Medicating your dog doesn't have to be difficult. Try these steps to make giving your dog its meds as painless as possible.

By Doug Jimerson

When your dog needs medication, it's up to you to keep it healthy. Here are guidelines for giving pills and liquid meds to your pet.

Give Your Dog a Pill

Giving your dog a pill doesn't have to turn into a wrestling match with your pet. Here are some safe and simple ways to give your dog medication.

Setting the Stage A good way to restrain your dog while administering medication is to hold it between your arm and chest, securing its neck. Then, if possible, have a helper open the dog's mouth and insert the pill. It also helps if you position your dog on a table just as your veterinarian would do in the office. Make sure the dog has no risk of falling off, but having it off the floor will make it a lot easier to handle.

  1. Open up! To get your dog to open its mouth, grasp its muzzle from the top. Then, push firmly in and up on its top lip just behind its canine teeth until your pet opens its mouth. Try to roll your dog's lip inward over its teeth. That way your pet will keep its mouth open to avoid biting down on its lip.
  2. Place pill at back of throat. Holding the pill between the index and middle finger of one hand, apply pressure upward with the thumb of your other hand on the roof of your dog's mouth. Push down on the dog's lower jaw with the thumb and two free fingers of your "pill hand" while sliding the tablet deep into the throat with your middle finger.
  3. Hold dog's mouth closed. Remove your fingers and hold your dog's mouth shut. Thump sharply underneath its chin with your finger, or try rubbing its throat downward gently.
  4. Did it go down? If your dog licks its nose while you're holding its mouth shut, it probably has swallowed the medication. If the pill did not go down its throat, it will usually spit it out after you release it mouth.

Give Your Dog Liquid Meds

Patience is the key to giving your dog liquid medication.

  1. Steady the head. If possible, have someone else steady your dog's head. Tilting your pet's head slightly to one side (opposite where you're pouring in the liquid) makes administering the medicine easier.
  2.  Pull out the lower lip and pour. Pull out your pet's lower lip at one corner to form a pouch and slowly pour the liquid into that pocket. Hold your pet's mouth shut for a moment until it swallows. The liquid will seep between your pet's teeth and it will automatically swallow the medicine. Be sure your pet's head remains horizontal so the liquid won't run into its air passages.

Other Medication Methods

If your dog hates the process of pill insertion, you can try disguising pills as special treats -- in ground meat, cheese, etc. Or, look for special pill pockets at your local veterinarian or pet store. They are specially designed treats with a cavity where you can hide a treat.

Mixing drugs (either liquid or powder) with your pet's rations is not recommended. When a drug is specifically designed to be mixed with food, adding fish oil or chicken fat can help camouflage the taste. Or, mix the medicine with a small portion of your pet's food and give it those rations first, so it gets the full dosage. Always check with your veterinarian about what foods you can mix with drugs and what time of day is best for administering a specific medicine.

Also, never empty the powder out of capsules or grind up coated tablets to make them more palatable. Doing so can keep your pet from absorbing the medicine properly.

If your pet resents being given mediations, don't worry. Sooner or later, persistence will pay off. But don't start a wrestling match with your pet, or it will become much harder to treat in the future. Also, never be tempted to give your pet medication intended for humans. Give your pet only medications that are prescribed.


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