By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM
To put it simply, the best way to give your dog a pill is any way that gets him or her to swallow it. Seasoned pros may have the old “pop it in the mouth with one hand” trick down, but most people find that they may need to resort to more enticing methods to get the pills where they need to go.
Some medications come in a flavored chewable tab or liquid, with such enticing flavors as beef or cheese. Compounding pharmacies can often create medications that aren’t normally flavored with a better taste, though it’s often more expensive to get these medications made.
If you’re trying to give a not-so-tasty pill to a pet, bribery is most often the method of choice. People use all sorts of treats to get their pet to swallow a medication, from Cheez-Whiz to peanut butter to wrapped in baloney. While low-tech, this can also get messy, and depending on the dexterity of the pet in question, some dogs can manage to suck off all the good stuff while leaving the pill behind.
You can also find small squishy envelope-shaped treats in most pet stores that allow you to slide a pill in, then squish it shut. Many animals take these treats easily and they may save you lots of time and wasted, drooly, melting medicine capsules.
If a medicine needs to be given on an empty stomach, you can pill a pet by placing it far enough back on the tongue that they can’t spit it out. This can be accomplished with a long device called a pill gun, or for the brave, your own hands. If you are in this situation, I recommend asking a technician at the veterinary office for lessons. They are the undisputed pros.