Tips to Give a Dog a Pill If Your Dog Not Taking

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If you are looking for tips on how to give a dog a pill, you probably have a Ninja pill for a puppy.

Otherwise, you just lift your dog’s lip, open his jaw, throw the pill and move on, right?

Here is how the technical demonstrations of the veterinarians show how to give a pill to your dog. This is how dogs seem to take pills on YouTube. That’s how we gave Emmett pills many, many years ago. It was so easy that we never dreamed of finding “solutions” to plunder our dog.

Fast forward to Cooper.

Cooper is an Impossible dog to plunder. He even acts as if he swallowed a pill, leaves, and then spits it out in an not-known place. It is only after, while vacuuming, that I discover the remains of pills.

So if you want to know how to give a dog a pill and not all normal techniques work, I have some ideas for you.

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Cooper takes daily medications for allergies and arthritis. These pills have a solid Routine that I am including below. Recently, however, he experienced a systemic infection that lasted for months and required a lot of medications that tasted bad, had to be administered in a certain way, required many doses every day, etc… He was done.

We had to be super creative. Below I will share 5 of the most successful of the many things we tried and how each worked.

While some had a lower success rate than others, they all worked at least a little, so hopefully they could help you and your pill ninja too. Let’s go, shall we?

Bait and switch / catch

This idea came from a veterinarian. She suggested pill bags because most dogs think they are a great treat themselves. Throw away an empty pill bag… throw in another one… throw in another one, but this time with the pill in it… then throw in another blank, all in quick succession. The idea is to leave your dog too busy grabbing treats to notice the pill. Cooper quickly prevailed, and then stopped catching treats thrown in his way.

Success Rate: Low

Filled Bugles

This idea came from Cooper’s senior veterinarian. He suggested buying horns (remember it??) because dogs can recognize the texture. He suggested that using a mushy treat with a hard pill makes it too easy for the puppy to take the pill off. Instead, insert the pill into a bugle and fill the top with cream cheese. While Cooper liked the chip and the cream cheese, some of his pills were too big to fit in a bugle chip.

Success Rate: Average

Request a different mix

Although this is not technically a trick, it is the key for tough dogs. However, this is not possible for all medicines, so you should talk to your veterinarian about it. If your pill comes in a form such as a powder, see if you can get the same medicine assembled into a cream. Many medicines have different options. Years ago, Lucas took a medicine that we could have mixed in a cream to rub on his skin instead of forcing him to take it orally. Great Victory! Also ask your veterinarian if you can grind your dog’s pill. You can not do this with all medications, but it is worth asking. At the moment Cooper’s arthritis medicine can be in powder form, so we are doing that PLUS the next round and have no problem giving it to him three times a day.

Success Rate: High

Wet Food Sandwich

With the arthritis pill that can be opened and sprinkled, we simply spread a layer of wet food from the farm dog on a plate, sprinkle the powder on top, then spread another layer of wet food on the powder. It’s like a Sandwich where the wet food is the bread! He licks everything like that! He is currently eating a croquette for breakfast and dinner, so this fresh food is a very special treat. I am convinced that if we used his normal food, it would not work.

Success Rate: High


Depending on your dog’s nutritional needs, cook meatballs from his favorite protein. Instead of fresh meat, since Cooper’s diet is so restrictive, we made meatballs from TFD Fresh Food, but! Here’s the trick! Thanks to one of our long-time favorite Internet canine mothers who suggested that we freeze pills in baby food, we started with a modified Version with TFD. It’s a brilliant idea that worked pretty well most of the time, I think because of the texture problem.

Success Rate: Average

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