Stress-Free Tips on Giving Your Dog The Medicine She Needs

by Cate Burnette, RVT

Getting your dog to take her medicine can be like putting toothpaste back into the tube…it needs to be done, but can seem like an impossible task at the time. If your dog is anything like the normal, every day house pooch, you’ll have to drag her out from under the bed to medicate her.

AND, if you’re anything like the normal dog owner, making your pet the least bit uncomfortable sends you into reams of remorse and guilt that can cause you to quit the job way too easily.

There are ways to give your pet her medicine without traumatizing either one of you.


One of the most common forms of medicine you’ll get from your veterinarian comes in pill form. Whether its an antibiotic you only need to give for 10 days to 2 weeks, or a thyroid hormonal supplement that your dog requires a couple of times a day for life, getting the pills down your dog’s throat is the ultimate goal.

For dogs that don’t have weight or diabetic issues, the easiest way to give a pill is to pop it into a small chunk of soft meat or cheese. You just need to have a big enough bite of food to cover the pill. Make sure you push the pill all the way into the middle of the food so that it can’t be seen and offer it to her as a treat.

If your dog is a fan of peanut butter – or any nut butter – stick the pill into the middle of a spoon of peanut butter and let her lick it up. With her favorite treat hiding the pill, your pooch is more likely to swallow the medicine without even thinking about it.

For those animals that can smell one tiny pill in a plate full of meat, and eat around it or spit it out, you’re going to need to try another method.

You can buy a “piller” at your vet’s office, online, or at some pet supply stores. The “piller” looks like a long, plastic tube with a plunger on one end and a rubber cylinder on the other that is designed to hold different sizes of pills.

Once you place the medicine in the holding end of the piller and draw back the plunger, you’ll need to open your dog’s mouth just wide enough to get the pill all the way over her tongue to the back of her throat. When the pill is in the right spot, push down on the plunger, quickly pull out the piller making sure you’ve left the medicine behind, and gently hold her muzzle shut. Point her nose to the ceiling and rub her throat to encourage her to swallow the pill.

Using another method along those same lines, gently pry her mouth open with one hand, then, with your other hand, push the pill to the back of her throat, making sure you set it over the base of the tongue. Hold her mouth closed, gently push her nose to the ceiling, and rub her throat until you feel her swallow.

If your pup is reluctant to swallow the pill, you can try gently blowing into her nose. The air flowing backward into her lungs causes and automatic swallow reflex that will get the medicine down her throat and into her stomach.

Liquid Medicines

You’ll probably find that giving your dog liquid medicines is an easier proposition than pilling her.

Once the proper dosage of liquid is drawn up into the medicine dropper or syringe, gently slip the end of the applicator into the side of your pup’s mouth in the pouch between her cheek and gums. Point her nose to the ceiling, and slowly expel the medicine into her mouth allowing her time to take a breath between each swallow.

Keep giving her the liquid until she’s swallowed the prescribed dose.

Some all-natural, organic tonics you can squirt directly onto her food or into her water dish, so that she gets her medicine when she eats.

Ear Medications

If you pet has any kind of ear disease caused by bacteria, yeast, or even ear mites,

You’re going to have to treat her ears at home with either a medicated ointment or liquid to clear up the infection.

Your dog’s ear consists of the earflap (or pinna), and the outer, middle, and inner ear canals. For minor infections, you’re only going to be treating the pinna and the outer ear canal.

Hold your dog’s ear open and gently pull up from the base of the ear to straighten the L-shaped ear canal. Place the tip of the applicator bottle or tube into the out part of her canal and squeeze the prescribed number of drops into the ear. By stretching her ear away from her head, you allow the medication to be deposited all over the little valleys of the ear canal.

Gently massage the base of the ear to distribute the medication evenly. You’ll want to make sure and do the massage with minimal pressure because her ears might be particularly sensitive and painful from the infection. Make sure that the underside of the earflap also receives enough to the medicine to cover it.

You’ll want to use the same method when using regular liquid organic ear cleansers to help keep her ears free of the yeast and bacteria that cause infections.

Eye Meds

Giving your dog eye medications can seem particularly scary, especially if your pooch is a squirmy, little thing, so you may want to ask someone to help you hold her head while you do so.

Gently open her eyelids with the fingers of your non-dominant hand. If you’re right-handed, that would be your left hand.

Hold the open tube or bottle of medication in the other hand with the tip of the applicator approximately ½-inch above her eye orb, making sure not to touch the eye. Drip the prescribed number of drops or approximately ½-inch of gel down onto the eye and allow the eyelids to close.

Gently massage the eyelids to evenly distribute the medicine over the entire eye.

Subcutaneous (“Under the Skin”) Injections

If your pooch is diabetic or needs regular allergy injections, you’re going to need to learn how to give her a shot of medicine subcutaneously, or just under the first layer of skin.

Draw up the proper amount of medicine in your syringe and replace the cap so that you don’t stick yourself with the needle.

Place your dog in your lap or ask someone to hold her for you. Once she’s relaxed and comfortable, pull up a loose flap of skin between her shoulder blades so that it forms a “Vee.”

Remove the cap from the needle and syringe and quickly thrust the needle into the middle area of the “Vee,” making sure it doesn’t come through the other side of the skin.

Most diabetic and allergy syringes have very small, thin needles, so if you push the needle in quickly, all your dog will feel is a tiny pinch.

Pull back on the syringe’s plunger and look for any blood filling the tube. If you see blood, you have accidentally hit a small capillary and you’ll need to reposition the syringe. If you don’t see any blood, gently push down on the plunger until all the medicine is dispensed.

Giving your dog medicine takes a little time and patience, but with the proper techniques, can be accomplished fairly easily and stress-free for both of you.

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