Dog Training | Health and Grooming

How to Give a Small Dog a Pill Easily (How To Guide)

how to give a small dog a pill
The techniques to get a small dog to take a pill or tablet (simply)

When you are feeling sick, a foul-tasting medicine or pill is hard to endure. The same is true for dogs! Imagine how bad some medicines must smell to dogs, given their incredible sense of smell. Not many small dogs are going to enjoy having to take a pill.

Given that dogs are pretty good at avoiding things they don’t want to do – giving a pup, a pill can be challenging. Smaller dogs provide even more of a challenge! Luckily there are some trainer-approved tips on how to give a small dog a pill or tablet.

Our techniques and trickery will make getting your puppy to accept a pill a breeze. Even the most stubborn of small dogs will take a pill if you follow our recommended processes. Patience and persistence are key!

Another factor to consider is that a dog that manages NOT to swallow a pill is not getting the vital medicine it needs. Frustration aside, the responsibility of a small dog correctly ingesting any required medication falls squarely on our shoulders as owners.

So, how do you get the pill into your small dog’s system? Look to be real – expect a battle giving a small dog a pill. However, when done correctly, the struggle is manageable.

 In this article, we’ll share with you some steps on how to give a small dog a pill, so you can spend less time fighting your dog and more time showering it with belly rubs and hugs.

And without further ado, let’s begin. 

How to give a small dog a pill

small dog taking pill

It’s always best to run any healthcare ideas by your vet. Some pills could lose their effectiveness when crushed or broken, and you may need alternative ideas on how to get your dog to take its medication correctly.

Hide the pill in a pill pocket treat

As its name suggests, the pill pocket treat is a dog treat with a space to hide the pill inside. This is a creative way to trick your dog into thinking it is getting a treat when you’ve hidden a tablet within it.

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Pro tip: To avoid raising suspicion in your dog, you could feed them with an empty pill pocket treat before moving onto a pill pocket treat with a pill in it.

Do note that some dogs may get smarter as time passes and realize that you’re essentially feeding it a pill, and this trick could lose its charm too.

As with most new treats, your dog’s stomach may find it challenging to process the pill pocket, so be sure to keep an eye on your dog if they have an upset stomach. (New foods and treats are a common cause of a stinky dog)

Don’t let your small dog see or hear you grabbing the pill

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While preparing to feed your dog with the pill, it’s always best to do it when they can’t see or hear you. For instance, you’ll want to grab the medication in a room that your dog can’t enter or in the pantry where your dog will be far away from.

This gives your dog less time to prepare for its escape, as it won’t know when you’re trying to feed it with the pill. Remember to wash your hands with soap after you’ve handled the tablet.

Dogs have a keen sense of smell, and the lingering smell of the pill on your hands can indicate what’s coming for them.

Add the pill into their regular food at mealtimes

If you’ve gotten clearance from your vet to crush or break the pills into smaller pieces, you may consider sneaking the pill into their food. This is easier done with wet food as it will deter your dog from smelling the pill’s odor.

Be sure to pick a wet food that your dog enjoys, as this could encourage them to wolf their meal down without spending too much time sniffing at the food for any tricks.

It is possible to hide a pill in quality dry food – but most dogs will see straight past your ruse.

Sneak the pill into your dog’s favorite treats

Subsequently, you could also hide the crushed pills in your dog’s favorite treats.

Snacks with a strong aroma can mask the pill’s odor, including treats like peanut butter, hot dog pieces, or even marshmallow pieces.

Be sure to cut up some of these treats into smaller pieces as you’ll want to avoid choking your small dog.

However, it is always best to use this trick in moderation, as you don’t want to overfeed your small dogs with treats that are high in sugar.

Consider liquid or powdered medication instead

To save you from the headache of feeding a pill to a small dog, you may also consider switching your dog’s medication to liquid or powdered medicine instead. Speak with your vet about these medicine alternatives as it could be better for your dog in the long run.

With liquid or powdered medication, you can sneak it into their food and feed them like normal. This is a trick that works best with dogs that aren’t picky with food and will finish their meals in a single seating.

Some people mix milk or coconut milk with regular kibble and then add powdered medications. As long as the Vet says there will be no reactions this is an effective way to hide powdered meds from a clever puppy nose.

Some medicine can lose its efficiency when left out for long periods, so you’ll have to prepare an irresistible meal for your dog if you want to use this tip.

Cover the pill in a digestible pill case

Digestible pill cases are a great way to mask the outlook, taste, and odor of a regular pill.

Usually made of gelatin, these digestible cases are safe for dogs. They are made for humans – but many Vets suggest these for dogs also. They may even come in different flavors to further entice your dog to eat the pill.

This is a great way to get your dog to swallow the pill without fighting your dog and is generally a safe trick to use with picky dogs who are highly aware of pill times.

Manipulate your dog’s fear of missing out (FOMO!)

French bulldog puppy and mom
A proud French Bulldog Mom watches over her puppies!

Have you ever noticed how your dog would pull out its puppy eyes when it sees you biting into a delicious human meal?

Well, this is the best time to bank in on their fear of missing out. You could always trick your dog into thinking the pill is a delicious snack that they’re missing out on.

Do this by pretending to eat it yourself or even feed it to another dog. This is to tap into your small dog’s fear of missing out on what they presume is something delicious. Eventually, you’ll see your small dog begging to have the pill.

To make it easier, you can also do a switcheroo by feeding another dog a treat while holding the pill in your hand.

By doing this, you can immediately switch from feeding the healthy dog a treat to providing your small dog its pill without either dog realizing the trick you’re trying to pull.

Dogs are usually smart and can see that you’re reaching for a “treat” from a different container, so doing a switcheroo may boost this trick’s success rate.

Do the 3-second hand-pill technique

Although most of these tricks should work on most small dogs, you may occasionally encounter a more stubborn and smarter dog than the rest.

When all else has failed, you will have to manually feed your small dog its pill with the 3-second hand-pill technique.

This technique should reduce your dog’s chances to discover any hidden pills and spit them out later. This is since you will feed the medication directly into your dog’s throat.

To do the 3-second hand-pill technique, you will have to first hold on tight to your dog.

If it helps, you can also close the doors around you, so your dog won’t try to run away. Gently coax your small dog to ease its panic before prying its mouth open with one hand.

Grab the pill with another hand and push the pill as far back into your dog’s throat as possible.

give small dog a pill
Dr Burstyn from Vancouver Vets demonstrates the technique.

Immediately raise your dog’s snout and count to 3 seconds. You could also gently stroke your dog’s neck to help get its swallowing reflex into motion.

Some small dogs may be more active than others, so you may need help when doing the 3-second hand-pill technique. Many owners worry that their dogs could bite them when doing the hand-pill method.

Still, this becomes the most efficient and effective technique to give a small dog a pill when done swiftly and correctly. If needed, it could help to rub the pill in some wet food as this will mask the medicine’s odors.

The subtle taste of the wet food can also help trigger your dog’s swallowing reflex, making it easier for them to take the pill.

Conclusion

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In conclusion, giving your small dog a pill can prove to be a difficult task in the beginning. With much practice, however, you’ll be able to master this skill in no time.

It’s essential is to establish trust between you and your dog, and eventually, giving a small dog a pill won’t seem like such a chore to you anymore.

Do remember to give your dog a little hug and verbal praise each time they’ve successfully taken their pill.

This could help them associate taking their pills like a champ with a positive experience, so they won’t feel the need to fight pill feeds as much. Snout kisses are also recommended, although you could always give them love with or without pill times.