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Pet Medication – Pills or Liquid?

December 29, 2009 By: admin Category: All Sick Dog Blog Posts, Cat Health and Cat Care, Cat Medications, Pet Medications

Pet Medication – Opt for Pills or Capsules for a Happy Dog and Owner! (Thiago Miqueias Photo)

If you take a sick dog (or cat) to the veterinary clinic, your vet may prescribe medication. Some pet medications are available as a caplet or pill and in liquid form. On occasion, a vet may ask the owner what type of pet medication they’d prefer – pill or liquid.

I always recommend opting for pet medication in pill form. This will make medicating the pet much easier, for both dog and owner.

Reasons to Opt for Pet Medication in Pill Form

If you are given a choice on your next trip to the veterinary clinic, I strongly recommend opting for the pill version of the dog’s medication. Here are a few reasons why I always pick the pill or caplet over the liquid medication.


  • Imprecise dosing of the dog’s medicine – Imprecise dosing is a huge problem with liquid pet medication. If your pet spits out the liquid, you have no idea how much he’s consumed. Some dogs will suddenly turn their head away as the owner is squirting the medication into the dog’s mouth, leading to a partial dose. So you’re left with a difficult decision – leave the dog with a partial dose or try to give a full dose and risk giving too much medication since you’re unsure how much he spit out. Pills are easy – it’s all or nothing.
  • Problems giving medication to the dog – With liquid, your dog actually tastes the medication, so he’s more apt to object. When a dog refuses to take medication, you’ll face a physical struggle. This increases the chances that the dog will spit out medication, leaving you to face the aforementioned partial dose vs. possible overdose dilemma.
  • Increased cost of pet medication – With a liquid medication, there’s a chance you could spill the bottle (especially if you leave it uncapped nearby and your dog starts to struggle when you attempt to give the medicine). Pet owners may also need to buy additional medication for the dog if he spits it out or if the dog turns his head as you’re releasing the pet medication into his mouth.
  • Lack of methods for giving the dog medication – It’s hard to give a pet medicine if it’s in liquid form. You only have one option: to open the dog’s mouth and squirt the medication inside.

With pet medication in pill form, you have many dosing options, which I’ve discussed in several different articles on The Sick Dog Blog:

Pet owners may also want to read about a common mistake – trying to hide pet medication in dog food or cat food. Read this article on The Sick Dog Blog to learn why you should never try to hide a dog’s pill in pet food.

Granted, pet ownership is not an exact science. So there may be a few dogs out there who take liquid medication without a problem. If a pet owner has tried liquid pet medication and it works well,  then by all means, go for the liquid! But in my experience with literally dozens of dogs and cats over the years (and remember, I own and foster special needs animals, so our animals take more pills in a week than many pets take in a lifetime!) it’s virtually always easier to give a pill instead of liquid. And with pills and caplets, there is less chance that you’ll need to purchase more pet meds due to a “misfire” with the liquid. And missed doses or partial doses of pet medication can mean a longer course of medication for the pet, which means more doses and more money spent on the cat’s or dog’s medication.

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