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How to Give a Dog Pills Without Food — Can It Be Done?

Sometimes dogs can be finicky with their medication. If your dog is smart enough to figure out that the “extra special” treat you’re giving him has a pill inside, it’s going to get increasingly difficult to get your dog to take his medicine. How to give a dog pills without food? It can be done.

It pays to have a dog that’s well trained in this situation, because it’ll make getting through this a bit easier. Figuring out how to give a dog a pill without food isn’t the easiest thing you’ll have to do as a dog owner, but it’s certainly not the worst. But as many dog owners know, getting your pup to do something he doesn’t want to do can prove to be quite the challenge.

If even the tastiest food isn’t hiding the fact that you’re trying to give your dog medicine, you just might have to force it. However, it doesn’t have to be a horrible experience for both you and your dog.

Thankfully, you’re not alone in this situation, and we’ve put together our best tips to help make a difficult task a little bit easier.

How to Give a Dog Pills Without Food

Give It a Little Flavor

Before you really try forcing it down, see if your dog’s medication comes in a flavored form. Many common medications for dogs are available as a flavored pill that might just entice your dog to eat it. If you can’t get your dog to take his pill with a treat, you might as well turn it into a treat. If you’re really desperate to get your dog to take his medication, your veterinarian may be able to make the pills flavored with a taste that your dog will (hopefully) enjoy. Be warned, however, that this can cost extra, and that might not be something you want to cover.

Hide the Taste

Sometimes your dog might be refusing to take medication because the pills have a bitter flavor. You can hide the taste with gel caps that you can find at your local pharmacy. This might help your dog finally be able to take the pills with food, or your dog might just be willing to take the pill on its own because it doesn’t have any flavor at all. Gelcaps tend to be a little sticky when they interact with saliva, so you can coat the pill in butter or something similar to help your dog swallow it completely.

Get Some Extra Help

A pill gun can help you force the medication down your dog’s throat by placing it at the top of your dog’s throat. The gun works like a syringe and can be helpful if your dog tends to bite when you bring up taking medication. If your dog is still not taking the medication, you can try having someone help you by holding your dog and petting him to keep him calm.

An important thing to remember when you’re trying to give your dog medication is that you should always remain calm and keep your voice kind. This can be a stressful situation, but you should do everything you can to keep from getting overly frustrated with your dog. Dogs can sense stress and fear, so if you’re anxious about trying to give your dog a pill, he’s going to feel it and be anxious too. If you approach the situation with confidence, and maybe a helping hand, figuring out how to give your dog a pill without food will be much easier. Any time you enter a situation with more confidence, it’s only going to make reaching your result much easier.

You should always make sure that your dog understands that this isn’t a bad situation. Giving him warnings can help him understand that something is about to happen. Saying things like “time for your pill,” in a cheerful tone will help your dog recognize that this isn’t a bad situation. It can also help calm him down if he’s nervous, because he knows that it’s time to open his mouth and it isn’t going to last forever.

You should also give your dog a treat when you’re done, if he can have them, because a reward for something stressful always makes situations better. If your dog starts to associate taking pills with treats you’re not going to be doing yourself any harm either. Just make sure that you’re able to read your dog’s emotions, and you don’t try to force anything if he’s really anxious. You can always take a break and try again.