Throughout your dog’s life, you will need to give them medication. This might include monthly preventatives, ointments, ear or eye drops and many kinds of pills. They could need antibiotics for an infection, or medication for a chronic health condition like arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease or cancer. That may mean a lot of pills on a regular basis. You could even have to give your dog pills multiple times a day, every day. What can you do if your dog hates taking pills? We asked the experts and experienced pet owners for their best tips and tricks to make giving pills easy and stress-free.
8 stress-free tips for giving your dog a pill
- Don’t let your pup see or smell the pill
Try to get your pups medicine ready out of their site. If they see the pill bottle and remember how much they hate taking their medicine, they might run and hide, leading you to spend a lot of time chasing them out from under the couch or all over the house. Since dogs have superior senses of smell, they might also smell the medication before they see it, causing them to avoid it (and you).
- Don’t get stressed out, your dog will pick up on your anxiety Some dogs are more sensitive than others. If you’re excited or stressed they might pick up on it and become stressed as well. At pill time, try to keep yourself relaxed, don’t rush the process and speak softly to your pet. Try to allow 10-15 minutes to give your pup his pill so you don’t feel rushed. If you have to give medication and get to work on time, consider giving yourself some extra time so you don’t feel the anxiety of the clock ticking away. Your pet will have his meds, and you’ll be in before the boss is looking for you!
- Try not to give the pill at exactly the same time each day if you don’t have to Some medication needs to be given at exactly the same time each day. If your dog’s does not, try to vary the time a bit. What you’re trying to do here is prevent your pup from getting anxious because they know the pill (or medication) is coming.
- Use a pill pocket Pill Pockets are products that were specifically designed to hide pills. They’re made of ingredients similar to soft dog treats and come in flavors like chicken or peanut butter to completely cover up the pill. Your pup will think they’re just eating a delicious treat when they’re really taking their medicine. The pill pockets are designed to be less messy than other food alternatives.
- Try wrapping the pill in something delicious Pill pockets can be expensive or contain ingredients that don’t work for your pup. You can also make your own by wrapping your pup’s pills in things like hot dogs, lunch meat, cream cheese, Easy Cheese, or even hiding medication in fresh food like Ollie.
- For chewable pills, crush them and hide them in your dog’s food This tip works especially well if you feed wet or fresh food. You could also hide the crushed pill in yogurt or even a small bite of ice cream if you need something really tempting. Just make sure that your pup doesn’t pick out or spit out the pill and just eat the food.
- Reward your pet for taking their pills with a special treat If you can’t hide your pet’s medication in food because it needs to be taken on an empty stomach, try rewarding them for taking it. This could be something non-food, like a favorite toy or activity. If your pet is able to eat with their meds, feel free to give a favorite treat to help them forget about the yucky medicine. If they can’t have treats, maybe a belly rub will be a welcome distraction?
- Ask your vet or vet tech for help If none of the above tricks work and you’re struggling to get your pet to take their medicine, speak with your vet or vet tech. They’re experts and can provide some support. Whether it’s recommending a different approach or changing your pet’s medication, they are here to support you and help your pet live a happy, healthy, stress-free life!
While there are plenty of tricks to try here before you choose one or two to try, run them past your dog’s vet. Make sure that your plans are in the best interest of your dog. Some medication needs to be taken with food, and others on an empty stomach. You also want to make sure you’re not crushing medication that should be swallowed whole, or wrapping a pill in something that will make it less effective or make your pup sick. The goal is that over time, your pup won’t make a big deal about taking their medicine. While it might never be their favorite activity, hopefully, these tips will help make taking medicine less stressful and time-consuming!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.