All Things Dog

How to Give Your Dog Medication

It's likely that your dog will need medication during its lifetime—and some of these medications may need to be administered at home by you. To do this correctly, you'll need a bit of know-how, practice, and patience.

Questions you should ask your veterinarian:

  • Is this medicine available in liquid form? (Many dog owners find liquid medicine easier to give their dog than pills.)
  • How much of the medication should I give him, and for how long?
  • What is the best way to administer the medication?
  • Is there a specific time of day when I should give my dog his medication? (For example, some medications should be given with food, or on an empty stomach.)
  • When should I expect to see my dog's health improve?
  • Are there any side effects I should look for?

Administering medication in liquid form

A baby medication dispenser can help in administering liquid medication to your dog. These dispensers make getting the medication into your dog's mouth easier, and the markings on the side make measuring the medication a snap. Oral dosing syringes and droppers also help make this task easier.

Start with your dog in the "sit" position. Talk to him in a matter-of-fact voice, not in an overly soothing tone. Why? Because dogs are clever and they may associate your soothing tonality with an inevitable unpleasant experience.

Put one hand over your dog's snout and gently point his nose to the ceiling. With your other hand, insert the dispenser into the side of his mouth and squeeze the liquid in slowly, stopping as needed to allow your dog time to swallow.

Administering medication in pill form

There are two methods for getting your dog to swallow a pill. The easiest method is to hide the pill inside one of your dog's favorite foods. Then watch your dog to make sure that he has actually swallowed the pill, and hasn't spit it out.

The second method of getting your dog to swallow a pill is a bit more involved, but becomes easier with practice. Start with your dog in the "sit" position. Remember to talk to your dog in a matter-of-fact voice. Place one hand over your dog's snout and gently point his nose to the ceiling. With your other hand, open your dog's lower jaw and place the pill at the base of his tongue. Don't place the pill farther back than this because you could stimulate the gag reflex.

To help your dog swallow the pill, close his mouth and do one of these two things:

  1. Massage his throat until you see his throat contract in a swallowing motion.
  2. Gently rub his nose or blow on it lightly.

With both methods, watch your dog carefully to make sure he has swallowed his medication.

General tips for administering medication

  • Never medicate your dog without a prescription from your veterinarian.
  • If you forget to give a dose, never give a double dose to make up for the missed dosage.
  • For the medication to do its job properly, the medication should be administered to your dog exactly as your veterinarian instructed. With many medications, especially antibiotics, the entire prescription must be used.
  • The quicker the medication is given, the less your dog will mind the procedure, and the easier the next time will be.
  • When you have finished medicating your dog, praise him and reward him with a treat. This will help him feel more comfortable about the process, and it will make administering the medication easier the next time.

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