July 15, 2009 "Ask Seth"

My vet just prescribed medication for my dog. I have never needed to give a dog a pill before. What is the easiest way to do this?


Dear Seth,

My dog, Tantor, has been healthy his whole life, but his vet just prescribed medication. I have never needed to give a dog a pill before. What is the easiest way to do this?

Shirley, Tampa, FL


Giving oral medications can be challenging, but it is important to learn how. It is very important to dispense the medication properly, for the prescribed duration, and to follow you veterinarian’s advice. I have broken the process down into five easy steps. The list bellows assumes you are right-handed, otherwise you can just reverse the instructions.

  1. Put the pill in your right hand between your thumb and index finger. With your left hand hold your dog’s upper jaw with your thumb and index finger.
  2. I like to fold the upper lip over the teeth as I open the mouth. Using your index finger, place it behind the canine tooth and gently press on the roof of the mouth. This will make your dog open his mouth.
  3. Tilt the head upwards. Using the middle finger on your right hand, slowly open the jaw.
  4. Put the pill as far back in the mouth as possible. Close the mouth.
  5. Blow on your dog’s nose or rub his throat to encourage swallowing.

Always read the medication’s directions carefully. Some meds must be given with food, some on an empty stomach. Hiding pills in food can sometimes be a good method. I find that dogs love liverwurst and you can pretty much hide anything in it. Good luck!


Seth Mayersohn, CVT


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