So your dog hasn’t been feeling well and the vet prescribed some pills for you to give them. Great! This medication will have your dog feeling better in no time. There’s only one problem, your dog refuses to swallow the pill!
This is a problem just about every dog owner runs into at some point. Isn’t it funny how it seems like a dog will eat everything EXCEPT a pill? There’s a good chance a friend or family member told you to try to hide the pill in food, but that doesn’t always work.
Luckily there are plenty of other options. Most of them do involve hiding the pill in food, but they each have a unique twist that will trick your dog into taking a pill
How To Give a Dog a Pill When They Refuse
A lot of these involve using food as a decoy. Make sure your dog doesn’t see you hiding the pill in the food and make sure you also wash your hands before giving the food to your dog. A lot of dogs will be able to smell the medication on your hand, and that will turn them off from eating the food.
1: Hide it in SMELLY Food
Have you ever tried hiding a pill in food and your dog either rejected the food or immediately spit the pill out? The reason could be because you used food that wasn’t too smelly. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and can quickly tell when something doesn’t belong. If you put the pill in smelly food such as tuna or cheese, the scent of the smelly food might outweigh the scent of the medicine.
2: Walk Time is Your Best Opportunity
For dogs that still aren’t eating the smelly food with the pill hidden in it, you should take them for a walk and then try giving them the food with the pill after a few minutes.
This method increases the chances of your dog taking the pill because their sense of smell is already on overload from everything else outside, they most likely won’t even notice the smell of the medicine.
Don’t give it to them right away on the walk, make sure you wait a few minutes for them to start exploring.
3: Treat Catch Game
If you have an athletic dog, they are going to love this! You’ll want to play a game of “catch” with them using food. The food doesn’t matter much as long as you can hide it in food. One of the best foods you can use for this method is hot dogs.
Slice up one hot dog into about six pieces. Have your dog sit and then throw him three pieces (one at a time) without the pill in it. For the fourth piece, include the pill. Your dog’s guard will be down by the time you throw them the piece with the pill, and they most likely won’t even notice. After you toss them that slice, go ahead and toss them the final two slices.
The reason this method works so well is because your dog views this as a game and dogs sure do love games! It will also make it much harder for your dog to sniff out the pill. If you let them eat it out of your hand instead of tossing it to them, that will give them too much time to sniff out the pill, and they might reject it.
4: Buy Gel Caps
I read about this method a few months ago, and it surprisingly worked very well. You can buy a bunch of gel caps on Amazon for dirt cheap. Place one of the pills in the gel cap and then hide it in food.
The gel cap does two things. First, it lessens the intensity of the scent, so your dog won’t be quite as suspicious. Second, gel caps are tasteless. Many dogs refuse to swallow pills because they hate the bitter taste. When a gel cap touches their tongue, they won’t even notice.
5: Make Them Jealous
If you have two dogs, you know how jealous dogs get when you feed one but not the other. This method works best if you have two dogs, but it will still work if you only have one. You’ll just need another human with you.
Prepare two treats (again, something like a hot dog). Place the pill in one of the treats. Give the treat without the pill to the dog (or person) that doesn’t need it. Make sure the dog that does require the medicine watches you feed the other dog/person.
They will immediately become jealous and want the same thing. When they start begging, give them the treat with the pill in it. Even if they notice the pill they will likely still eat it because they assume that’s what the other dog just ate.
6: Have Pill Compounded Into Liquid
We don’t recommend this method too often because it can be expensive and the methods above work just about every time. However, if none of those methods work, you can have the pills compounded into a flavorful liquid.
All you have to do is ask your vet if they offer this service. If they don’t, they can point you in the right direction to get it done.
7: Last Resort – Ask The Vet
Your vet has no doubt run into this issue time and time again. It’s worth asking them if they have any tips or tricks that might help your dog swallow the pill.
They may recommend you force feed it to them, but make sure you do not do this unless your vet shows you the proper technique. Many dog owners try this on their pet and end up causing them to choke or causing their dog to involuntarily bite them…both of which we want to avoid!
Trick Then Treat
Getting your dog to swallow a pill is all about tricking them. Don’t feel too bad though, they are getting a treat out of it! If none of the methods above worked, feel free to get creative and try your own method. The key is to get your dogs guard down so they think they are getting a treat, not medicine.
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