Benadryl for Dogs? What You Need to Know!
18 July, 2017
Benadryl for dogs

Benadryl, which most of us humans use from time-time, is one of the few over-the-counter drugs that veterinarians often recommend for dogs. Benadryl can be used for allergic reactions, travel and to reduce anxiety.  However, even though Benadryl is very well tolerated, there are a few things to keep in mind.

As always, consult your veterinarian before giving your dogs’ Benadryl (or any medication).

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl is an over-the-counter antihistamine that calms allergic reactions to environmental allergens, insect bites or stings, and even some vaccine reactions. Though it is a human drug, it can be given safely with approval from your vet. Diphenhydramine is the active drug in Benadryl that is safe for dogs. Cetirizine may also be mixed with Benadryl and while it may be safe, there is no need to expose your dog to it if it isn’t necessary.

How much Benadryl should you give your dogs?

The general dosage guideline for dogs is 1mg of Benadryl for every one pound of body weight. You should always consult your veterinarian, as there are a number of factors that can change this dosage recommendation. The average dosage included in one Benadryl tablet is 25mg, so a 25-pound dog should be given one tablet. Check the dosage on the package and don’t assume that every product will be the same. Stick to the pill form.

Benadryl can be given to your dog every 8 to 12 hours or about two to three times per day. If you use it frequently, it may begin to lose its effectiveness over time. In most cases, it is better to administer medication before exposure to allergens. Follow your veterinarian’s guidelines, and if a regimen is recommended, stick to it for the duration of your vet’s advisement even if symptoms seem to disappear.

How can you tell if your dog is given too much Benadryl?

It is important to follow your veterinarian’s guidelines strictly. Symptoms of an overdose of Benadryl in dogs include rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, agitation, constipation, and seizures. These symptoms can be life threatening. Some dogs may also have an allergic reaction to the Benadryl itself. Always keep an eye on your dog after their first exposure to the medication.

Benadryl is often recommended for travel and anxiety in dogs

The active ingredient in Benadryl is Diphenhydramine, which is similar to the active ingredient in Dramamine, and is used to treat feelings of nausea and travel sickness. It is sometimes recommended before flights or car rides to reduce symptoms.  The sedative properties of Benadryl can also make it an effective treatment for anxiety. Some owners use it during stressful situations like fireworks or storms that may induce an anxiety attack.

Side effects of Benadryl

The side effects of Benadryl in dogs are similar to the side effects humans might experience with the drug. These include sleepiness, dry mouth, sluggishness, or urinary retention. Some less common side effects that may appear include diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, breathing problems, or loss of appetite. You should call your veterinarian if these symptoms become severe.

Puppies and dogs with certain conditions should not take Benadryl

Puppies may not be able to safely handle the drug, so ask your veterinarian. Combining medications can also cause serious side effects, so if your dog is taking any other drugs, make sure your veterinarian is aware.

Dogs that currently have heart disease, lung disease, glaucoma, high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate, bladder issues, or a previous bad reaction to Benadryl should not be given this medication. Dogs that are pregnant may see complications, as well.

Benadryl definitely has its benefits when used on certain conditions in dogs.  But, as always, your veterinarian will inform you if this is an option for your dog’s condition.

If you are looking for some natural remedies for fleas, check out this article:  Natural Remedies for Fleas


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