How To Give Your Dog A Pill Or Capsule In 5 Easy Steps


Giving your dog medication can be a challenge. Giving the medication properly, ensuring that your pet gets what is prescribed, is very important for your dog’s health. Some dogs will eat anything and everything – including their medications. However, most dogs are reluctant to gobble down pills and capsules, especially if the pills are large, require chewing or smell bad to them. Some dogs are wary of anything unusual and will refuse all types of medications.

Ask your veterinarian for chewable or flavored medications; these may cost a little more, but can more easily be hid in food.

If your dog is not on dietary restrictions, and your veterinarian said the medication can be given with food, the easiest way to give a pill is to hide it in a piece of food. A small amount of hamburger meat, peanut butter, liverwurst, cream cheese, or cottage cheese is often used. You can also try making up tiny “meatballs” of canned dog food or tasty bits of meat. Give the dog one or two undoctored meatballs, then one with the pill. Follow up with an undoctored one so the dog will continue to take the treats even if he gets a small taste of the medicine. Canned cheese with nozzle dispensing often works too, and does not have to be refrigerated. Cutting a slit in a small chunk of cheese, roast beef or turkey and inserting the pill works as well. It’s best not to mix the medication in an entire meal, because if the dog does not eat the whole meal, he will not get the appropriate dose of medication.

Some dogs are pretty crafty and will spit the pill out later, so watch him carefully and know that he’s getting his medicine. If he does spit it out, try putting it in a different kind of food like chicken breast.

Some Human Drugs Can Be Deadly To Your Dog

Don’t give your dog ANY medication until you have spoken to your veterinarian to make sure it is the right medicine for the dog and the circumstances. You should also ask for instructions on how to give the drug and the correct dosage for your dog.

If your dog has to take his medication on an empty stomach (without food), here are some tips to make medicating him easier:

How To Give Dog A Pill

Step 1

Place the pill between the thumb and the index finger of one hand. Firmly grasp the upper jaw with the thumb and index finger of the other hand.

Step 2

Gently fold the upper lip over the teeth as you open the mouth. This will reduce the chance of being bitten.

Step 3

Rotate your wrist to tilt the head upwards. Use your middle finger to slowly open the lower jaw.

Step 4

Keep your middle finger over the small incisor teeth and deposit the pill as far back on the tongue as possible. Immediately close the mouth. Keeping your hand over the mouth, put the head down to facilitate swallowing.

Step 5

Stroke the throat or blow on the nose to encourage swallowing.

After you release his jaws, your dog may still spit out the pill if he hasn’t swallowed. If this happens, it’s probably because the pill was released too far forward on the tongue, which makes it easy for the dog to hold it in his mouth until he’s free. Repeat the steps and try to get the pill as far back on the tongue as possible.

If the pill needs to be cut in half or quarters:

Some pills are very powdery, not coated or tend to crush easily. Pills broken into powder may have an unpleasant taste that is poorly accepted. Many pills have a protective coating that is important for delayed release in the intestinal tract. We recommend getting a pill splitter that you can purchase in any pet store. The mechanism works well not only for cutting pills in half, which is easy, but into quarters as well, which is a little trickier. For round pills it would be an absolute snap. The sharp blade is literally a mini guillotine that easily cuts the pill. If you have to cut pills on a regular basis, this is something you should not be without and it’s very inexpensive.

Helpful hints:
  • Get a friend or family member to help.  
  • Medicate your dog on the floor or on a table with a non-slip surface. 
  • When administering medication stay calm – your pet can sense if you are nervous making it more difficult to apply the treatment. 
  • Always give water immediately after pilling a dog. Not only will this guarantee that your dog has swallowed the pill, it will save him a lot of pain and discomfort. 
  • Always praise your dog and give lots of hugs and kisses afterwards. Treats after pilling helps too. 
  • Holding a small dog in your lap while medicating may make the process easier. 
  • Avoid pinching your dog’s lips to force him to open his mouth. This is painful and may cause him to bite; use caution if he has a history of biting. 
  • Check with your veterinarian to make certain it is safe for you to handle the medication if you are pregnant. 
  • Follow dosage and time schedules as directed.