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Can You Give A Dog Zyrtec For Allergies?

Like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies that can make daily life difficult.

While you may be tempted to give your dog allergy medication like Zyrtec, there are some things you should know first.

The Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs

Symptoms can appear a little different in dogs than they do in humans, and it can be helpful to learn the signs that your dog is struggling with allergies.

The most common symptoms of allergies in dogs can include:

  • Rubbing their face and snout with paws or against furniture
  • Excessive itching
  • Chewing on paws and legs
  • Reddened skin
  • Skin swelling and irritation

If allergies are left untreated, the behaviors they cause, such as biting and itching, can cause additional problems in the long term.

Things like skin infections and hair loss can all be caused by excessive licking and itching.

Similarly, a severe reaction to something could cause hives or even anaphylactic shock, which could be deadly.

If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, it’s always a good idea to have them checked out by your vet to determine the best course of action.

Do Vets Prescribe Zyrtec to Dogs?

The active ingredient in Zyrtec is cetirizine, an antihistamine that is commonly prescribed to treat dogs with itchy skin.

Veterinarians commonly prescribe this due to how well most dogs tolerate it, and unlike Benadryl, drowsiness is a rare side effect.

Due to this and how easily Zyrtec can be purchased over the counter, many vets recommend it as an affordable solution to help combat allergies in dogs.

Although it is generally accepted to be safe for dogs, that doesn’t mean that you should run out and buy some without talking to your vet first.

There are a couple of precautions that you need to take before administering this medication to your dog.

Important Precautions

If your dog is prescribed Zyrtec, it’s important to get the right kind.

For example, never give your dog Zyrtec-D, as it contains pseudoephedrine, which is used to help treat congestion in humans.

While this may sound beneficial, it can be lethal when given to dogs as it can cause seizures, heart failure, and even death.

Similarly, if your dog has problems with its kidneys or liver, Zyrtec can make these problems worse.

This is because Zyrtec can cause urine retention which, while not serious in healthy animals, can be detrimental to those with these conditions.

Pregnant and nursing dogs should also not be given Zyrtec as the medication can be transferred from the mother to the puppies either in utero or via nursing.

If this happens, it could lead to serious issues in the puppies as their bodies are too weak to process the strength of the medication.

In some rare cases, dogs can even be allergic to antihistamines, which can make using them to treat allergies a problem.

If you notice your dog’s problems getting worse after taking Zyrtec, you should stop administering it and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Before asking your vet about Zyrtec, you should also notify them of any pre-existing conditions or medications that they are taking.

While this may not be an issue if you’ve been going to the same vet, if you’ve switched vets it’s important that they are up to date.

If a vet prescribed Zyrtec without knowing about other medications, your dog could be put at risk for negative side effects due to interactions between the two medications.

The Correct Dosage

Zyrtec is a hard drug for dogs to overdose on as they have a high tolerance for it, as long as they aren’t allergic to antihistamines.

Generally, most dogs are prescribed one tablet per day, but this can vary depending on the size of your dog and how severe their symptoms are.

These tablets are administered orally and with the right dosage, the risk of side effects is fairly minimal.

Potential Side Effects

While Zyrtec usually has fairly rare side effects, they can still occur and it’s important that you know what to look out for.

The most common side effect is drowsiness, although it is fairly rare.

Usually, if this side effect occurs, it will be when the dosage is too high or when they first start taking it.

Smaller breeds are also more susceptible to experiencing this side effect.

Other side effects that you should be aware of include:

  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Urine retention
  • Excessive salivation
  • Increased excitability

Because dogs can’t communicate how they are feeling like people can, it’s important to keep a close eye on them once they start taking Zyrtec to make sure that any side effects that your dog may experience are only minor.

Ask Your Veterinarian

If your dog is struggling with allergies, ask your vet if Zyrtec is the right option for them.

Never give your dog any medication, including Zyrtec, without first asking your vet.

Although it is usually safe, side effects can occur and if your dog is allergic to antihistamines you may end up making the problem worse.

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National Canine Research Association of America