How to Give Your Dog a Pill

by Janice Jones     |Last Updated 02-10-2020

At some point, you will need to give your dog a pill.  Even the healthiest dogs get sick from time to time, and the most common type of medication prescribed is in tablet form. 

It does not have to be difficult, but it can be stressful to the dog who hates to take medicine.  This also makes it frustrating for you. Dogs do not understand that you are trying to help them—all they know is they do not like what you are doing.

There are a few different ways you can give your dog a pill.  Pick the easiest method for yourself.

How to Give Your Dog a Pill

Hide the Pill in a Favorite Food

Cheese, peanut butter or hot dogs work very well for concealing a pill. 

  1. Wrap the food around the pill or embed the pill into the food.  Cut another piece or two of the food as a reward.
  2. Give one piece of food without the pill.
  3. Give the food with the medicine inside.
  4. Reward with one smaller piece of food.

Hide the Pill in a Commercially Available Product

If your dog likes the taste of Pill Pockets, and I have not seen a dog yet that does not, keep a bag handy for times when administrating medication becomes necessary.  They do dry out easily, so be sure to seal the bag or place the content into a sealed container.

  1. Place the food inside the pill pocket and pinch the opening with your fingers.
  2. Give it to your dog.
  3. Praise your dog.

Pill Pockets

Pill Pockets come in different sizes and flavors such as chicken and peanut butter.   

Pick one that is right for your dog.

You can purchase directly from this site by clicking on the image to the left.

Place the Pill into the Dog's Mouth

Many dogs will not mind getting a pill placed in their mouth.  As long as the medicine is put far back in the throat, they will just swallow and never taste the pill.

  1. Place the tablet between your thumb and forefinger.
  2. Open the dog’s mouth by gently tilting the head upward.  Open the mouth just behind the two canine teeth.
  3. Put the pill as far back in the throat as you can reach.
  4. Close the mouth and stroke the throat to encourage the dog to swallow the pill.  If the dog licks his lips with his tongue, you can be confident that your dog took the pill.
  5. Praise the dog

Use a Pill Syringe to Give Your Dog a Pill

This method is only for dogs that are likely to bite.  You might also find them  called pet pillers,  pill poppers or pill guns.  They are a syringe with a rubber tip that is flexible enough to hold a tablet or capsule.

  1. Place the pill at the end of the pill syringe.
  2. Open the dog’s mouth as above
  3. Place the syringe as far back as you can and release the plunger
  4.  Close the dog’s mouth and stroke his throat.
  5.  Praise

This one is good for administering pills, capsules and even liquids.  If you have a cat, this product works especially well with cats.  I like it because it is easy to handle and fits nicely into your hand.

Make a Meatball

  1.  Chilled dog food is easier to handle, but chilling is not necessary.
  2. Crush the pill using the end of a regular household utensil until it is the consistency of powder
  3. Mix about a teaspoon or less of dog food with the powder
  4. Form into a meatball
  5. Give to the dog
  6. Praise

About Janice

Janice is the voice behind Miracle Shih Tzu. Having lived with dogs and cats most of her life, she served as a veterinary technician for ten years in Maryland and twelve years as a Shih Tzu dog breeder in Ohio.

Her education includes undergraduate degrees in Psychology with a minor in biology, Early Childhood Education, and Nursing, and a master's in Mental Health Counseling.

She is a lifelong learner, a dog lover, and passionate about the welfare of animals. Her favorite breed for over 50 years has been the Shih Tzu.

When not writing, reading, or researching dog-related topics, she likes to spend time with her eight Shih Tzu dogs, her husband, and her family, as well as knitting and crocheting. She is also the voice behind Small Dog Place and Smart-Knit-Crocheting.