How can I get my Dog to Take Medication?

dog laying on a rug

Getting a dog, or any pet, to take medication can be a challenge. Medications for dogs come in several forms including pills, liquids, suppositories, and injectables. Always discuss the medication options with your veterinarian when your pet needs to take medication, because the veterinarian may have some suggestions or be able to prescribe a medication in a different, easier to take form. Some pharmacies also offer flavored medication: you can get liquid medication which tastes good, making the process much easier.

There are different techniques to use depending on what kind of medication is being administered, but the most important thing to remember as a pet owner is that you should remain calm when giving your dog medication, and that you want the dose to end up in the pet, not on yourself, the furniture, or the ceiling. Staying calm also keeps your dog calm. If you approach it with an upbeat, relaxed attitude, you can often get it to take the medication before it even realizes what has happened. Being calm will also give it a positive association with taking medication.

puppies in a basket

If you are giving your dog a pill, the easiest way to get it to take it is to hide it in something else. Wet food, a small piece of meat, or another treat can cover up a pill very easily, although you should check with your vet to make sure that treats are OK. The treat will conceal the pill itself along with the flavor, and is much easier to give than a plain pill. If you cannot give your dog a treat and must administer the pill plainly, you should use the method for administering liquid medication.

Getting a dog to swallow liquid medication can be a challenge. Start by securing your pet: if it is small, squat on the floor with the it in between your legs and your legs crossed so that it cannot back out. If it is larger, enlist an assistant to hold it. Draw the liquid medication up into an oral syringe in the required dosage. If you can get the dog to open its mouth, gently squirt the medication down its throat. If it resists opening its mouth, slide the syringe in behind the back teeth. Gently massage the its throat to make sure that the medication has been swallowed.

If your dog has been prescribed a suppository or injection, your veterinarian will instruct you in how to use it. In both cases, make sure to wear gloves so that your hands are clean, and follow the directions exactly so that you do not accidentally hurt your animal. With intramuscular injections, most vets will demonstrate the technique you need to use in order to give the medication safely and painlessly.

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