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How to Get Your Dog to Take His Pill

September 15, 2018

Getting your dog to take a pill can often be one of the hardest parts of owning a canine companion. Many of our dogs are very finicky about this sort of thing! Here are some tips and tricks from a Salem, VA veterinarian to help your dog swallow his pill with minimal fuss.

With Food

Oftentimes, the easiest way to have your dog swallow a pill is to hide the medicine in food. Try pressing your dog’s pill into a glob of wet dog food, into the center of a treat, or wrapping it in a roll of deli meat. With luck, your pooch will gobble up the tasty morsel without even knowing there was a pill there! Just check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog’s pill is safe to be taken with food; some medications are meant to be taken on an empty stomach. For more information on treating your dog, read our article on Giving Your Dog Treats.

The Tossing Trick

If your dog is the type to catch treats mid-air as they’re tossed at him, try using it to your advantage. Gather a few dog treats in one hand and your dog’s pill in the other. Toss a treat or two to your pooch, then the pill, then another treat or two. Do it seamlessly enough, and your dog will be totally fooled!


In some cases, you’ll be able to crush or grind up your dog’s pill into a powder, then sprinkle it over meals or stir it directly into Fido’s food. Always check with your vet first before doing this, though. Crushing a pill may make it ineffective, or—in the case of timed-release capsules—it might introduce too much medicine to your dog’s system at one time. This can prove very dangerous!

Chewable Pills

Were you aware that many pills, as well as dietary supplements, preventative medicines, and vitamins, now come in chewable and/or flavored varieties? They’re most often made to taste like a dog treat, so our canine companions tend to gobble them up happily. Check with your veterinarian to see if your dog’s medications happen to come in a chewable version.

Manual Administration

Especially picky dogs will just have to take their pill the old-fashioned way: manual administration. Gently pry open your dog’s jaws, drop the pill in the mouth, close the jaws tightly, and stroke the throat to stimulate swallowing.

Our Advice on How to Get Your Dog to Take His Pill in 2024

What are some effective methods to help a dog swallow a pill?

Effective methods to help a dog swallow a pill include hiding the medication in food, such as a piece of wet dog food or a soft treat, which can mask the pill’s presence. The tossing trick can also be effective when treats are thrown to the dog with the pill surreptitiously included. For dogs that are particularly finicky, crushing or grinding the pill (after vet approval) and mixing it with their meal can work. Alternatively, chewable or flavored pills designed to taste like treats are readily accepted by many dogs. Manual administration, though less preferred, is another method, where the pill is placed directly into the dog’s mouth, followed by gently encouraging swallowing.

How can hiding a pill in food make medication time easier for both the dog and the owner?

Hiding a pill in food simplifies medication time by leveraging a dog’s natural desire for treats, making the process stress-free for both the pet and the owner. This method disguises the medication’s taste and smell, encouraging the dog to consume it willingly with their favorite foods or treats. It eliminates the need for forceful administration, reducing anxiety and potential resistance from the dog. For the owner, it provides a straightforward, non-confrontational way to ensure their pet receives necessary treatments, fostering a positive experience during what can often be a challenging routine.

What is the tossing trick, and how can it be used to administer pills to dogs?

The tossing trick is a clever method to administer pills to dogs by incorporating the medication into a game of catch. First, gather several treats that your dog enjoys and the pill. Start by tossing a treat to your dog to catch in the air, followed by the pill disguised as or hidden within another treat, and then immediately toss another treat. This sequence encourages the dog to catch and swallow each item without pausing to inspect them closely, making it more likely for the dog to ingest the pill without realizing it. This method works best with dogs that are eager and accustomed to catching treats mid-air.

When is it not advisable to crush or grind a dog’s pill?

It is not advisable to crush or grind a dog’s pill without consulting a veterinarian, as this can alter the medication’s effectiveness. Specifically, crushing is unsuitable for timed-release capsules, which are designed to deliver medication gradually over time; grinding these could release the drug too quickly, potentially causing harm. Additionally, some medications are coated to prevent stomach irritation, and crushing them could lead to gastrointestinal upset. Always check with a veterinarian before altering a medication’s form to ensure it remains safe and effective for your pet.

What potential risks are associated with improperly crushing a dog’s medication?

Improperly crushing a dog’s medication can lead to several risks. First, it may compromise the drug’s effectiveness, either by destroying its active ingredients or altering its absorption rate. For timed-release capsules, crushing can cause the medication to be absorbed too quickly, potentially leading to an overdose. Additionally, some medications are coated to protect the stomach lining, and crushing them could result in gastrointestinal irritation or ulcers. Always consult with a veterinarian before altering any medication to ensure it’s safe and will not harm your pet.

Need help giving your dog a pill? Call your Salem, VA vet clinic today! We also offer veterinary wellness and pet vaccination services to keep your furry friend healthy.

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