VCA Animal Hospitals

Tips for giving your dog medicine

Published: Oct 12, 2012

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Whether you have a dog or a cat, odds are you'll have to give him medication at some point. Of course, some animals will not give their owners any problems and will take whatever form of medication (pill, tablet, liquid, etc.) they need easily. However, that's not always the case.

When it comes to giving medication to dogs, pet health experts say there are some tricks to making sure they eat what you give them. Some pet owners can simply put a pill, capsule or tablet into their dog's bowl at mealtime and watch him gobble it up. Others will have to be a bit more proactive.

"Hiding" the medicine in some food can be a successful strategy for some. This can be done by putting the medication in the middle of some cheese, bread, peanut butter or some wet dog food, and making a ball. Veterinarians often recommend feeding the dog a few pieces of the treat without the medication before sneaking it in, as well as giving him some un-tampered with treats afterwards.

According to WebMD Pets, there are also treat-like products available at your local pet supply retailer that may make it easier to give your dog a pill. Some brand names include Pill Pockets and Flavor Doh.  

Vets often don't recommend breaking pills up for finicky animals, as they often won't taste very appetizing. Additionally, according to the Seattle Times, pills with a protective coating are formulated for a timed-release and tampering with the coating could affect it.

While hiding the medication in some food may be helpful, it's important to remember that some medications need to be taken on an empty stomach. If this is the case, you likely will have to work a bit harder to get your canine friend to swallow it.

If you have to give your dog his medication manually, there are ways to ensure he swallows it. The Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine suggests tilting the dog's head back and using your hands to open his mouth first. Then, fold the animal's upper lip over the teeth so if he bites down, he'll bite his lip instead of your fingers first. Place the pill as far back in the mouth as possible and close the dog's mouth and hold it closed. To get him to swallow, try blowing sharply on his nose while stroking his neck.

Giving a dog a liquid medication can also be challenge. Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Wilson told the Seattle Times that using a syringe or dropper to measure and administer it is a good strategy. Again, hold the dog's snout up and squeeze the liquid into the animal's mouth between the cheek and teeth, as far back as possible. Remember to hold the nose up and hold the mouth closed and try to get the animal to swallow it by blowing on his nose and stroking his throat.

Some medications, like those to treat canine diabetes, may require you to give the animal a shot. If this is the case, it's a good idea to ask your vet for a lesson on giving shots to dogs.
 

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