How to Give Your Dog Medication

Medicating a dog can be tough, especially a sick one. It is hard to medicate a dog who doesn’t want to eat or could potentially become aggressive. And many times after a visit to the Emergency Vet, you will go home with more than one medication for your dog, how stressful!

Dosing is very important to pay attention to. Make sure you read the label every time you give the medication, to double-check the dose. Some may say give one pill once a day for two weeks and then a half pill for two weeks, so pay attention to the instructions. You can even buy a pill sorter like humans use if the medication is not UV sensitive. If the pills are sensitive to sunlight or inside a foil pouch, do not open them until you are about to use them. If the instructions say to split the pills in half, make sure you use a pill cutter for exact measurements. We can supply those if you are in need of one.

Next, we will go over how to give your dog pills, liquid medication, and chewable tablets. Each type of medication is different in shape, size, and taste, so don’t expect all medications to be difficult. 

Pill Administration

Pills can be administered one of three techniques: hiding the pill, using a pill gun, or putting it in their mouth with your hand. Watch our video below to learn how to do each technique. 

Hiding the pill is the least invasive way because the dog simply is eating a treat. You can hide it in a pill pocket or wet food. You can even use safe people-food such as plain/vanilla yogurt, xylitol-free peanut butter, lunch meat, sliced or cubed cheese, chicken, fat-free cottage cheese, or any other treats that are highly coveted by your pet. Be careful because some dogs learn quickly, and will sneakily eat the treat and spit out the pill! Sometimes you can keep them fooled by rotating between a few different types of treats, but if they will not take the medication in food, you may have to move on to one of the following methods. 

Using a pill gun can be intimidating for some, but it is fast! You can purchase a pill gun at a pet store or at your vet’s office. Simply place the pill in the top area to load it, pull back on the plunger, open your dog’s mouth and push the end to release it into the back of their throat. This can be a great way to administer medication safely without having to feed them anything if they have any nausea. Syringe water into the mouth and massage the throat to ensure the pill is swallowed.

If you don’t have a pill gun or peanut butter at home, don’t worry. Stand or sit behind your dog and grab the top of the mouth with your thumb and pointer finger behind the canine teeth to open their mouth. This area is free of teeth and has a small gum area. Place your hand in the back of their mouth and throw the pill down into their throat as far as you can! If they can have a treat, make sure they are rewarded after each medication. Syringe water into the mouth and massage the throat to ensure the pill is swallowed. You should never attempt to hand-pill a pet that has shown any signs of aggression during medication administration, such as growling, lifting of the lips, or snapping. It is important that you keep yourself safe when medicating your pet, never ignore signs of discomfort or fear. 

Liquid Administration

Most liquid medication is flavored to make it easier to administer, but some dogs can still be tough. Load the syringe with the appropriate amount of medication and stand behind your dog. Many vets will draw a red or black line on the syringe to indicate where to fill it up to. Lift up your dog’s cheek and place the syringe in the back pocket next to the molars and release the medication. 

Chewable Administration

There are now a bunch of medications, preventatives, and supplements that are chewable tablets. Simply give these to your dog like a treat or hide them in food per the pill administration section. It is especially important that these medications be kept far out of reach of your pet. They taste good, and pets may be tempted to eat them all, but an overdose can be dangerous. Always call your veterinarian if you are concerned your pet may have had an overdose. 

Please contact us if you still have any questions on how to medicate your dog. Administration of ear medication or other treatments such as subcutaneous fluids will be published soon!