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How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill

 How to Get a Dog to Take a Pill

As pet owners, we know that (most of the time) taking care of your dog means keeping things out of its mouth. Between snatching a chicken tender at the dinner table and munching on dining room chairs, you’d think getting your dog to take oral medication such as a pill would be easy.

Unfortunately, some dogs have a stubborn side when it comes to swallowing their medicine. It’s no surprise that you typically don’t see your dog suddenly drooling at the sight of a pill.

To that end, we’ve designed a guide to show you how to give a dog a pill with six swallow-worthy tips. Whether your pup is taking antibiotics or dewormers, discovering the best way to give a dog a pill can save you from a whole lot of hassle. 

#1 Put It in its Food

Most healthy canines won’t hesitate to start chowing down at their food bowl, so use this to your advantage. Placing a dog pill in a food bowl can be the first choice for easy pill delivery. 

You can avoid a battle when it comes to keeping your pet healthy through these simple techniques of hiding pills in dog food:

  • Be wary of kibble – A determined dog might easily spot a pill in its kibble. Although if your pet is a real chowhound, it might lap it up without noticing. That said, if you see your dog eyeing its pill and avoiding it in its dry food, there are other ways to hide its pills.
  • Use canned food – Your dog might be excited to enjoy the taste of filet mignon, grilled chicken or wild salmon. Canned dog food comes in a variety of savory flavors and is soft enough to easily hide the taste of a pill.
  • Avoid slow feed bowls – Slow feed bowls are designed to keep your pup from eating too fast, upsetting its stomach or coughing when it takes too big of a bite. Unfortunately, they also make hiding pills significantly harder. If you’re using a slow feed bowl, exchange it for a traditional dog bowl and your pooch will hardly realize it has taken the medicine.

What to Do With Multiple Dogs?

Pet parents with two or more furry friends may be wondering how to get the right pill to the right dog. Often, dogs share food with their siblings, so sorting oral medication between multiple dogs can prove challenging.

To manage multiple pills with multiple dogs, you can:

  • Separate feeding times – Feed pooch #1 at 8:00 and pooch #2 at 8:30. Stagger your feeding schedule and separate your dogs in different rooms to ensure everyone is eating exactly what they’re supposed to be. The last thing you want is for your larger dog to help themselves to a small dog's meal.
  • Play with your dog’s preferences – Dogs can be as picky as humans and often what one dog loves, another despises. Use your dogs’ preferences to separate their meals. If one dog loves apples and the other abhors them, you have an easy way to stop one from stealing the other’s food. In this scenario, you can sandwich a pill between two apple slices with peanut butter. 
  • Practice vigilance – If you (or whoever is taking care of your dogs while you’re away) can watch your pups as they eat their breakfast, lunch or dinner, then you can easily make sure they’re taking their pills with their food. 

#2 Give the Pill By Hand

Sounds a bit obvious, doesn’t it? Well, knowing how to give a dog a pill by hand can actually be a bit of a challenge.

You’ve likely already tried to offer it in your open hand, but if you’re still struggling, consider the following tips and techniques:

  • Keep the bottle away from your dog – Whether it’s the unscrewing cap or the rattle of the pills within the bottle, these sounds can be key giveaways to your dog that something strange is going on. By opening the bottle in another room, you can avoid spooking your dog, especially if it’s already uneasy around pills. Just remember, dogs can hear sounds four times further away than humans.
  • Wash your hands – Much like their superior sense of hearing, dogs also have an amazing sense of smell. This means your pup can sniff out pills or any pill residue on your hand. Consider washing your hands before offering a pill to hide the pungent smell of the medicine. Despite having over 300 million olfactory receptors in its nose, you may be able to avoid scaring them away with an overwhelming scent of the pill.
  • Add its favorite flavor – A great way to feed a pill by hand is by sneaking it into your dog’s favorite snack. Push the pill into a delicious slab of meat or cover it in peanut butter to hide the taste and smell of the medicine, and give your dog a tasty treat in the process.

#3 Use Gelatin Capsules

Turn your dog’s pill into another kind of pill (such as gel caps). Unlike liquid medicine, dog pills are bitter, sour or just plain bad tasting. Plus, the rough chalky texture can be about as appealing to your dog’s tongue as a pumice stone.

By placing your dog’s pill inside a gelatin capsule, you can avoid all of this and provide your dog with a smoother and more palatable option for taking its medicine. When investigating the potential of gel capsules for your dog, consider things such as:

  • Size – The size of your dog’s pill can have an impact on how you use a gel capsule. If a pill is too large to fit into a single capsule, you might be able to break it in half. As well, you may be able to fit more than one pill into a single gel capsule, making larger amounts easier to deliver.
  • Flavor – Unlike the gelatin you’ve had for dessert, gel capsules are not fruity or sweet. The fact that they’re flavorless can be a big benefit for dogs — the taste of nothing is usually preferable to the unpleasant taste of pills.

#4 Crush the Pill

If you’re dealing with dog pill difficulties, it can be helpful to turn the pill into something else — a pile of dust for example. Before you break out the mortar and pestle, check with your veterinarian to ensure the pill can be crushed without altering its effects.

Once you’ve crushed the pill into a fine powder, you have a few options for delivering it to your dog, such as:

  • Mix into wet food – If the newly crushed pill is fine enough, it should be easy to mix it into your dog’s wet food. There won’t be any way for your dog to avoid it and most likely it won’t want to, as the taste of pureed beef should completely cover it up.
  • Work into peanut butter – A favorite snack for a lot of pups, peanut butter is the perfect substance to be mixed with pill powder. Once thoroughly worked into the peanut butter, the pill dust will be all but invisible (and tasteless) to your pup. 

#5 Make it a Treat With CBD

You might be able to convince your dog that taking its pill is actually a delicious reward. By mixing pills with your dog’s favorite CBD treats, you can encourage your pup to eagerly await its next helping — and calm it down from any unease it may be feeling prior to feeding.

The more your dog loves the treat, the better your chances are that it’ll eat it (and the pill) without a second thought. When preparing treats with pills, keep a few things in mind:

  • Hide the pill – While your dog’s vision might not be its most powerful sense, it can still spot a pill if it isn’t well hidden with its treat. Bury the pill deep in whatever treat you’re giving to ensure your dog is none the wiser.
  • Mix pill-filled treats with regular treats – Throw out a few small treats that aren’t filled with a pill to show your dog that nothing suspicious is going on. By the time you give them the “special” treat, your dog will likely be more than willing to scarf it down.

#6 Bribe Them With a Walk

Is your dog always eager for a trip around the neighborhood? Consider using its love of walks to encourage them to play nice when it’s time to take the pill.

To fuse your dog’s walk and pill routine into one easy outing consider:

  • Pill before the walk – By training your dog to know that it has to take its pill before you put on the leash, your pup might begin taking its pills as quickly as possible — anything to get out the door and start exploring its territory.
  • Pill during the walk – While your pup is sniffing around and enjoying the outdoors, it may be the perfect time to give them its pills. In your pup’s happy and excited state, a pill might not seem so bad. 

Make Pill Time Easy With Zebra CBD

A new bag of tricks for optimal pill-giving success can help make your next medicine hour go smoothly and with ease. If you’re looking for other ways to ease your dog into taking a pill, talk to a vet or consider Zebra CBD’s canine CBD products

The benefits of CBD chews are twofold — if your pup becomes hyper or scared after hearing the pill bottle shake, you can ease your dog’s nerves with a CBD-infused snack. They’re also the perfect hiding spot for a pill. 

But that’s not all we have. With balms, oils and chews made with natural ingredients, you can encourage a calm and relaxed atmosphere no matter the circumstance. In fact, our CBD Calming CBD Chews for dogs are designed specifically to help with your dog’s environmentally induced stress. 

Plus, our products are made with the flavors that dogs love, so there’s definitely no work in getting your pup to try them. Visit Zebra CBD today — it's a premium CBD for all the furry friends in your life.


Paws Chicago. Canine Senses.

PBS. Dog’s dazzling sense of smell.

Co-founder of Copycat Copywriters, Adam has written for dozens of CBD and cannabis companies on a wide array of topics, including regulations, economics, farming practices and biochemistry.

About the Author

Adam Biederman Image

Adam Biederman

As co-founder and lead writer of Copycat Copywriters, one of Adam’s primary areas of expertise is within the budding CBD and cannabis space. He has written for dozens of CBD and cannabis companies, producing a collection of white papers, press releases, blog posts, articles and ebooks about a wide array of industry-related subjects, including regulations, economics, farming practices and biochemistry.

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