How to Help a Reluctant Pet Take Medication

How to get dog to eat medicineAside from the dreaded task of tooth brushing, many pet owners struggle with administering medications. Most animals don’t like their mouths touched, and there are times when no amount of treats or promises will convince a pet to take medication. However,understanding your options and learning simple tips for pills and capsules can be useful.

What are Your Options?

Oral medications generally come as a pill, capsule, chewable tablet, or in liquid form. If your pet is particularly resistant when it comes to swallowing a pill, ask the team at Schertz Animal Hospital if a liquid alternative is available.

Dosage is also important. Antibiotics, for example, must be administered until all pills are gone; otherwise, you risk decreasing their effectiveness. Pets who require multiple meds each day will need a schedule, unlike medications that are taken on an “as needed” basis.

The better you understand the prescribed medications, dosage, frequency, and possible side-effects, the more confident you will be when preparing your pet’s treatment.

Simple Steps to Help Your Pet Take Medication

  1. Choose a time when your pet is relaxed. While there may be certain requirements surrounding the medication, waiting for your pet to be in a relaxed state is a good idea. Try waiting until bedtime or going for a long walk or playing an energetic game beforehand.
  2. Conceal the pill. Delicious snacks are one of the best tactics at your disposal. To help your pet take medication, try hiding it in a dollop of mashed sweet potato or peanut butter. Some treats also serve as pill pockets. They’re typically small, which is great for pets who need to watch their weight!
  3. Crush the pill. Unless it must be swallowed whole, you can open up a capsule or crush a pill and mix it in with wet food. Just keep in mind that your pet will need to eat all of the food to get the entire dosage of medication.
  4. Learn to give pills by mouth. If you must give your pet a pill orally, practice and patience will be in order. Sit beside your pet and place one hand between the upper and lower teeth, towards the back of the mouth. Gently open the mouth and place the pill on the very back of the tongue. Close the mouth and stroke your pet’s throat to encourage him or her to swallow.
  5. Know how to dispense liquid medications. To help your pet take medication in liquid form, follow the same basic instructions for administering meds by mouth. Be sure to carefully measure out your pet’s dosage. Angle the syringe toward the back of the mouth and release the liquid. Stroke your pet’s throat to ensure all the medication is swallowed.

No matter which approach you take, don’t forget to give lots of praise. Consider rewarding your furry friend with a favorite treat, game, or snuggle. This will encourage a positive association with medication time.

Please contact us if your pet continues to resist or you’re at risk of being bitten. Some owners also choose to board their pets at our facility when medication is needed for a week or two.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns!

— Update: 19-03-2023 — found an additional article Best Tips on How to Give your Dog a Pill from the website for the keyword how to get dog to eat medicine.

So your vet has prescribed your dog with oral medications in the form of *gasp!* — PILLS. While there are lucky pet parents who have no problem giving pills to their dog, there are countless stories of those who have tried a variety of tricks up their sleeves just to be able to get their dog to take a pill, often to no avail.

You are not alone in this predicament. We hear you, which is why we have gathered some tips, tricks, and hacks on getting a dog to take a pill smoothly. But before we start, one more thing to mention.

Be mindful of your vet’s instructions

First and foremost, we pet parents need to understand and follow the directions that our vet has given when it comes to giving a pill. If your vet tells you that you should mix a mediation with a meal, we should do just that. On the other hand, the vet may prescribe a medicine that a dog should take on an empty stomach.

Another example is if you were told to give your dog a pill twice a day, which is different from when your vet asks you to give two pills once a day. You should be aware of all these nuances to avoid causing harm to your dog. Different medications have varying instructions, and how to give them to our dogs may also depend on their specific needs.

Read more  Do Dogs Need Flea and Tick Medicine? - A Comprehensive Guide

It is equally important to finish the prescription, especially when it comes to antibiotics. You shouldn’t combine some medications with other drugs or supplements. If you feel confused, it is best to clarify with your vet to avoid misunderstandings.

Or you can ask about prescribed medications dosage, frequency, and other nuances any time you have a question with Online Vet – 24/7 veterinarian help from Petcube.

Tips and tricks on how to give a dog a pill

While you want to make sure that your dog takes their prescribed pills, it is essential to make it a positive experience nevertheless. You can do so by adding more treats, increasing playtime and exercise, among other options. Remember that it may also take practice, so patience is vital. Below are some of the tricks that you can apply when giving your dog a pill:

Hide the pill in your dog’s food

When it comes to how to get a dog to take a pill without them actually noticing, hiding the medicine in their food might just do the trick, especially if your dog has a healthy appetite. Generally, it’s best to choose food with strong flavors that can easily be lumped to hide the pill inside. Ideally, you should start giving a few pieces of the specific food or treat first before giving them the one with a tablet inside.

Give it just before their daily walk

Many dogs can’t contain their excitement when they know that you’re about to walk them. Because they’re distracted, this is an opportune time to give your dog a pill. You can give it as soon as you step out the door, or maybe at the park where he’ll be busy looking at the surroundings. Remember to bring some treats with you so you can use them together with the pill.

Pretend to eat the hidden pill

Whenever you are eating, you’ve probably noticed that your dog always wants what you are having. You can use this to your advantage. Hide the pill inside the food, and pretend to eat it. At this point, your dog is likely eagerly expecting or even begging you to give them some. It is the perfect time to plop the treat with the pill as your dog excitedly gobbles it up.

Invite their canine friend

If you have another dog, call them over for snack time. When there’s some competition for getting food, dogs tend to be more eager to eat. Give a few pieces to both of them first. Afterwhich, you can then give the snack with the pill to your dog.

Ask your vet for a palate-friendly pill

Nowadays, innovations have been made, including oral medications that are pleasant to your dog’s taste buds. If palate-friendly pills are available for the kind of medication your dog needs, especially if your dog is choosy when it comes to what to ingest, it may be the simplest way to medicate them.

Best food to hide dogs pill in

One of the most effective ways on how to get a dog to swallow a pill is hiding it in a well-loved food treat. If all goes well, Fido won’t be able to bite into the tablet and taste its bitterness upon ingesting it.

Do note that before you decide to use food to hide a pill, make sure that it’s okay to be given with that particular medicine. For example, tetracycline (a kind of antibiotic) should not be mixed with dairy products because calcium in dairy has binding properties that may prevent your dog from absorbing the full benefits of the medicine.

It might not be a good idea to use regular food that you serve your dog. How come? Because if ever your dog happens to bite into the pill inside it, they might start to avoid their food because they’ll be reminded of the last time when they tasted something bitter in it.

Below are some examples of the best foods to hide dog pills in:

  • Liverwurst

The flavor of liverwurst is enticing for a lot of dogs. And because of its soft meat nature, you can easily roll it into a ball and insert the pill in the middle.

  • Peanut Butter

Among the favorite treats of many canines, peanut butter is a good choice. It’s sticky, so you can easily hide a pill inside a dollop or ball of peanut goodness. Make sure it doesn’t contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.

To learn whether peanut butter and peanuts as a whole are fine for dogs, see here.

  • Cheese

If you choose to give your doggo a pill with cheese, go for a soft, low in calories and sodium, sort such as mozzarella. Soft cheeses make it easy to insert a pill. You can make a ball of cheese and put the pill at the center. Although your Fido might cheat a bit, eating cheese and omitting a tablet as a whole, give it a try.

  • Specialized treats

You can find several flavorful treats with holes inside them where you can easily insert pills. Cool, isn’t it? Not only do they come in a variety of tasty flavors, but most also contain balanced nutrition and lower amounts of sugar and sodium as compared to human food. It is best always to check labels and go for those with quality ingredients that would benefit your dog.

Read more  Best Tips on How to Give your Dog a Pill

Just a tip: To avoid your dog getting suspicious, give the treat that contains the pill in the middle of giving the same treats without medication. Do so quickly as well to avoid them examining the treats.

How to give a dog a pill without food

If you’re wondering how to pill an uncooperative dog or how to get a dog to take a pill when he doesn’t want to eat, it’s best to do it the way vets do. But how exactly do they do it? Below are some techniques in simple steps:

  1. Hold your dog securely (ideally with the help of another person, but you can also do it by yourself).

  2. In a calm yet confident manner, hold your dog’s upper jaw and carefully lift it upwards.

  3. By this time, your dog should be looking upwards. You will most likely observe that your dog’s lower jaw is a bit open. There a couple of options: a) Using your fingers, hold your dog’s upper jaw just behind their canines, causing their mouth to open. With the help of your other hand, insert the pill as far as you could inside your dog’s mouth. b) The other option is to use your hand with the pill in it, put your fingers beneath your dog’s teeth, and place the tablet as far as you can push.

  4. Now, close your dog’s jaw and gently rub their throat.

What you want to happen is to be able to place the pill at the back of your dog’s tongue so that they will inevitably swallow the tablet. If your dog hasn’t swallowed the pill yet up to that point, use a syringe to squirt a little water further into your dog’s mouth for them to be encouraged to gulp the tablet with the water. Another option is to use a pill pusher that may be available at your veterinary clinic.

— Update: 06-04-2023 — found an additional article 11 Hacks to Get Your Dog to Take Medicine from the website for the keyword how to get dog to eat medicine.

If you’ve ever had to administer medicine to your pup, you probably already know that it isn’t always easy.

Thankfully over the years, dog owners, veterinarians, and pet food manufacturers have devised a number of techniques that can make it easier to give your dog medicine without him throwing a fit.

We’ve listed some of the most effective techniques below:

1. Sausages

How to get dog to eat medicine

Any type of dog-safe sausage, bratwurst, or hot dog can make a great hiding place for a small pill or capsule. Most dogs tend to just gulp down small slices of these treats, which will help prevent them from tasting the bitter pill inside.

Just be sure to check the ingredient list first and verify that the sausages don’t contain garlic, onions, or other doggo no-nos. Also, note that dogs who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, and other health conditions that are worsened by fat should avoid sausages.

2. Peanut Butter

How to get dog to eat medicine

Most dogs love peanut butter, and its rich taste and smell can help mask the bad taste of some liquid medications. You could even crush up a tablet and mix it in with some xylitol-free, dog-safe peanut butter, assuming your vet blesses this approach (some pills should not be broken or crushed).

Be sure to use creamy peanut butter, as dogs may try to chew crunchy varieties, which could cause them to taste the pill.

3. Cheese

How to get dog to eat medicine

A small cheese cube is one of the best ways to get your dog to wolf down a foul-tasting tablet. American, cheddar or Swiss are probably the best options, but I’ve always found Babybel cheeses (or pieces thereof) work perfectly.

Some dogs can experience digestive difficulty after eating cheese, so avoid giving them gigantic pieces, unless you are sure your pup’s tummy can tolerate it.

4. Animal Skins

How to get dog to eat medicine

Many dogs would sell their soul for a bit of cooked chicken or salmon skin, and these items can be very effective for hiding pills or dog vitamins.

Just cook up the skins on a cookie sheet until they are slightly crispy, wrap them around the pill in a tight ball and give your dog the tasty treat. The fats in the skin will help disguise most of the bad-tasting medicine.

As with sausages, animal skins are not appropriate for dogs who have medical conditions that require them to eat a low-fat diet.

5. Pill Pockets

How to get dog to eat medicine

Greenie’s, Milk-Bone and several other manufacturers produce great-tasting treats that are specifically designed to hold a pill or capsule inside.

In addition to being delicious for your dog, many of these canine pill pocket products can be molded so that they completely surround the medicine, which will help prevent the gross medicine from touching your dog’s mouth very much.

6. Canned Food

How to get dog to eat medicine

If your dog’s medicine comes in liquid form, you can simply mix it in with a bit of canned food. You needn’t feed your dog a whole can; in fact, you probably shouldn’t.

Just offer your dog enough canned food to adequately mask the taste of the medicine to ensure your dog gets the full dose – a couple of tablespoons will usually do.

Read more  11 Hacks to Get Your Dog to Take Medicine

If your dog’s medicine comes in capsule form, you may want to ask your vet about opening the capsule and pouring the contents in with your dog’s canned food. This is safe to do with some medications, but others must be kept intact.

7. Treats

How to get dog to eat medicine

You can force a hard tablet into just about any soft dog treat and then give it to your dog. I like Canine Carry Outs for this purpose, but they have to be fresh to stay together once the pill is inside.

Try to use the smallest treats possible, so your dog will spend less time chewing on it before swallowing.

8. Pill Droppers

How to get dog to eat medicine

Pill poppers or “pill guns,” as they are sometimes called, are essentially long syringe-like tools that are used to deposit a pill or squirt some liquid medication into the back of your dog’s throat.

This helps prevent your dog from tasting the medicine, but it can be tricky to get the hang of these tools.

9. Capsules

How to get dog to eat medicine

If your dog only needs to take a small amount of liquid medication, you may be able to squirt it into small gel caps. This will keep your dog from tasting the medicine, and may make the entire process easier.

10. Hand Delivery

How to get dog to eat medicine

If your dog won’t fall for treats or any of the other tips listed above, you may need to just take matters into your own hands – literally.

Gently open your dog’s mouth, place the pill on the very back of his tongue and close his mouth. Gently rub his throat until he sticks his tongue out, and you are done. It can also be helpful to squirt a tablespoon or so of water in your dog’s mouth before closing it to help stimulate swallowing. 

Obviously, you shouldn’t attempt this approach if you are afraid your dog may bite you.

11. Trick Them With Too Many Treats

How to get dog to eat medicine

Try feeding your dog several normal treats in a row before dropping in the medicine-filled treat – now that he’s in the habit of gulping down what you’re giving him, he may not even think twice about the decoy treat.

If your dog is good at catching treats you toss to him, this technique can be even more effective! Just start firing treats at him, and mix in the medicine-filled one somewhere in the sequence. 

Also make sure to watch this video below for vet-recommended strategies to get your dog to swallow those pills!

Universal Tips For Getting Your Dog to Eat Pills

No matter which of the above hacks you decide upon, there are a few universal tips to remember when giving your dog his medicine.

The smellier and richer the treat is, the better it will mask the taste of the pill. You may even want to combine something pungent and something savory to help completely mask the medication’s taste. For example, you may combine a slice of hot dog with a little sliver of feta cheese.

Keep an eye on the extra calories you are providing. While you probably don’t have to worry about giving your Great Dane a few chicken skins a day for a 10-day course of antibiotics, your 5-pound Yorkie who will need to take pills for the rest of his life may start to pack on the pounds if you aren’t careful.

Use the three-treat method for finicky four-footers. The three-treat method involves giving your dog a treat without a pill to gain his trust, then giving him a treat with a pill and then giving him another treat without a pill. This can help Jedi-mind-trick him into thinking he really didn’t taste a pill in that second treat.

Avoid making pilltime stressful. Trying to convince your dog to take a pill can be frustrating, but you’ll need to do your best to provide plenty of positive reinforcement, praise, and petting, to keep your dog as relaxed as possible. As hard as it may be now, stressing your pup out will only make things worse.

Work with Your Veterinarian

If none of the above strategies are working, and medication time is proving to be a chore, reach out to your vet for assistance. He or she may be able to give you tips that will make the process proceed more smoothly.

At other times, it may be possible for your vet to change the prescription. For example, some medications are available in more than one form; if your dog doesn’t like taking a liquid medication, your vet may be able to contact the pharmacy (or an online pet pharmacy) and have them prepare the medication in tablet or capsule form.

Pharmacists can also occasionally flavor medications to make them less objectionable.


Have you ever had to go to great lengths to get your dog to take his medicine? Most of the dogs for which I’ve cared have been willing to take anything concealed in a piece of cheese, but I have had a few that required hand delivery.

Tell us about your experiences – especially if you have a tip or trick we’ve neglected to mention!