How To….Give your dog tablets

DrPaul -

How To….Give your dog tablets

In my ‘How To…’ series I will be providing top tips to help you with your dog’s health care from the comfort of home.

Next up in this series is How To...give your dog tablets.

As a dog owner you will inevitably have to medicate your dog at some point during their lifetime. Whether it be preventive healthcare such as flea and worming treatment, or medication to help overcome illness, you need to know how to give this medicine safely and confidently and without losing any fingers in the process!

Here are my top tips on how to get that medication down the hatch :

● Prepare it! Never open the pill bottle in the same room as your dog, believe me they soon get to know the sound and what it means. Prepare the medication in a separate room and then bring it to your dog in a secure location where your dog cannot then leave the room.

● Hide it! If the medication is safe to be given with food it may be easier to hide it in a small amount of tasty food. Some medicines are bitter and very off-putting so if your dog spits it out in the food it may be better to disguise the tablet in a pill pocket. Pill pockets help to disguise the bitter taste by looking like a tasty treat but have an opening to place the tablet or pill inside.

● Crush It! If the tablet is quite large or potentially too big to get down in one smooth action you can crush it. Using a dedicated pill crusher or a pestle and mortar you can grind the tablet into a powder and either mix with water and syringe into the mouth or mix with a teaspoon of strongly flavoured food. Do not mix in an entire meal as if some is left it will be difficult to know how much of the medication has been eaten.

● However, NOT ALL medications can be crushed so make sure you check in with your vet first to see if it is safe to do so.Vet it! For those dogs that refuse their tablet in food, treats or having been crushed here is the technique your vet would commonly use to administer their medication.

1. Gently take hold of the pet’s upper jaw with one hand, and tilt it upwards so their nose is facing the ceiling. The pet’s mouth should naturally open a little. Gently pull the pet’s lower jaw down to fully open their mouth.
2. Either using your hand or a pill-giver you should place the tablet as far back on the tongue as possible, confidently and gently. Avoid dropping the pill into the mouth as this can cause gagging. Close their mouth, and gently hold their muzzle so they don’t spit out the pill, and stroke the pet’s throat in a gentle downward motion. This will encourage them to swallow and prevent them from spitting it back out.
3. If necessary, you can syringe a small amount of water into the side of your pet’s mouth to help them swallow. If your pet licks their lips, this is usually a sign they’ve swallowed the tablet.

For those really tricky dogs….
If you really find it impossible to get tablet medication into your dog you may, in some cases, be able to explore alternative options. Some tablets can be given in different formations such as liquids, long acting injections or transdermal preparations which you may find much easier to do.

It is so important to regularly de-flea and worm your dog, and for many owners the struggle of administering this regularly can be quite stressful. There are many flea and worming medications that come as “spot-on” topical applications which you may find much easier to apply rather than giving regular oral medications. You can also always ask your local vets to book you into their nurse clinic to give the medication for you if you find it too tricky.

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.