How to Get Your Dog to Take Medicinal Capsules

Only feed your dog one capsule at a time.

Only feed your dog one capsule at a time.

It's amazing how dogs who eats everything from cat feces to yesterday's garbage draw the line at medicinal capsules. Some capsules can be opened and sprinkled over food. However, many medications lose their effectiveness if exposed to light, and, therefore, must be eaten inside an closed capsule.

Place a thin slice of high-value food flat on the counter. The goal is to choose a food that your dog loves so much, he'll scarf down the entire thing without pausing. Lettuce, for example, isn't particularly appealing to most dogs, while cheese and lunch meat are appealing edible wrappings.

Roll the capsule inside the slice of food and fold up the edges. Some dogs have particularly sensitive noses that can smell through the yummy exterior to the medicinal capsule hidden inside. When you finish concealing the capsule, the result should resemble a ball of delicious meat or cheese.

Command your dog to sit and feed him the treat-wrapped capsule. Especially if your dog usually sits for treats, telling him to do so before giving him the medicine will reinforce the idea that you're feeding him a treat, instead of something worthy of suspicion. Use an odorous food, such as Swiss cheese or cured meat, to disguise the smell of the medicinal capsule.

Wait a few minutes and switch food wrappings if your first attempt to feed your dog his medicine results in him swallowing the food, but spitting out the capsule. For example, wrap the medicine in salami for the second attempt, if you tried using cheese the first time. Giving him the same food again will arouse suspicion and cause him to swallow the food while again rejecting the pill.

Items you will need

  • Cheese slices
  • Salami slices


  • Use the above methods before anything more forceful to avoid causing your dog, and yourself, any unnecessary anxiety.
  • If, after a few attempts, your dog still rejects the pill capsule, you'll need to resort to more assertive methods. Open his mouth and toss the pill as far back on his tongue as possible. Close his jaw, hold his mouth shut and point his nose upward. Encourage him to swallow by gently, but firmly, stroking his throat. You can also encourage him to swallow by blowing gently on his nose as you hold his mouth shut. When you see him lick his nose in response to the feeling of air blowing across it, you will know he has swallowed. Reward him with a treat immediately afterward.


  • Don't leave medication wrapped inside food for more than a few minutes. Otherwise, the moisture and grease in the food will dissolve the capsule shell.

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About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.

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