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.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.