Giving pills to dogs

How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill

If you share your life with a dog, there will come a time when you have to give it a pill. The reality is that most dogs are reluctant to take medication especially if they need to chew the pills, if they are large or smell funny. The situation can become very stressful for both you and your dog, that might try to put up a fight. If you want to make this a more bearable task, read on. We'll tell you how to give a dog a pill here at OneHowTo.

You may also be interested in: How to Give My Dog Syrup

Steps to follow:


The first thing is to get your dog to associate taking pills with receiving rewards. If you give your furry friend a treat every time it swallows a pill, it will soon become less reluctant. You can give him a dog biscuit, or even a toy that it loves in order to get it used to associating pills with positivity.

Remember to reward your dog with affection for a job well done; this will make it more inclined to cooperate. Dogs have a knack for spitting any substances they find strange out of their mouth, it's pure survival instinct. If you want to make sure that your dog takes medication, ensure that the whole experience is positive.

How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill - Step 1

When you have to give your dog pills, if possible, choose chewable medications because they often have flavours that are less unpleasant. It also has the added benefit that your dog might believe it is some treat.

Another way of giving pills is to mix them with their food. You could add a little tinned food to its feed and place the pill inside. We do recommend mashing it a little before mixing it.

If these tricks do not work, you could try a treat-catching game. Take a handful of doggy treats and gently toss so that your dog catches them. Then, instead of throwing a treat, throw the pill. It may think that this is part of a fun game and might swallow the pill without any problems.

How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill - Step 2

If you have tried the previous methods, to no avail, you have no option but to open your pet's mouth and insert the pill inside directly. Have a bowl of their favourite food at hand so that it can tuck into its tasty food as a reward. A good way to mask the bitter taste of the medicine is to buy gel-coated tablets, sold in pet shops.

Some veterinarians recommend that the best time to give medication to your dog is when it is distracted. If your dog isn't paying much attention, you could open its mouth without much problem and put the tablet on its tongue. You should do this in a matter of seconds. If you beat about the bush, it will become aware that you are trying to give it something that it does not like.

How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill - Step 3

This technique is effective to give your dog pills from time to time; however, if your dog needs to take daily medication, it will end up resisting. As soon as it sees you with the pill, it will make a run for it. Your best option is to teach your dog to swallow the medication and the best way to do this is by using some food.

Cut pieces of chicken, for example, into small pieces and feed them directly to your dog. You should repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times so that your pet gets used to receiving food directly into the mouth, which will make the process less stressful.

How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill - Step 4

For your pet to take your medication, you must hold the tablet between your fingers. Place your hand on its lower jaw and the other at the top, then lift its head to look at the ceiling. Once in this position, open your dog's mouth and place the pill on his tongue. Then, remove the hand immediately and close its jaw.

Keep its mouth shut, with one hand holding its nose (not covering its nostrils) as it faces the ceiling, and use your other hand to gently rub its throat to help it swallow. Once you know that your dog has swallowed the pill, don't forget to reward it with a treat. Watch your pet for a few minutes to make sure it doesn't spit out the pill. Many dogs keep the pill in their mouth and spit it out as soon as you leave.

How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill - Step 5

If you want to read similar articles to How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill, we recommend you visit our Pets category.


  • Don't lose patience, it will be hard but your dog will end up swallowing the pill. It is very important to stay calm or your dog might get even more nervous.
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How to Get a Dog to Swallow a Pill