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How to give a dog medicine

Filed Under: pets

English Bulldog lying in grass
A few weeks ago I took my 8-year-old English Bulldog to the vet. I thought he'd get his annual shots and we'd be on our way. Instead, he was diagnosed with arthritis (which I suspected) and I was also given the news that it was finally time to surgically correct his protruding third eyelid. Bummer.

Last week my dog went under the knife. Not only did they correct his eyelid, he also got a dental cleaning, and had his far-too-long nails trimmed back. The poor puppy was a mess. He came home, woozy from the anesthesia, and staggered around my living room like someone who had spent too many hours at the bar. But, in the days since, he's healing well.

Not only have my dog and I had to deal with the massive Elizabethan collar he's wearing, we've also had to deal with his multiple medications. It hasn't been fun. I've done some searching for tips on the web and gotten some advice from my vet on administering medications to dogs. I'll share the tips after the break.

How to give your dog medicine(click thumbnails to view gallery)

Dog medicationsE-collarAdministering pillsDisguising pillsEye drops

Liquid Medicine
  • Angle your dog's head up, then put the syringe with measured medicine inside his cheek pouch and administer the medicine. My dog has very loose cheek pouches, so I've found it best to open his mouth a bit to insert the syringe.
Ear drops
  • According to Dogs for Dummies, you should place a towel over your lap and encourage your dog to rest his head on your knees. Gently hold his ear, insert the drops, and rub your dogs ear. I've never had to give my dog ear drops, but my sister has to give them to her English Setter. She has the most luck when she lightly taps his nose with one finger to distract him while she's inserting the drops. After the drops are in, her dog loves to have his ears rubbed.
Eye drops

  • Dogs for Dummies recommends sitting with your dog between your knees and angling their head up so you can hit them with the drops from behind.
  • My dog is currently wearing an Elizabethan collar (E-collar) so the Dogs for Dummies method won't work for us. I've found that it works best if I give him his antibiotic pill in a bit of peanut butter first then -- while he's busy smacking on the treat -- sneak the drops in his eye. My vet assures me that they overfill the bottles a bit because they know that not every drop will hit its target.
  • When my dog had his other eye operated on (cherry eye is a common condition for Bulldogs) the vet gave me a gel. It was easy to administer by rubbing a bit on with my finger, but my dog hated it with a passion.

Whatever medication your dog is receiving, it's important for you to stay calm while administering it. Dogs are sensitive creatures -- if you're nervous, they'll pick up on that. Use a soothing voice and distract your dog from what you're doing. When the pill, shot, or drops have been successfully administered, be sure to praise your best friend for a job well done.


  • matt

    We use marshmallows.

    Butterfly open a large one left over from your last smore cookout and put the pill inside and the sticky marshmallow will hold it inside.


  • Angel

    If the pills are big I cut them in half and then I wrap a piece of cold-cut ham or turkey around it so she can't tell there's a pill wrapped in there. She typically gulps these down anyway without even taking a bite. I use to just mix it in with her food even in gravy but wouldn't you know there would be a lone pill waiting at the bottom of the bowl.

  • Maggie Vink

    Thanks for the tips! Angel, my dog would do the same thing in his food bowl. I never thought he'd notice the pill in his bowl, but it was always lying there by its lonesome. Funny... I never thought he was all that bright! It turns out he's smarter than I thought!

  • Diane Rixon

    Cute dog!

  • Josh

    For pills do what you suggest but instead of rubbing the throat blow a puff of air at the dogs nose. This causes them to swallow.

  • Anna Sattler

    My dog was shot last year, so he had to wear the gigantic e-collar too. He kept getting stuck on everything, cause he is a big dog. I wrapped his pill in some cheese, and he swallowed it down. He happens to be a gassy pig, so when he burped, I knew the pill was down.

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