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How to Nurse an Ailing Dog

Getting Pup to Take His Pills
Getting a dog to take his medicine can be a challenge.
Getting a dog to take his medicine can be a challenge.

If you've been a dog owner for awhile, you know that getting a dog to take his medicine isn't always easy. Dogs can be pretty sneaky about hiding pills under their tongues or in their cheeks, then spitting them out later when you're not looking. Below, we'll discuss some helpful tips for giving your dog his pills -- and making sure he actually swallows them!

You may need another person to hold your pooch. By the way, make sure you have the pill out and ready to go before you start. Hold your dog's head firmly with one hand or, if he's small, hold him firmly between your knees while kneeling on the floor. If you're working with a puppy or a small breed, it might be easier to wrap the dog in a towel so he can't move or place him on a table.

Hold the pill in one hand. Using the first and middle fingers of the other hand, gently open your dog's jaws and put the pill far back on his tongue. Close his mouth and stroke his throat to get the pill to go down. You can also tilt his head straight back with one hand, grasp the pill between your thumb and forefinger of the other hand, and use your middle finger to open his mouth. Place the pill in the back of his mouth and push it over his tongue. Hold his mouth closed and rub his nose or throat so he'll swallow it.

You can also buy a "pet piller," which is basically a long, thin stick with a plunger on one end. You place the pill in the tip, insert the piller into your dog's mouth and as far back into his throat as you can get it, and then push the plunger to release the pill.

Another trick is to disguise the pill by wrapping it in something soft and tasty, such as cream cheese or peanut butter. Pet supply stores also sell special treats with holes in them so you can tuck the pill inside. Unless your pup is really smart or cautious about what he puts into his mouth, the pill will go down without him even knowing it. Since some medications need to be given on an empty stomach, can interact with certain foods or should not be chewed, be sure to ask your veterinarian if it's okay to give the pill this way.

Pills are one thing, but what if your dog has been prescribed a different type of medication? We'll reveal the best ways to administer other types of medicines on the next page.