Diphenhydramine for Dogs
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.