How to Safely and Effectively Give Meds to Pets

Though it’d be a lot easier if they did, not all dogs and cats will take a pill that’s simply dropped in their food.

Luckily, there are tons of different ways you can “trick” your pet into taking their meds, whether they need them on a daily basis or just every once in a while. It’s important to remember that how you approach the situation dictates how your cat or dog will react. Since they often play off your emotions and can read you well, if you’re worried, anxious or freaking out in any way, they might too. Feeling (or at least acting) like you know what you’re doing will help the situation greatly. Treats help too.

Before ever administering any medication, it’s important to have really talked to the vet to understand how often, when and how the meds should be taken. Knowing things like whether the meds should be taken with or without food are especially important. The vet should also be able to give tips and tricks on how to administer your specific meds.

We’ve got the most common kinds of medications and tips on how to best get your pet to take them. But first…

The Donts

  • Even if you can’t confirm, for whatever reason, that your pet took their pill, never risk doubling up. It’s usually better to have missed one med than to have taken too many. (Though you should consult with your vet if you’re nervous).
  • Never crush pills into a powder. The coating of the pills is often used to slowly administer the medicine to the body or to soften the blow to your dogs blood stream. Powder also tastes much worse and it will be harder to get your pet to take it that way.
  • If your pet is supposed to take two pills twice a day, don’t resort to giving him/her four in the morning to make it easier or because you’re going to be home late. If the vet separated them, there’s a reason. You can always call to find out approximately how many hours need to have passed between the dosages, and how many hours is too long.
  • Just like when you’re training your dog to pee outside, give praise when things go well!
  • Forgot the vets instructions or can’t understand what the label means? Google is not your friend here. These pills are for a specific pet for a specific reason – call your vet and don’t start administering until you get your answers.

Oral Medication

This includes pills, capsules, tablets and liquids. If it won’t work to just mix it into food (though usually it will, especially if you use wet food), you can try one of the tips below…

Here’s a tip from Blog Paws: “When giving a dog a pill, slip your thumb into the space behind one of the canine teeth and press upward on the roof of the mouth. As the mouth begins to open, press down on the lower jaw with the opposite thumb. Alternatively, press in on both lips from above the muzzle. As the skin pushes in behind the canines, the larger teeth, the dog will drop their jaw and open its mouth. Insert the pill well to the back of the tongue in the middle of the mouth. If you place the pill too far forward or to the side of the tongue your dog will probably spit it out. After you’ve positioned the pill, close your dog’s mouth and massage or rub its throat gently until swallowing occurs. If your dog licks its nose, the pill has most likely been swallowed. If you’re not sure, try a syringe full of water or a small treat until the pill goes down.”

Some treats will offer a helping hand. Look for meat-flavored treats with hollow centers that will allow for you to hide a pill in the middle. Often toss treats to your pet that they catch in their mouth? Throw 2-3 real treats and then try tossing a pill. Follow up with another real treat.

If you aren’t against using human food as a method, most dogs will gladly take a pill that’s wrapped in a piece of cheese, deli meat or coated in peanut butter. If all else fails and you have a little extra cash, commercial pill hiding products are available.



Oral Liquid Medication

This includes antibiotics, electrolytes, and water solutions. According to Blog Paws, these types of meds “are best administered into the cheek pouch located between the molars and the cheek. The typical method of delivery is with a medicine bottle, dropper, or plastic syringe. You will want to gently tilt your dog’s chin upwards before placing the oral medication into their mouth, which should be swallowed naturally. Be careful not to dispense the liquid too fast as your dog may gag, spit, or cough up the medication. Use praise throughout the process and give a little treat upon completion.”

Drops for the Eyes and Ears

This one usually sounds easier than it is. Unless you’ve got a calm pet that will sit on the floor with you and let you do your thing, you may have to do some work. This may also depend on what exactly you’re treating and if your pet is in any pain from it.

Blog Paws says that for the eyes “it’s best to stroke your pet’s head to promote calmness, tilt their head back, and slowly place the required drop(s) into the eye. From there, gently run your hand on the top of the head and back of the ears while heaping on the praise.”

For the ears, they recommend being super gentle. “Slowly lift the Pinna (ear flap) and drop or place the medication in the opening of the canal. Make sure not to stick the medication tube deep into the canal—let gravity take its course. More than likely your dog will shake his head after receiving the medication. To slow this down, place the palm of your hand on top of your dog’s head until the shaking stops. Then proceed to the other ear if required.”


So maybe you’re scared of needles. Your pet isn’t, and this process will likely be much for painful for you than for him or her.

If the whole process really bugs you, and you can afford the fees, you can always schedule to take your dog to the vet for their daily injections. But if this is not feasible for your schedule or wallet, just have them teach you how to prepare the medicine and watch out for safety considerations. They can recommend where to inject and various tips on exactly how to do it (the angle, amount of pressure, how to hold your pet as you do it, etc.)

Good news? You’re both allowed to have a cookie after.


Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Borg Drone
Past Member 2 years ago

Good tips. Thanks.

Geoff P.
Geoff P.2 years ago

Won't work for cats

Natasha Salgado
natasha salgado2 years ago

The vid makes it look so easy...but it's anything but in reality. Thanks

Duju Eu
Duju Eu2 years ago

v good :)

Duju Eu
Duju Eu2 years ago

v good :)

Jayme Talson
Jayme T.2 years ago

Try giving a cat medicine.... I should be bald....

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers2 years ago

Thank you.

Emma Rose
Emma Rose3 years ago

will I never have to do that with my cat ..I probably had to add liver to his medicine he loves you have to keep the mouth close after you give the medicine and when you blow on the nose they have no choice but to lick and swallow at the same time...

Emma Rose
Emma Rose3 years ago

I use to wet my hand first so the medicine glides down the throat more to the side or sometimes I use ziploc push the bottom tongue down so my nails wont hurt the mouth glides easy..lucky now the heart worm pill is chewable...good thing my pets wont bite me.