How to get your dog to swallow tablets

Most pets will need to be given oral medication at some point. It could be because of an illness, or just part of their worming and parasite control routine. Dogs can be painfully stubborn and fussy at times, so we’ve compiled some tips to get your pet to swallow their pills.

Photo credit: luckyno3

Some medications may not be crushed, given with food, or dissolved in liquid. It’s always best to consult with a vet before trying any of these tips.

Give the tablet with your dog’s main meal

Mix the tablet into strong-smelling food that your dog especially enjoys. If the tablet is able to be crushed, sprinkle it over the food and mix it in. Meats and other wet foods are generally best because powder can stick to moist surfaces.

If your dog realizes that their food smells differently and refuses to eat it, you can conceal the smell by mixing the powdered tablet with a small amount of butter soft cheese—assuming, of course, that the dog has no dairy allergies.

Giving the tablet whole

Hiding the tablet in a small beloved treat is the best way to get your dog to eat it. Once again, you may be outwitted by your dog’s powerful sense of smell and may need to try several different treats before one adequately hides the tablet’s smell. Cooked sausage generally works quite well.

If you don’t mind wasting a tablet, you can desensitize your pet to the smell of the medication by crushing a tablet and rubbing on your dog’s nose. It’ll of course try to wipe or lick the powder off immediately, but when you give a medicated treat it may assume the smell is coming from its own nose and not detect the tablet.

Photo via Visual Hunt

Force feeding 🙁

Obviously this is unpleasant, but if a dog needs a tablet and you’ve exhausted your other strategies, force feeding may be your only option.

Do it as calmly and gently as possible. Pry open the mouth, place the tablet gently at the very back of the tongue and quickly shut its mouth. Tilting your dog’s head back, praising and petting, and gently blowing on your dog’s nose will encourage swallowing.

If you’re not comfortable with the procedure, it may be necessary to get a vet to demonstrate for you. While you’re there, ask if the medication is available in a liquid form and avoid the headache altogether.

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