If your dog has an allergic reaction or starts itching too much, and you need something that works faster than a regular allergy pill, you may ask yourself about Benadryl for dogs. Giving a dog Benadryl, or any other antihistamine, isn’t something you should take lightly, especially if you haven’t researched a safe dose. While Benadryl may be an over-the-counter medication that contains diphenhydramine, a common active ingredient used to treat allergy symptoms and other common ailments, too much of any drug can be toxic or even lethal.
Below, we’ll discuss whether dogs can take Benadryl, how much Benadryl to give a dog (proper dosage), side effects to look for, and alternative treatments to consider.
Can Dogs Take Benadryl?
You should never give your dog any type of medication without first consulting your veterinarian. But, in most cases, it is usually safe for dogs to have Benadryl. As long as you give the correct dosage, which we will discuss later in this article, you can even give Benadryl to puppies. Benadryl can be used to treat bee stings, itchiness due to allergic reactions, and hives. It may also be used to treat dogs that have anxiety or to keep them calm on long car rides.
Diphenhydramine is an H1 antagonist that will help to keep histamine levels in the body to a minimum. This helps to relieve most allergy symptoms, including inflammation and red, watery eyes. There are few known side effects to taking this drug, but it is known to cause drowsiness. In fact, diphenhydramine is commonly found in a number of sleep aids.
While this is a drug commonly taken by humans, Benadryl is not FDA-approved for animals. However, Benadryl is oftentimes perfectly safe for dogs and your vet will likely have no problem approving this course of treatment.
Benadryl is often used to treat the following conditions in dogs:
- Reactions to vaccines
- Insect bites and stings
- Reactions to blood transfusions
- Allergic skin diseases
- Inflammation of mast cell tumors
- Motion sickness
One thing to keep in mind is that in many countries outside of the US, diphenhydramine is not a common ingredient in anti-histamine products (they mostly use cetirizine instead). It is important to make sure that you read the label before giving your dog an anti-histamine, to make sure that diphenhydramine is the active ingredient.
How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Dog?
Before you can know how much Benadryl to give to your dog, you need to know which type of Benadryl you are using, as there are different Benadryl products on the market. You may also find generic products that contain diphenhydramine, which share the same active ingredient as Benadryl, but are a lot less expensive.
However, you need to be careful because some of these generic medications may also contain acetaminophen and/or pseudoephedrine which are known to be toxic to dogs. Also, you should avoid products that contain alcohol, artificial flavorings, or sweeteners. These are known to be bad for dogs.
The normal dose of Benadryl for an adult dog is between 2 to 4 mg per kilogram or 0.9 to 18 mg per pounds of the dog’s body weight. In some cases, especially with puppies, your vet may recommend that you give them baby Benadryl instead.
The optimal dose of Benadryl can vary and depends on the dog’s history with the medication, their condition, and other health issues. Always check with your veterinarian before giving your dog any medications (including Benadryl).
Side Effects of Benadryl For Dogs
While it is generally safe for dogs to take Benadryl, they may experience the following side effects:
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heart rate
- Depression or excitability
If you notice that your dog is experiencing any of these side effects after having Benadryl, you should contact your vet immediately.
There is also the risk of your dog overdosing on Benadryl if you give them too much or if they chew into a bottle. If you think this is the case, please monitor your dog for the following symptoms:
- Extreme lethargy and drowsiness
- Fast or slow heart rate
- Muscle twitching or tremors
- Strange behavior
- Trouble breathing
- Higher-than-normal blood pressure
Contact your vet immediately if your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms or if your dog collapses or has seizures from taking Benadryl.
Alternatives to Benadryl
Some people worry about giving their dogs chemical formulations such as Benadryl because they are worried about the possible side effects. Yes, Benadryl is oftentimes safe to take but, like any other medication, there are no guarantees.
Luckily, there are natural alternatives you can also consider. For instance, Anxietrex is a totally safe treatment for dogs that have anxiety. It causes no side effects and can be used for dogs of all ages.
Another option is Derma-lonX, which also has no side effects. This is used to treat skin conditions caused by allergies, skin irritations, and itching in dogs of all ages.
Yes, You Can Give Your Dog Benadryl in the Proper Dosages
Dogs have many of the same medical conditions as humans including allergic reactions which may cause itching, inflammation, and red, watery eyes. These allergies can often be treated with Benadryl. As long as your vet says it is okay, you should have no problem giving your dog Benadryl to treat allergic reactions, anxiety, and/or other health issues.