Pilling your Pets

Pilling your Pets

Pilling your Pets

The majority of us need to regularly pill our pets. For most of us it’s only four times a year – for routine de-worming. However, many of our clients have pets who need more frequent twice daily medicating for a course or in some cases for life.  The successful treatment of diseases like heart disease, arthritis and some dermatoses hinge on your ability to dose the prescribed medicines, so I thought it would be appropriate to give some tips on medicating our wriggly little patients.

Dog Park EttiquettePilling your Pets


I generally distract my corgis with a tasty snack first, but this generally doesn’t work because they know what’s coming! Nonetheless its nice to treat them if you’re about to shove something bitter down their shnoz.

If smearing liver pate or cream cheese on the outside of the pill doesn’t work, try placing the pill in a tube of penne pasta. This is a new trick that I learnt and works so well with my dogs.

If these clandestine methods of trickery don’t work, you’ll need to use some physical methods to get that tablet down.

Step 1: Approach

Open the shnoz. This is especially difficult if you own a pug or other ‘brachycephalic’ breed of dog. Be decisive in opening the mouth so that your dog doesn’t think that she can wriggle away from you.

Step 2: Tablet drop

Place the tablet as far back to the base of the tongue as possible to encourage swallowing. Dogs have a reflex where when their mouth is being manipulated, they will be unlikely to breath in. So don’t worry about the thought of your dog inhaling the tablet – it’s not going to happen, so get that tablet as FAR BACK as possible!

Step 3: Encourage the swallow!

Tip your pet’s head back so the nose is pointing the sky. Then rub your pet’s neck vigorously (while praising them :))

If this hasn’t made a swallow response, gently blowing on their nose can help.

Step 4: Water Swallow

The ‘chipmunking’ effect is where you think all went well and the tablet is now firmly in the stomach, only to find the sticky pill on the couch next to you 5 minutes later. To prevent this, the best way is to get a 5mL syringe and give water to your dog to make her swallow.

Step 5: Pats

Make sure you reward her for being so compliant with your pilling this might make it easier for next time.

Master these 5 steps and you should have it down pat!


Cats are much easier to pill if you get the positioning right as they have a much more robust swallowing response..

Using your non-dominant hand, hold your cat under her cheekbones and move the head so it is facing the ceiling. With your dominant hand drop the bottom jaw and place the pill at the bottom of the tongue. Then using your index finder, gently ‘pop’ it into the throat to encourage a swallow response.

There’s a great video here depicting how to pill your cat

 Dr Sam Kovac