Whenever our pets are suffering, our instinctive reaction is to find whatever we can to ease their pain or symptoms. There are dog owners that swear by using Benadryl for dogs suffering from allergic reactions. It is a simple, accessible choice that they happen to have in the house. They also swear that it works wonders for reducing symptoms and that there are also potential benefits for other conditions.
This all sounds great, but there is always a risk that medication for human consumption won’t be suitable for dogs. After all, they have different anatomies, metabolisms and could have some pretty major reactions. So, is Benadryl safe for dogs? If so, how much Benadryl can I give to my dog and what should we be aware of?
Is Benadryl safe for dogs?
The short answer here is yes. Benadryl is safe for dogs when used in the right dosage. These pills can work to relieve the symptoms of environmental allergies, food intolerances, and other allergic reactions. There is also good anecdotal evidence for motion sickness and anxiety. But, you do need to be careful with the dosage and the form of Benadryl, while also watching out for side effects, medical complications, and overdose risks. Vets can help with this and offer guidance on related issues and other natural alternatives.
Let’s learn more about what Benadryl does and the pros and cons of its use as an aid for allergy relief.
What is Benadryl?
Benadryl is the common product name for diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that works as a receptor antagonist. When histamines triggered by allergens, either environmental, seasonal, or food allergens, reach receptors, these antagonists block them. Therefore, users start to see relief from the usual symptoms, such as sneezing, a runny nose, itching, hives, etc. This is a common tool against allergies for humans and it works the same way for pets.
Benadryl can help dogs with their allergy symptoms and also aid anxiety.
The main reason that dog owners use this human product is to help with allergy symptoms. This could be seasonal allergies, such as reactions to grasses and pollen, or other irritants that result in skin complaints. Many dogs deal with insect bites and other infestations so it is nice to have an over-the-counter, accessible option like Benadryl that can help. You may also find that the antihistamine is effective enough to help some dogs exhibiting food allergies.
It is also worth remembering that this product has other potential health-care benefits for dogs. There are dog owners that see success with this product when treating conditions like motion sickness and anxiety. So, you might want to consider using this when you know that you are about to take a car journey or that there will be some other triggering event. It can produce just enough of a calming effect to make the situation a little easier. Just make sure to do this around 30 minutes beforehand to give the drug time to work.
What is the Correct Dosage for Your Pet?
The general rule here is to use 2-4mg per Kg. This is a little vague, so it is best to be cautious and to talk to your vet. You can also adapt this when dealing with smaller dogs by switching to a children’s version of Benadryl. Child Benadryl formulas are less potent, as you would expect, and don’t have the same alcohol content. This makes them a lot safer but might also mean that they aren’t as effective for larger dogs as the normal version. If in doubt, play it safe. Also, make sure not to use any slow-release tablets that could cause problems if chewed in the mouth.
When you use Benadryl for dogs in a safe dosage for the right reasons, you should find that it is an effective solution for allergic reactions and other issues. However, there are cases where this isn’t the case. There are risks of side effects, medical conditions where Benadryl usage should be avoided, and the risk of overdose.
Are there any side effects to watch out for?
As with many medications, there is a risk that some pets will develop side effects. Some of these will be common and aren’t necessarily a cause for alarm. Others may be more concerning, especially if they end up lasting a long time or causing distress or other medical issues. Also, many of these showcase symptoms that are at both ends of a scale, which shows that dogs can react very differently
Common sides effects of Benadryl for dogs include the following.
Rare side effects to look out for include:
Risk factors that limit the use of Benadryl for dogs
There are cases where Benadryl isn’t a suitable option for dogs. This tends to be if your pet has an underlying health condition where the drugs involved could cause medical complications. Dogs with any of the following medical conditions should not have Benadryl when dealing with allergic reactions. If you are uncertain, play it safe and use something that you know it suitable.
You should never give this to your pet if they have:
There is also an overdose risk here
Finally, we need to look at the risk of overdose when dealing with all these risk factors. It is possible that owners will give their dog too much due to miscalculations over bodyweight. Or, they may give too much in one day or use the wrong form. Either way, an overdose can be fatal if you don’t spot the signs early on. Any stress and hyper-excitability of the central nervous system can lead to death. Look out for the following:
If you see any of these, take your dog in for emergency care.
Natural alternatives to Benadryl for anxiety or for allergic reactions
It is understandable if you don’t feel comfortable giving Benadryl to your dog because of these warnings. The last thing that you want to accidentally give your pet the wrong amount and put them at risk of these side effects. This is especially true for any dogs with underlying medical conditions or smaller breeds. Also, you may not feel comfortable giving dogs a pharmaceutical drug if there are natural alternatives out there instead.
If you are concerned about the risks posed to your pets by giving them Benadryl, you can always try some natural alternatives instead. Dog’s that have problems with skin allergies and related symptoms often do well with a change of diet and some natural shampoos. You can soothe the skin and help it heal. Those that are keen to use Benadryl for canine anxiety may prefer to look into natural CBD oil products or compression vests instead. They can be just as calming with fewer risks.
Your vet is always on hand to provide the best possible advice.
As with any treatment option for your pet, it is important that you talk to your vet to be sure of providing the best possible care. Dogs dealing with allergies, or at least allergy symptoms, should undergo checks to get to the root of the problem. There is the chance that you have misdiagnosed runny eyes or other issues as allergy symptoms when there is another medical condition to worry about. A clear diagnosis then allows for some vet recommended products and better guidance on how to help your pet. The same is true with any anxiety disorders.
Go through your options and see which is right for your pet. If you are right about seasonal allergies and keen to try Benadryl for dogs, your vet can provide an accurate idea of dosages or any warnings about its use related to your pet’s health.
How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Dog?
In summary, the best way to be sure of the correct dosage for your dog is to speak to your vet. 2-4mg per kg is one average given by medical professional, they may have another option. Also, the dosage and timing of this treatment depend on the type of Benadryl used and the condition. Medical guidance is essential with so many variables at play, especially when there are side-effect and overdose risks.
If you are happy to try Benadryl for dog allergies or anxiety, and get the right guidance from your vet, you could find that this is a great solution. The same simple antihistamine pill you use for your seasonal allergies could end up providing relief for your canine companion too. Use it responsibly and help your pet get the best relief possible.