How To Give Your Dog A Pill: Step By Step Instructions + Photos

dog-pills-by-mstephens7.jpg Our dog Tenor has gone through a couple of minor health issues recently…

Each time, the vet prescribed antibiotics.

The first time it was Cephalexin. And the next time it was Amoxicillan.

Hopefully, my experience with giving dogs pills will be helpful the next time you need to give your dog a pill.

I found an easy way that works… every time!



How To Give A Dog Liquid Medication

Before this, the only “medicine” our dog had ever taken was Benadryl.

And I used to buy the liquid form — simply because it seemed easier to mix it in with his food than to try & force a pill down his throat.

Better yet, rather than mixing liquid medication in your dog’s food, use an oral syringe (from your vet) to make the medicine go down even faster!

 Here’s how it’s done.

How To Give A Dog Pills

Most recently, on these past 2 occasions when Tenor was prescribed pills (antibiotics), I decided it was time to get him used to taking pills.

Or should I say, it was time to get me comfortable with giving my dog pills?

Surprisingly, I learned that it’s a cinch to give your dog medicine in the form of pills!

In fact, I think that giving dogs medicine in the form of pills is quicker, less messy during the process, and there’s less clean-up afterward.

Here’s how I did it…


#1  Make the experience of giving your dog a pill an exciting time — one that he will come to look forward to. If that means picking the doggie treat of his dreams to “reward” him with after he takes the pill… then so be it.

In our case, it’s cottage cheese. He never gets it except when he’s sick. (I used to mix the liquid Benadryl in with cottage cheese… and he loved it.)

In addition to the “reward”, you’ll also need a lot of positive cheering and high-pitched talking to your dog to get him excited about what’s about to take place.

It needs to sound like he’s about to experience something really fun — more fun than anything he’s experienced yet today!


dog-pills-and-cottage-cheese.jpg#2  Open the cap on the dog pills and place one in your right hand. (If you’re right handed.) Then, open up the lid on the cottage cheese (…this also helps to remind your dog of the “reward” that’s about to come).

Then, get down on your dog’s level — maybe some hugs and sweet nothings whispered in your dog’s ear would be in order here.

Just before you administer the pill, you want to look your dog square in the eyes and command 100% of his attention.


giving-a-dog-a-pill.jpg#3  Cup your entire left hand under your dog’s lower jaw. With your thumb, press your dog’s bottom lip (on his right side) against his teeth trying to get him to “open up”. Trust me, he will — simply because it’s mildly uncomfortable for him.

As he opens up — even if it’s ever so slightly — reach way in and place the pill that’s in your right hand all the way on the back of his throat. It should end up on the farthest spot on his tongue that you can physically reach.


helping-the-pill-go-down-dogs-throat.jpg#4  Then, IMMEDIATELY — without any hesitation — close your dog’s mouth with both of your hands and rub the bottom of his neck & throat. This action encourages him to swallow. (Talk very calmly and sweetly to him at this point — so he’s not freaked out by what you just placed in his mouth.)

The first time you do this, it may seem like your dog is trying to bring the pill up to the front of his mouth, or cough (or gag) it up. And he will — if you allow that to happen. But the action of keeping his mouth closed, talking softly to him, kissing his nose, and rubbing the bottom of his throat will prevent that 100% of the time.



#5  Now the reward… You should administer the reward (in my case, cottage cheese) as soon as it is physically possible and you’re sure that your dog has swallowed the pill. Err on the side of rubbing his throat for a longer, rather than shorter, amount of time.

Then, almost without missing a beat, grab your dog’s favorite treat (in this case, the cottage cheese) and give it to him right away and very cheerfully!

I just dip my hand right into the cottage cheese and scoop out a tiny handful that he eats right out of my hands. I think this helps to put him at ease with the fact that my hands are putting things in his mouth.

But you could also have some already scooped out into a bowl, if you want.


Here’s how to give your dog a pill in one step without the big “reward”.



Dogs Love The Extra Attention & Treats!

i-got-the-dogs-full-attention.jpgTo my dog, the process of getting a pill seems like a simple 2-step process:

1)  “She shoves something on the back of my tongue”…

2)  “Then she magically has cottage cheese in those hands right away for me to enjoy.”

Of course, we clearly mark that container of cottage cheese as “not for human consumption” — but that’s only when the dog is on a 10-day course of antibiotics twice a day, because he can go through a small container of cottage cheese during that time.


UPDATE: After my dog had knee surgery for a torn ACL, I started giving my dog Chondroitin and Glucosamine pills regularly. I don’t always have cottage cheese on hand, but I do always have frozen Biljac on hand! I keep some in the freezer at all times, and always have a zippered baggie filled with Biljac in the refrigerator too. So now I ask my dog if he wants his “treat pills.” Then I drop the 2 pills into the palm of my hand, grab a handful of the Biljac in the same hand, and my dog eats it out of my hand. (He absolutely loves Biljac!) Sometimes, he’ll feel one of the large pills in his mouth and spit it out. Then I just place it into the back of his throat and reward with Biljac.



Other Ways To Give Dogs Pills

Don’t want to actually place a pill in your dog’s mouth?

Then try pill pockets, or this method of giving dogs pills:



Lynnette Walczak

I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money -- so I frequently write about "outside the box" ideas that most wouldn't think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed several years until switching gears to pursue things I was more passionate about. I've worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo -- to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun websites).

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  • Lilroxystarrlet

    this just worked like a CHARM! thank you so much for the fabulous advice!!!! our 4 month old french bulldog was giving us such a hard time before this trick!

  • Eileencarman

    Wish I knew about piillpockets 3 weeks ago. Could have been the thing to get my 14 year old dog to take the pills more easily. She had a bad absess on her butt and I could not get her to swallow her pills no matter what I did. Now she is gone.

  • LinW.

    Doesn’t the hot dogs make the pills dissolve? I have a fighter on my hands and
    her antibiotic is chewable so think it would dissolve in this. Why can’t they just make the meds that way in the first place. Be a whole lot easier. I have wasted two pills trying everything known to man. These aren’t cheap.