Can Dogs Have Benadryl?
You may not think about allergies as a reason for your dog’s scratching, lack of appetite or constant sneezing but in reality, it is just as likely for them as it is for us! Dogs can suffer allergies just as often and easily as humans can, only they can’t do anything about it themselves.
Since it is up to us to try and keep our pets happy and healthy you should learn to recognize whether or not your pet is suffering from allergies.
Common Allergy Symptoms Include:
- Hot spots
- Red/Watery eyes (potentially with discharge)
- Lack of appetite
Types of Allergens
The most common allergies in pets are flea and food allergies – however, the other two main categories for allergies in pets include contact and airborne. (Contact allergens include certain soaps, shampoos, type of dirt, etc. Airborne allergies include dust, molds and more.)
You may notice your dog chewing his feet or certain patches of skin more than others. If your dog is allergic to fleas they will likely scratch their skin raw or even cause the skin to break open – which could lead to bacterial infections in some cases.
No matter what your pet is allergic to there is always a way for you to help your poor dog. In most cases, an over the counter allergy medicine will work just fine and relieve most symptoms.
However, if your dog is allergic to a food item then the process is a little more difficult. In order to determine what food(s) your dog is allergic to you will likely have to do so by process of elimination.
When to See a Vet
If you have tried an over the counter allergy medication such as Diphenhydramine (a generic form of Benadryl) and it has not made a significant difference in your pets’ symptoms then you should consult your vet.
Since many of the symptoms of allergies can also be symptoms of illness it is important to contact your vet if no improvement is seen within 24 hours. If your dog has been vomiting or suffering from diarrhea then it is even more important they see a vet right away.
You will also want to talk to your vet if you think your dog’s allergic to a food product as they will be able to guide you through the proper steps to figure out the allergen by process of elimination. Some vets may even offer a test similar to a scratch test used on humans.
Why Choose Diphenhydramine?
Being the generic form of Benadryl this medication is the most commonly used allergy medication in dogs and in humans as well. It is an effective antihistamine that relieves most allergy symptoms as well as insect stings, motion sickness and more.
If you already have Benadryl in your home you can give your dog a plain version (not combined with any cold/flu/sinus medications) – however if it will be given regularly then Diphenhydramine is far less expensive.
Diphenhydramine is recommended by vets all over the world and it is 100% Guaranteed to work – and it does work extremely well for most common allergies as well as stings and more.
Common side effects of this medication include drowsiness and dry mouth most commonly. In rare cases it may actually cause vomiting and diarrhea, in which case you should contact your vet to see what medication they suggest.
For most dogs this medication is perfect for relieving symptoms of flea allergies (itching, scratching, hotspots), contact allergens (hair loss, hotspots) and airborne allergens (sneezing, coughing) and should work within an hour of taking the medication.
Most of the time the hardest part for pet parents is getting their dog to take the pill. Hiding it in a piece of food, covering it in peanut butter or putting it in a pill pocket are all great ways to trick your dog into taking their medicine!
Overall, this medication is the oldest antihistamine on the market and it can relieve even the worst allergy symptoms in most dogs. It is highly recommended by vets and it has glowing reviews from many pet parents all over the world.
Does your dog suffer from seasonal allergies? Or perhaps he just got stung in the nose by a bee he was chasing like my dog did… Either way, this (or something highly similar) is likely the reason you were looking at Diphenhydramine.
Seasonal allergies, bug bites and stings, dry and itchy skin and more are all common conditions or problems for dogs as well as humans. It can be frustrating to try and control allergens, especially if the allergen is not within your control such as in a food or chemical allergy.
The good news is that one of the oldest antihistamines around, Benadryl, has a generic version that you can get for your dog called Diphenhydramine.
What is Diphenhydramine and what is it for?
This medication is an antihistamine and a generic form of the brand name medications Benadryl and Vetadryl. It works by blocking off the part of the brain (histamines) that are reacting poorly to the allergen.
This allows temporary relief of symptoms of common allergies such as couching, itching, sneezing, watery eyes, runny or stuffy nose and more.
It is also excellent in cases of bug bites or stings which often cause a mild allergic reaction in dogs as well as people.
You can get this medication over the counter, though it is highly recommended that you consult with your vet before administering any over the counter human medication such as this one.
How Much Should I Give My Dog?
Since it is not FDA approved for use in dogs and is not manufactured specifically for pets, proper dosage is absolutely necessary. You should always talk to your vet and ask them for their suggestion on proper dosage of any medication.
It is easy to overdose a dog on a medication such as this one as it is a very strong antihistamine. The general rule is 1-2mg per pound every 8-12 hours. The exact amount is hard to determine if you are not 100% sure of your dog’s weight – so going on the lower side is always safest.
How Can I get My Dog to Take a Pill?
Getting your dog to take a pill can be tricky. Personally, I’ve always had the best luck with a plain ole’ piece of American cheese. Both my dogs were more than happy to gulp down the special treat with no regards to the pill inside.
However, my dogs were not ones to chew their food very well either – as most dogs aren’t. If your dog is one who would likely chomp into the pill and realize something was off you may need to be more discrete.
You can try making the treat more enticing, a piece of meat instead (or in addition to the cheese). If this doesn’t work then you may benefit from a treat called a pill pocket. These are treats with a hole dug out in the middle to stick the pill.
Most dogs – even ones who were not fooled by regular food – were perfectly willing to eat pill pockets. I have a friend whose dog absolutely loves them! Maybe they don’t think we’re bribing them into eating a pill when it seems like a “normal” treat?
Should You Ask Your Vet About Diphenhydramine?
If your dog was recently bitten or stung by a bug and is having an allergic reaction (including swelling, itching or pain) then you should probably consult your vet about giving your dog Diphenhydramine.
It will likely improve their symptoms quickly, letting them rest comfortably.
You may also want to consult your vet about this medication if you think your dog has seasonal allergies. This could include excessive itching, dry skin, watery eyes, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose and even coughing.
If you’ve done everything else you can think of to help your allergic pet, then this may be a good option. It is often enough to help ease your dog through the season when their allergies are the worst.
Due to the sedation effects of this medication, it may also be given to pets for motion sickness and travel anxiety. The sedation effect will help keep your pet calm, or even asleep, through the stressful experience.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Every medication out there comes with at least a small list of potential side effects. For this medication the list is rather short and most side effects are very minor as well as rare.
The main side effects seen in dogs taking diphenhydramine include dry mouth, urine retention, vomiting, diarrhea and sleepiness. More severe side effects include depression, loss of appetite and even an allergic reaction to the antihistamines.
If you have given your dog more than the proper dose (or you are worried you may have) then these are the signs to look out for: extreme sedation, extreme drowsiness, coma, respiratory depression and potentially death. This is why proper dosage is so important!
Common FAQs about Diphenhydramine
Can I give my dog Benadryl?
Yes, Benadryl not FDA approved for dogs, however it is common in veterinary practice to suggest using this in the event of allergies, insect stings or bites and anxiety or motion sickness.
Does it matter what type of antihistamine it is?
Not really – as long as it has the same active ingredients as Diphenhydramine it doesn’t matter whether it is name brand or over the counter. The results you want to achieve will be the same.
Just be sure when buying over the counter to avoid antihistamines with cold or flu medicine mixed in as that could be very harmful to your dog.
Photo Credits: Photo by Patrice Alsteen