How To Get A Dog To Take a Pill When He Won’t Eat

It’s not easy to get a dog to take a pill at the best of times, hell, I should know, I’m a dog myself!

However, getting us to take a pill when we won’t eat is a whole other battle! 

There are a few tricks I can let you in on though, and I know they work because, well, they worked on me! 

Here are the easiest ways to get us to take a pill when we won’t eat:

Use a pill pusher

The first option – use a pill pusher. These are widely available from the vets and work best on small dogs.

Basically, you use these to push the tablet to the back of our throat without running the risk of losing your fingers!

They’re not completely infallible, but with some practice, they can work pretty well, and, if we’re not eating, it’s worth a go, right? 

Do it as a vet would 

The second one isn’t an easy technique for me to advocate, however, for the sake of your dog getting better, it’s a technique worth sharing as it’s pretty effective. 

You’ll need to be able to restrain your pooch yourself, so if your dog is on the large side, you may need the help of an assistant. 

Next, you’ll need to very quietly but confidently grip your dog’s upper jaw and tilt their nose towards the ceiling. 

Once you’ve got us looking up, you’ll see that our lower jaw is probably ajar – this is your window of opportunity. 

Now you’ve got 2 options:

With the fingers of the hand that’s holding the upper jaw open,  slide them just behind the canines which should cause them to open their mouth, and applying a little pressure on the palate can also help keep it open. With your other hand, you’ll now need to push the pill as far into the mouth as possible. 

Alternatively, you can use the hand that’s holding the pill to place a finger into the crack between the teeth and pull the lower jaw down.

Once your hand is inside the mouth, you need to roll your hand further in and push the pill as far as it can go. 

Close their jaw quickly and gently rub your dog’s throat in an attempt to get the tablet over the ‘hill’ at the back of the tongue.

Once it reaches this point they will swallow the pill. If they still haven’t swallowed, try squirting a little water into the corner of their mouth with a syringe to help them gulp the pill down. 

How do you give a stubborn dog a pill? 

It’s true, we can be extremely stubborn creatures, especially when it comes to taking pills! However, if we are eating, there are a few other sly tricks you can try to get us to take a pill…

The easiest way is to hide the pill in food, as this way, we’ll gobble up our dinner without batting an eyelid at the pill. This works really well when done with canned dog food.

Alternatively, you can also use peanut butter or cheese, as we love this stuff! These days, you can even get special treats that are designed to hide the pill by molding the treat around it (e.g., Pill Pockets™) – genius, right?

One tip though, to ensure your dog actually swallows the pill, make sure you hand feed us the medicated piece of food or treat so you know we’ve swallowed it, and not simply eaten everything other than the pill itself!  

Some pill brands have also started manufacturing pills that taste pleasant, so if you’ve got these, it should be a breeze to get us to swallow it! If not, why not ask your vet if they stock these? After all, it will make it easier for both of us! 

What can I mix my dog’s medicine with?

If your pet has been prescribed a powder or liquid, you can easily disguise this in a few different ways. For example, we absolutely love peanut butter or that squeezy cheese stuff.

I’ll let you in on a secret, mix our medicine with a small amount of either of these and spread it over our paws – usually, we hate things being spread on our paws, but we don’t mind if it’s peanut butter or cheese! 

Is it OK to crush dog pills? 

Yes – this is totally OK, and it’s actually a great way of getting us to consume the pill without us knowing.

Crushed pills are far easier to hide than a solid tablet and because the powder will be so fine, we’re unable to eat around it! 

To do this,  crush your dog’s pill into a fine powder and then mix it in with our dog food. We won’t notice a thing! 

What do you feed a dog who’s sick and won’t eat? 

We’ve all felt under the weather before and lost our appetite, and we know how much humans hate to see their dogs unable to eat.

When we’re sick, the best foods to feed us are bland types that are easy on the stomach – just like the foods humans are more likely to eat when they’re sick. 

If we have a mild stomach upset, including gas, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea, try feeding us the following: 

Chicken and Rice – these are prime ingredients in many dog foods, and because they’re mild they tend to sit well on our upset stomachs. Opt for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and plain rice.

Shredded Chicken –  plain, unseasoned, boiled, shredded chicken is also easy on our stomach and will also provide us with vitamins, minerals, fats, and amino acids.

Pumpkin – this is packed with fiber, which helps regulate the canine digestive system. Try feeding your sick pooch cooked, peeled, unsalted, and unseasoned pumpkin as it’s packed full of vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, copper, and manganese.

Bone Broth  – this is great for when we’re under the weather, as it’s mild and easy to swallow. It is also a nutritious and tasty way to add moisture and flavor to our dry food and encourage us to eat. 

Baby Food – it’s easy to swallow and digest and is great for disguising medications. Vets often recommend feeding Stage II meat-based baby foods like chicken, lamb, and turkey, just avoid baby food containing any garlic or onion powder.