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How to Pill a Dog or Cat

Pill taking is one of the biggest challenges to swallow for cats and dogs recovering from amputation surgery. If you are encountering difficulties giving pills to your new Tripawd, here are some tried-and-true ways to make the pill taking process a little easier for the pack:

Giving Pills to Your Dog: How Do You Do It?

  • Hold the pill in your dominant hand between your thumb and forefinger.
  • With your other hand, gently squeeze your dog’s back teeth and lift his jaw toward the ceiling.
  • Using a free finger on your dominant hand, lower his bottom jaw, place the pill on the back of his tongue, then hold his mouth closed.
  • Blow on his nose. If he licks it, the pill is gone!

This How to Give Your Dog a Pill video gives more tips for canine pawrents:

And for our feline Tripawds out there, Veterinarian Dr. Brian Dickinson demonstrates how to & how not to give your cat a pill.


Try a Pill Gun

When all else fails, a pill gun like the Buster Pet Piller With Soft Tip Syringe can do the trick.

Dr. Pam Wiltzius, Tripawds Veterinary Expert, explains how “a pill gun is a plastic syringe (also called a pill gun).  The only problem with these is that you can only do 1 or 2 pills at a time.”

Member jackieandmac says that a pill gun worked for them: “Right now Mac takes over 10 pills at a time so I bought one of those pill dispensers and I wish I had gotten it sooner.  It really has worked, although we still have to squirt the water in to encourage him to swallow.”

The Bullseye Pillgun is another option, and it gets great reviews on Amazon, like this:

“I’ve pilled a lot of cats during my lifetime, and this is the best pill gun I’ve ever used. I originally ordered two but love it so much that I just ordered 20 more to ensure that I have a lifetime supply. This wonderful pill shooter turns the ordeal of pilling into a breeze.”

Do you have a trick to giving your Tripawd pills? If so, share them below in our comments section!

5 Responses to “How to Pill a Dog or Cat”

  1. You will be AMAZED at how easily tablets slide down if you “candy-coat” them like Advil!

    Sugar (a few tablespoons)
    Waxed Paper (parchment paper or a silicone mat will also work)
    Tooth picks
    Your pet’s Rx (pre-cut tablets if necessary)

    Put sugar in a small heavy skillet or shallow pan. Heat until sugar melts. Remove pan from heat. Drop one tablet into the sugar. Using toothpicks, turn/flip tablet to coat with sugar, quickly remove and drop onto waxed paper*.

    Coat remaining tablets. Let cool. Store in a tightly sealed container to keep out moisture, (I kept mine in the refrigerator).

    Tablets only need a light coating of sugar, but they should be completely sealed.
    You may need to ‘swirl’ the toothpick a bit after dropping tablet onto waxed paper so that there aren’t any candy points.
    Work quickly so tablet does not sit in hot sugar. It may help to practice on an aspirin or two until you get the hang of it.

    Best of luck to you and your pets!

  2. Thanks for the tip Laura!

    Readers with dogs fighting cancer, however, may not want to try this since cancer feeds on sugar and carbs.


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