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Making the Medicine Go Down: Giving Your Dog His Medicine

Nothing strikes fear into a dog owner more than the words, "Give these pills to your dog twice a day for the next ten days."

I have to stick my hand in that mouth?" you think. "No way!

Giving a pill to their dog is probably one of the most difficult things dog owners will need to do over the course of their pet's lifetime. Just the thought of having to jam their fingers into their dog's mouth can cause heart palpitations!

Take heart: with a little practice, it is possible. So have your veterinarian demonstrate the technique, then take a deep breath and go for it!

Tricks of the Trade

Dogs can be a bit easier to medicate than cats because they are typically less particular about what goes in their mouths. So, if you can't stand the thought of sticking your hand in your dog's mouth, try these tips for making that pill easier to swallow:

Pills into a liquid

Many veterinarians are able to crush pills and put them into a flavored suspension. Be sure to ask your vet if they offer this service.

The Meatball Treat

Make a meatball out of your dog's favorite canned food, or use a wedge of soft cheese or a scoop of peanut butter. Shove the pill into it. Have your dog sit and stay. Then praise him heartily while giving him the "treat." In most instances, he'll just assume he's getting an extra special reward! If the prescription is for several days, alternate the commands and rewards.

Toss and Catch 

If your dog will catch a treat thrown to him, try making a game out of giving your dog a pill. Toss him a dog food meatball, a wedge of cheese, or a piece of liverwurst, then toss him another with the pill lodged in it.


Some dog medicines should not be taken with food, so check with your veterinarian before trying these tricks.

The Liquid Medicine Alternative

While most prescriptions from your veterinarian will come in pill form, you can get them in liquid form. Giving your dog a liquid medicine can be a lot easier than a pill. Compounding pet pharmacies work with your veterinarian to create a liquid formulation of the medicine prescribed to your dog.

We've all seen the ads about pharmacies flavoring kid's medicines so they're more likely to take it without complaint. Imagine how happy your dog would be taking his medicine if it tasted like chopped liver, bacon, peanut butter, or cheese!

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