How Long Does It Take A Pill To Digest In Dogs

How Long Does It Take A Pill To Digest In Dogs?

Last Updated: August 20, 2023
correct answerThe Short Answer is:

For your dog to digest a pill, it takes about 20-30 minutes. The enteric coating on some pills may slightly extend the time.

In this article you will know the answer to the query “How Long Does It Take A Pill To Digest In Dogs?“.

Giving medication to your dog can be stressful. Usually we do not know what to expect when it comes to their anatomy.

How Long Does It Take A Pill To Digest In Dogs

The situation is no less stressful for your dog who can not understand whats going on. The mischievous nature of dogs can sometimes lead them to eat our meds when we are not looking; which is honestly a nightmare scenario for us.

Many medicines that are completely harmless to us can be deadly to our dogs.

In both of these scenarios you should know what to do as a responsible dog parent so that you are prepared. Let us examine this topic in greater detail.

How long does it take for a medication to digest in a dog?

According to the medication in question the answer can vary. It generally takes around 20-30 minutes for the pill to be digested when taken by mouth. There are some tablets that have an enteric coating which may result in a longer digestion time.

How long does medication stay in the dog’s system?

As with the previous question the answer also heavily depends on the medication you give your dog and what its designed to do. The effects of some medications last only a few hours whereas others can last days or even weeks.

Should dogs be given pills on an empty stomach? How Long Does It Take A Pill To Digest In Dogs?

Its a bit difficult to answer this one. Lets break it down into three points for simplicitys sake:

Certain pills must be taken at specific times of the day; for example some vitamin pills require fat in the stomach for absorption so they must be taken after a meal. Additionally giving pills with food can prevent stomach upset if your dog has a tendency to be upset by certain medications.

Several pills must be taken on an empty stomach such as those taken before surgery.

And finally as a quick answer unless a pill specifies that it should be taken with a meal or only on an empty stomach its generally safe to take on an empty stomach. However to be on the safe side you should always do plenty of research and speak with your vet before giving your dog any pills.

What’s the best way of feeding pills to your dog?

There is no single best way to feed your dog pills. Many people dissolve them in water while others give them food. That largely depends on the dogs personality. You should experiment with different methods to find the best way for your dog. The answer to question 5 is that you’ll have to get creative if your dog is giving you trouble. 

Its also important to mention that some pills should not be dissolved in water. Ask the pharmacist and/or the vet if a medicine can be dissolved in water or if it is available in a liquid or dispersible form.

How to feed pills to reluctant dogs?

Heres where it gets interesting! Dogs do not like the taste of the pill you’re trying to give them and your attempts to persuade them have failed. What should you do? Several things can be done.

Take the pill with food

This one is fairly obvious try mixing the pill with your dogs food. There are some foods that are more suitable to mix with pills than others. When hiding the pill in wet food the chances of success are much higher than when hiding it in dry food.

Dogs however have extremely keen senses. There is a good chance that your dog will discover the pill eventually even if you become a pro at hiding it in his food. Upon hearing “Et tu brute” your dog will become wiser. It will no longer be effective to mix the pill and food. Now what? Lets find out.

Get creative and mix it with treats

This time you’ll have to mix the pill with your dogs favorite treats. You need to give your dog a small bite of a treat without the pill first; let him inspect and smell it thoroughly to make sure there is no pill inside. Continue with a slightly larger bite still without the pill and let your dog examine it if s/he so desires. Give your dog the treat with the pill inside once you’re positive he/she will eat it without inspecting it!

Buy empty gelatin capsules

If your dog is only concerned about the taste of a particular medicine and isnot concerned with taking pills in general this method will work quite well. Place the pill inside an empty gelatin capsule which you can get for cheap. You would not have to worry about your dog tasting the medicine and your problem will be resolved.

Crush the tablet (or open the capsule)

Before crushing or opening a pill make sure it can be crushed. You should check with your veterinarian or the medication label to ensure that it is safe to do so with the pill. Then ask your veterinarian for one that can be crushed/opened or ask for one that can be dispersed in wet food.

It is safe to crush (or open) the medicine and mix it well with your dogs food. Make sure it is evenly distributed. Dry food is not the best option for this.

Put it in peanut butter

This counts as hiding it in food. This method works quite well for dogs who are fond of peanut butter as many are. To begin make sure the peanut butter you use does not contain xylitol since it is toxic to dogs. If you are sure your dog can take the pill coat it in peanut butter and give it to him. In addition if the pill is safe to crush or open (again speak with your veterinarian beforehand) you can also do that and mix it with the peanut butter.

What should I do if my dog eats my medication?

Any dog parent would consider this a nightmare scenario. You should do the following:

Make sure that your pet is not in the area and that no children or other pets are exposed to the medication. Remove and store the medication properly.

Check on your dog to make sure s/he is breathing and acting normally.

Make sure you keep a sample of the medicine your dog took as well as its packaging.

Under no circumstances should you attempt home remedies. They could worsen the problem.

It is NOT advisable to use hydrogen peroxide or any other form of vomiting to induce your dogs vomiting. In addition to not typically working these methods will stress out your dog who is already under the weather. Moreover you’ll waste a lot of precious time trying this out. 

The Pet Poison Helpline can be reached at +1-855-764-7661 or by calling your veterinarian. Tell them what happened and follow the instructions they provide.

How long does it take a dog to digest food?

A dog will typically digest a meal fully between 6 and 10 hours but this can greatly vary based on a number of factors. Depending on your dogs age breed size and most importantly the meal itself he can fully digest a meal in as little as four hours or as long as twelve. How long it takes your dog to digest the meal will be primarily determined by the meal. A wet meal will digest quicker than a dry one.


The topic of dog medication is a complicated one so today we discussed what you should do if your dog eats your medication. We included the following highlights in the article:

For your dog to digest a pill it takes about 20-30 minutes. The enteric coating on some pills may slightly extend the time.

Depending on your dogs personality you can feed pills to him in the best way. Find out what works for your best friend by experimenting.

Some of the tricks you can use to get your reluctant dog to take pills include mixing the pill with his regular food mixing it with treats putting it in a gelatin capsule and coating the pill with peanut butter.

Try not to waste time on home remedies or trying to make your dog vomit if he eats your medication. You should immediately remove your dog from the site and remove all medication from easy reach.

Dogs are capable of digesting food for six to ten hours on average. Your dogs age breed and size may affect how long it takes to digest food.

Thats all there is to it. You should feel more prepared to be a dog parent as a result of reading this article. If theres a topic you want us to cover in more depth let us know.

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Amanda Dogs Trainer

Amanda (Author)

With over a decade of experience, Amanda is a distinguished dog trainer. Her expertise in canine behavior has transformed countless lives, fostering harmonious human-canine connections. Through compassionate and personalized approaches, she empowers owners to understand and connect with their furry companions, creating a legacy of joyful tails and transformed lives.

Osvaldo Maciel Dogs Trainer

Osvaldo Maciel (Content Reviewer)

Osvaldo Maciel, a stalwart in the field with 14 years of experience, is a revered dog trainer. His journey is defined by a profound understanding of canine behavior, shaping unbreakable human-canine bonds. Osvaldo guides owners to connect with their beloved pets, leaving an indelible mark of happiness and transformation. His legacy shines through the countless lives he has touched.

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