Dog Care/How to give medication

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Dog Care

Dogs cannot be convinced of the wisdom of taking medication. They do not ordinarily swallow anything that does not appeal to them as food, and so giving them medication can be an arduous task. Some dogs swallow pills with little difficulty, while others need their pills wrapped in a meatball or forced down.

Restraining the dog[edit]

If a dog does not take medication easily, excessive restraint will train him to fear it. If the methods below do not work, consult your veterinarian for safe techniques to deliver the medication.

To open your dog's mouth, put your hand around his muzzle with your thumb and forefinger behind the canine teeth (curved "fangs") of the upper jaw; lift the upper jaw with your thumb and forefinger, making sure the other fingers are not in his mouth or between his upper and lower teeth. This should show you the back of the dog's tongue, where you can rapidly place medication. Release the dog between squirts of liquid (or pills) to let him swallow.

Any more restraint than this could lead to accidental dog bite, and will stress your dog. It is best to consult a vet if this method does not work.

Liquids[edit]

If a liquid medication has a flavor that appeals to a dog, he might lick it from a bowl or eat it if applied to a small amount of food. Do not use a spoon, as dogs have been known to get carried away and swallow them.

If the flavor is not appealing, use a plastic syringe without a needle or a dropper (either of which should be provided by your vet) to inject the medication into the dog's mouth.

The easiest way to apply the liquid is to lift one of the dog's cheeks and squirt the liquid behind the last teeth. Be careful not to squirt in so much at a time that it runs out of the cheek before the dog can swallow it or so much that it makes the dog cough.

If this fails, for example on some flat-faced breeds that might not have much of a cheek, you might have to pry open the dog's mouth as described under "restraining the dog" above. Squirt the liquid into the back of the mouth, behind the last tooth and towards the throat. As before, do not drown the dog or give so much at once that he dribbles the medication.

Pills[edit]

Many dogs will take a pill as if it is a treat, without tasting it. This is especially true if you train them to accept strange things from you by giving them a crumb of cheese, bread, meat, or whatever you are eating (do not give so many crumbs and treats that they become more than 5% of the dog's diet; avoid toxic substances such as grapes, raisins, onions and chocolate).

Placing a pill in your dog's food in the hopes that he will eat it accidentally is a simple way to get the pill down his throat, but it doesn't always work if the taste is unpleasant or the pill is large, even for dogs that normally eat anything. Watch the dog eat to make sure he swallows the pill.

You can push the pill into a piece of hot dog or cheese, or wrap it in a meatball of canned dog food. Try to make this treat small enough for the dog to swallow in one bite. Some dogs will not take the treat if they see you putting the pill into it. Watch the dog to make sure he does not spit the pill out after eating the treat (if this happens, you will need to force the pill, as described below).

You can crush a pill or open the capsule (if your veterinarian says this will not decrease its efficacy), placing the powder on a small bit of peanut butter, soft cheese, canned dog food, or similar treat. Dogs often consume the treat and medication without further fuss, or you can place the peanut butter on the roof of the dog's mouth, where he is forced to lick it off and swallow the medication.

If these methods fail, you can force the pill into a dog's throat. Open the dog's mouth as described under "restraining the dog" above. Place the pill on the back of his tongue, either dropping it back there or placing it behind the back teeth with your thumb and forefinger (of the hand NOT holding the upper jaw). Close his mouth with both hands and hold it between your fingers (over the upper jaw) and thumb (under the lower jaw. Lift his nose gently upward and gently massage his throat. If this does not make him swallow, blow once into his nostrils while still massaging. Almost all dogs will swallow. Release his muzzle.

Observe the dog for a few minutes, to make sure the pill has been swallowed. Many dogs, especially breeds that have large mouths or extra skin around their mouths, are adept at hiding pills in their mouths. If you have had trouble with your dog, you can open his mouth and see if the pill is stuck to his lip or around his tongue. If so, it should fall out and you can try again.

If you are unable to do this, call your vet.