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Michael Dym, V.M.D.
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Dr. Michael Dym
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How To Give Your Pet A Pill

While pets may seem to be indiscriminate about eating what they find on the ground, they tend to be much more choosy when it comes to medication. If you’re struggling with getting your pet to take their meds, it may be difficult to give pills on time, or it may be difficult to make sure they get their complete dose. Use these tips to give your pet a pill like a pro.

Conceal Pills With Food
Many medications can be given with food. Hiding a pill in food makes it easier for your pet to take, and also can help reduce gastric upset associated with certain medications.
Dogs and cats both have a sense of smell that’s much more acute than a human’s, but their sense of taste is actually quite poor compared to ours. To convince your pet to take a bitter-tasting pill, appeal to their sense of smell with something potent, like meaty or fishy canned food, a bite of cheese, or a dab of peanut butter.
Pill pockets are great to have on-hand when you’re on the go or too busy to maneuver smelly, messy foods. They come in potent flavors like tuna, salmon, peanut butter, and beef to conceal the taste of a pill, and they can be pinched closed to help keep your pet from eating around the pill.
If your pet learns to eat the treat and spit out the pill, you’ll need to outsmart them. Try giving your pet three treats in quick succession: the first, without a pill to gain their trust, then the second, loaded with medication. Your pet will quickly swallow the pill-loaded treat to snatch up a third, pill-less “chaser” treat.

Pilling Your Pet
If your pet’s medication must be taken without food, or your pet spits it out even when concealed in a treat, “pilling” your pet is a quick and easy way to administer medication orally once you get the hang of it.
To pill your pet, gently tilt their head upwards. Gently grasp your pet’s muzzle from above with one hand, then use your other hand to place the pill as far back on their tongue as possible. Then, gently hold your pet’s mouth closed until they swallow.
To encourage your pet to swallow, it can help to stroke their nose, prompting them to lick your finger, sending the pill down their throat. Gently blowing into their nose can also stimulate them to swallow.
Watch your pet closely to ensure that the pill has been swallowed. The trick is to place the pill far back on the tongue to trigger a reflexive swallow. If you’re having trouble reaching the back of your pet’s mouth with your fingers, use a Pet Piller.

Can I Crush My Pet’s Pills?
Crushing pills is generally not a good idea unless done under the guidance of your veterinarian. Many medications have an enteric coating that prevents the pill from breaking down in your pet’s stomach acid. Crushing pills can cause stomach upset, prevent the medication from working properly, and can even cause unintentional overdosing.
If you’re permitted to crush a pill, mix it with a small amount of food to help ensure that your pet consumes the entire portion. Your pet’s favorite pungent, potent treat, such as peanut butter or tuna juice.

Still Having Trouble Giving Your Pet Medications?
Many medications can be compounded to make them easier to administer. Compounded medications are customized for your pet. They can be made into a different form, for example, compounded from a pill to a liquid, or combined with a flavoring for better palatability.