt for healthy food so you can give it to your dog every time they need to take the medication without making them sick or gain weight. If your dog won't eat, the problem may be more serious than pickiness.


So how do you get your dog to scarf down this tasty treat without suspecting anything? Easy. If you think your dog suspects a pill is coming, follow these simple steps: 


  1. Push the pill inside the treat. For example, within a piece of sausage. 
  2. Next, wash your hands to hide any trace of the pill's scent. 
  3. Get another piece of sausage or two. 
  4. Give your pet a treat without a pill in it. Your furry friend should excitedly scarf it down (if not, try a different food).
  5. Give your dog the treat that contains the medicine. 
  6. Lastly, give your dog another treat that doesn't have a pill in it. This will cover any lingering taste of the pill that may be in your dog's mouth. Your pooch will definitely be excited to do this again next time! 


Hide Them in Capsules or Pill Pockets

Some pills have a particularly strong taste that dogs can't tolerate. Yes, the same dogs that lick toilet bowl water! 


For these more potent pills, try putting them in capsules or pill pockets. Most pet stores sell treats specifically designed to hide pills inside. They are often called "pill pockets." 


You can also hide them inside treats, like a marshmallow or spoonful of peanut butter, soft chew, or another delicious morsel. Even if this doesn't hide the pill's flavor, your dog will enjoy the sweet treat so much that they might not even care!



Things to Remember When Giving Pills to Dogs

As you can see, the quickest way to a dog's heart is its stomach. And the quickest way to get your dog to take its medicine is with food! These are some of the most important things to keep in mind when giving your dog pills with food:


  • Don't pick food that is unhealthy, like cheese. You will have to give your dog this food weekly or daily along with its pills. Try to avoid treats that will make your dog unhealthy or overweight. 
  • Pick food that is easy for your dog to chew and swallow, like a soft treat or peanut butter. Crunchier food will require more chewing, and your dog might start to taste the pill more than the food. 
  • Give your pooch a treat without the pill first, so they are more willing to eat the rest of the snack. End with a pill-free treat to satisfy your dog and keep them wanting more for next time. 


You can also give your dog pills without food by putting them directly in their mouth. Only do this if you know your dog won't become anxious and overwhelmed and if you're sure it won't bite you. 


If you can't get your pooch to take a pill — even with snacks — contact your veterinarian. A vet might be able to recommend another form of medication that's easier for your dog to tolerate. Some medications even have flavors that dogs enjoy. 


View More Tips About Caring For Dogs


Final Thoughts - How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill

Dogs will eat almost anything, but that usually doesn't include pills. Medicine often has a flavor or texture dogs aren't used to. The quickest way to get your dog to take a pill? Food! 


Make sure your dog is relaxed and in a quiet area with no distractions. Give your dog CBD to keep them calm and soothed. Put the pill in a fun snack, and give your dog plenty of love and playtime after they take their medicine. 


It's essential to keep this routine each time you give your dog medicine, doing it at the same time every day. Your furry friend will soon learn that getting a pill is okay and maybe even fun. Everyone benefits from medication, and if you follow these steps, your dog will stay happy and healthy!


Read Next: Calming Pills for Dogs [Do They Work + Alternatives]

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