Giving Oral Medications to a Dog
This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.
Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
In the photographs below, the dog's nose is pointed to your right.
Variations on these instructions exist.
Your veterinarian will tell you if your dog's medication(s) can be given
with food or if it must be given on an empty stomach. If the tablet or
capsule can be given with food, you may make a "meatball" by placing the
medication in the center of a small ball of canned dog food or cheese.
Always give a test "meatball" to your dog to make sure she is willing eat it
and also to see if she chews it or gulps it whole. Dogs are more likely to
gulp the "meatball" without chewing. If they do chew the "meatball" and spit
out the pill, the tablet or capsule will partially dissolve and become very
hard to handle. If the dog bites into the tablet or capsule, which will
leave a bad taste in her mouth, she will be harder to medicate on the second
attempt. So, you will have to decide what works best with your dog.
The following instructions are presented to help you give medications if you
cannot give the medicine in a "meatball". Use caution when giving a dog oral
medication to avoid a bite. A dog's mouth contains many bacteria. If you are
bitten by your dog, clean the wound thoroughly and seek medical attention.
||Medications for oral
administration may be in pill, capsule or liquid form.
||Hold the dog's head from the top
using your left hand if you are right-handed. If the dog has a
long nose hold the upper jaw between thumb and index finger. If
the dog has a short nose, hold the head like a cat (see
giving oral medications to a cat).
|Tilt the head back. Dogs have
stronger jaw muscles than cats and unlike the cat, the lower jaw
does not usually drop open far enough to place the pill or
capsule over the base of the tongue.
||Gently fold the upper lip over the
teeth as you open the mouth. If the dog bites down with your
hand in her mouth, she will bite her lip and will not bite your
hand. Place your thumb on the roof of the dog's mouth. You do
not have to fold the dog's lip over their teeth but this does
reduce the chance of you being bit.
||Hold the pill or capsule in your
right hand between your thumb and index finger. Use the middle
finger of your right hand to pull open the lower jaw. Keep your
middle finger over the small incisor teeth NOT over the sharp
fangs (canine teeth).
||Drop the pill or capsule as far
back over the tongue as possible, then immediately close the
mouth and blow on the dog's nose which will encourage her to
||If you are unable to get the pill
far enough over the base of the tongue, the dog will spit it
out. You may need to use your index finger and thumb to push the
pill over the back of the tongue.
IMPORTANT: If you use your thumb and index finger to push the
pill over the base of the tongue, your fingers will be inside
the dog's mouth and you must work rapidly to avoid getting bit.
Close the mouth and stroke the dog's neck or blow sharply on
his/her nose to encourage the dog to swallow.
Notice the dog's lip is still folded over the upper teeth to
protect the hand from being bitten.
There are several styles of pilling devices that can used to place a pill
or capsule over the base of the tongue so that you do not have to place your
fingers in the dog's mouth. See section on
pilling a cat for
|Liquid medications are given in a
pouch between the teeth and cheek.
||The medication is quickly squirted
into this pouch, the mouth is held closed and the neck stroked
or the nose sharply blown on to encourage the dog to swallow.
Liquids are more likely to accidentally enter the windpipe
compared to pills or capsules. To avoid the dog inhaling liquid
into the windpipe, DO NOT tilt the dog's head backward.
If you find it difficult to give your dog a pill or capsule, speak to
your veterinarian about suspending the pill or capsule in a liquid. Some
medications can be suspended in liquid while others lose their effectiveness
when placed in a suspension. Always talk to your veterinarian before
altering the medication.
Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you or
your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.
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