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Can You Give Dogs Benadryl For Allergies?

Just like humans, dogs can suffer from allergic reactions that can leave them itchy and uncomfortable.

To help relieve this discomfort, many vets suggest using Benadryl.

However, before giving any to your dog, there are some precautions you should take.

What Is Benadryl Used to Treat?

Most veterinarians use Benadryl to treat allergic reactions in dogs.

Diphenhydramine, the antihistamine in Benadryl, works by blocking the receptors that react to histamines.

While this doesn’t stop the histamines from being produced, it stops the body from registering and reacting to them.

Because of this effect, many vets use it to treat seasonal, environmental, and food allergies in dogs.

It can also be used when a reaction stems from a snake or insect bite.

Most commonly, Benadryl is prescribed to treat skin allergies, although it can also help combat other allergy symptoms such as:

  • Redness and swelling
  • Hives
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Runny nose and eye
  • Anaphylactic reaction

Along with treating allergies, one of Benadryl’s main side effects is drowsiness, which can be useful for calming anxiety in dogs, especially during long periods of travel.

However, before using it for this purpose, you should speak to your vet to ensure that it is okay to administer it.

Side Effects

Along with drowsiness, there is the risk for additional side effects which can include:

  • Hypersalvation
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Urine retention

Rarer side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, and either increased or decreased appetite can also occur.

There are also some conditions that make it unsafe for your dog to take Benadryl.

If your dog has any of the following conditions, you should only give your dog Benadryl if your vet prescribes it.

  • Pregnancy
  • Hypertention
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Allergic Lung disease
  • Seizures
  • Glaucoma

Any of these conditions can have an impact on how Benadryl affects your dog.

So it’s recommended that you speak to your vet before administering any medication to help keep your dog safe.

Is It Allergies or Something Else?

Another reason that you should always speak with your vet before administering Benadryl is the fact that allergies may not always be the cause of your dog’s symptoms.

For instance, while red, droopy eyes could be caused by allergies, they could also be a sign of dry eyes or glaucoma.

Similarly, while itching is a common allergy symptom, there are numerous other skin conditions that can cause similar irritation.

If you give your dog Benadryl without consulting your vet, an underlying issue could be covered up until it becomes more severe.

Benadryl Dosage

The most common dosage of Benadryl that is recommended for dogs is between 2 to 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.9 to 1.8 milligrams per pound.

This dose is usually given between two to three times a day, depending on the symptoms your dog is experiencing.

While it’s preferable to use Benadryl tablets or ointments that are prescribed by your vet, if you choose to use tablets meant for humans, there are some important things to keep in mind.

Firstly, you should never give your dog any medication that also contains a decongestant.

These are toxic to dogs and they will end up doing more harm than good.

Similarly, never give your dog time-release capsules.

Due to the differences in how dogs digest food, these pills are often not effective, as the coatings aren’t broken down thoroughly enough.

Additionally, if your dog bites and pierces the capsule, it may receive the entire dose at once, which can be problematic.

Thirdly, if you have a small dog, you should try and use Benadryl that is formulated for children.

This is because the dosage is easier to adjust, making it better for smaller breeds.

Lastly, if you choose to use a liquid instead of a tablet form of Benadryl, you should speak to your vet to double check the dosage.

Liquid medication is absorbed by the body differently and the above dosage recommendations can be different.

Overdose Signs

As with many other medications, it is possible to overdose on Benadryl, and this can be fatal to your dog.

One of the most common signs of an overdose is hyper-excitability, although there are a few other symptoms which could signify an overdose.

These include:

  • Agitation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Constipation
  • Pupil dilation
  • Seizures

If you have accidentally administered too much Benadryl or if your dog has accidentally ingested Benadryl and you don’t know how much, contact the closed animal hospital immediately.

In some rare cases, dogs can also have an allergic reaction to Benadryl, making it essential to seek help as soon as you can.

Is Benadryl Safe?

Benadryl can be a safe and effective medication when it comes to treating allergic reactions in dogs.

However, as with any other medication, you should take care before administering it.

Always consult your vet before administering Benadryl to ensure that no adverse reactions occur.

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National Canine Research Association of America