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Benadryl for Dogs: Your Go-To List of DOs & DON'Ts

What is Benadryl - Understanding the Popular Medicine 

Most dog owners have likely heard of Benadryl. It is an incredibly popular medication that is used primarily for alleviating seasonal allergies. Scientifically speaking, Benadryl is an antihistamine. The drug blocks the H-1 receptors on the blood vessels and smooth muscle which reduces symptoms of allergic reactions. Additionally, Benadryl has been used to treat motion sickness in dogs and also acts as a mild sedative.

While many veterinarians consider Benadryl to have a wide safety margin, there are still dangers and adverse reactions associated with the drug that pet owners should be aware of.

Benadryl for dogs

What is Diphenhydramine 

Benadryl is, in fact, the brand name for the active ingredient diphenhydramine HCL. Diphenhydramine is categorized as a first-generation antihistamine, meaning that it can cross the blood-brain barrier. Because Diphenhydramine is able to cross the blood-brain barrier means that it is typically very effective but also has an increased risk of potential adverse reactions.

Benadryl Ingredients 

Diphenhydramine is the most active ingredient found in Benadryl. As an antihistamine, Diphenhydramine acts to reduce the effects of the chemical histamine within the dog's system.

What is Benadryl Used For?

As most pet owners know (due to their own use of Benadryl), the drug is most commonly used to alleviate allergies. However, what some individuals may not realize is that there are a few other uses of the popular medication.

Benadryl for Allergies 

We'll start with the basics.

When we think about allergies, we typically think about red, itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, etc. Dogs have different symptoms when experiencing allergic reactions. In most cases, dogs show allergy symptoms on the surface of the skin. While it is possible for Fido to show signs of allergies similarly to the way humans show symptoms, you'll want to make sure that your pup doesn't have a more serious condition at hand. Nasal discharge, coughing, and inflamed eyes can be a sign of a slew of conditions, so we want to make sure pet owners don't automatically assume that allergies are at fault.

Benadryl for dogs allergies

Regardless, the bottom line is that your dog can absolutely suffer from allergies and your veterinarian may recommend Benadryl to alleviate your dog's symptoms.

These allergies include:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Environmental allergies
  • Allergic reactions to snake bites
  • Allergic reactions to insect bites

Unfortunately, (despite how badly we wish it were possible) we aren't exactly able to communicate with our dogs in a clear, concise way. We can't tell them to let us know when something in the air is making them feel funny. We also can't describe to them how badly ant bites feel and to make sure to avoid those fun-looking mounds in the grass. For this reason, knowing that Benadryl is safe for dogs (to a degree) makes many dog owners feel at ease if their adventurous pup is prone to itchy situations.

With that said, we want to stress that, like in humans, allergies and other conditions can be mistaken for one another. You'll want to ensure that your pup is suffering from allergies and not a skin infection as Benadryl is not an effective way to treat skin conditions.

Benadryl for Hives 

Benadryl is also known to treat hives in both dogs and humans effectively. In dogs, most cases of hives are merely due to allergic reactions of one kind or another. In humans, hives can be a symptom of several underlying medical conditions so treating it with a medication such as Benadryl will work for the immediate relief, but not for a long-term treatment and is certainly not a cure. While they may look pretty horrific, we want to stress to pet owns not to panic if Fido breaks out in hives as they can be treated typically without any complications.

Benadryl for Anxiety 

The active ingredient in Benadryl is diphenhydramine. The major side effect of diphenhydramine is drowsiness. Therefore, your veterinarian may prescribe Benadryl to help ease symptoms of anxiety as it can effectively help calm your anxious pup down.Benadryl for Dogs

Benadryl for Motion Sickness 

Many pet owners may not know that Benadryl is often recommended for dogs who experience motion sickness.

Treating Mast Cell Tumors with Benadryl 

When a dog has mast cell tumors, there is a mast cell degranulation which causes a massive histamine release. Often, your veterinarian may recommend Benadryl to alleviate symptoms from the histamine release.

Benadryl in Heartworm Treatment 

Finally, if your pup has to undergo heartworm treatment your vet may recommend Benadryl to ease the symptoms associated with heartworm treatment therapy.

When to Call The Vet — Allergic Reactions 

Yes, many veterinarians and pet owners find Benadryl to be an effective antihistamine for mild to moderative allergic reactions. However, if your pup is having an acute allergic reaction with facial swelling or difficulty breathing, it is imperative that you go straight to the vet. Benadryl is not effective in serious cases of allergic reactions and seeking medical intervention in a timely manner is extremely important for your dog's life.

Benadryl Dosage for Dogs 

We want to note that Benadryl is typically administered in the tablet form when prescribed for dogs. If and only if your vet deems it safe, liquid Benadryl can be mixed in with your dog's food. However, dog owners should consult with their vet first.

The Benadryl dose is based on the dog's body weight. We have included a general guide for administering Benadryl but if dog owners want a more accurate dose, experts say that 1mg of Benadryl x 1lb of body weight is the way to calculate the amount of Benadryl that will be safe and effective.

How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Dog 

WEIGHT OF THE DOG                    DOSAGE OF BENADRYL

30lbs or smaller                                  10mg per dose

30 – 50lbs                                            25 mg per dose

50lbs or over                                        50mg per dose

The amount of times you can give the medication to your pet is typically around 2-3 times a day, 8 hours apart.

We don't have to tell you that no two dogs are the same. All dogs respond differently to new medications in their lives. Therefore, it is incredibly important to talk to your veterinarian about the dose that is right for your particular pooch.

Benadryl for Dogs — Is It Safe? 

While Benadryl has been deemed to be safe when used appropriately, there are a few things that dog owners should be aware of.

When to Avoid Benedryl 

For instance, dogs with glaucoma, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease should avoid Benadryl as it can worsen their condition.

Furthermore, dogs with the following conditions should also steer clear of this particular medication:

  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Allergic lung disease
  • Bladder neck obstruction
  • Heart failure
  • Prostatic hypertrophy
  • Pregnancy
  • Seizures

Benadryl Side Effects 

As with all medications, Benadryl comes with quite a few unpleasant side effects.

Common Side Effects of Benadryl 

  • Dry mouthBenadryl for dogs
  • Urinary retention
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sedation
  • Hypersalivation
  • Rapid breathing

Additional (More Uncommon) Benadryl Side Effects 

  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Benadryl Overdose 

Benadryl causes hyperexcitability of the dog’s central nervous system. It is critical to seek proper medical attention if you think that your dog may be experiencing an overdose.

Additional signs of a Benadryl overdose include:Benadryl in dogs overdose

  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Agitation
  • Constipation

Diphenhydramine Side Effects 

Again, we just want to reiterate that because of the fact that Diphenhydramine is the active ingredient of Benadryl, it also comes along with the same risks and potential adverse reactions.

Benadryl Alternatives 

Luckily, there are some extremely effective and safe alternatives to Benadryl for treating allergies, anxiety, motion sickness, and other ailments. In fact, the alternatives we are about to provide come with virtually no side effects. Take a look!

Honest Paws instead of Benadryl for Dogs

Using CBD to Treat Allergies 

These coconut flavored dog treats are extremely effective in treating allergies in your furry companion and the benefits don't stop there.

These treats are also great for:

  • Irritated, Dry, Itchy Skin
  • Cracked Paw Pads
  • Dull Coats
  • Reducing Shedding / Dandruff

CBD For Anxiety 

Additionally, CBD is incredibly effective in treating anxiety (in both humans and dogs). Check out these great products that are consistently proving to be safe alternatives to not only Benadryl, but a slew of anti-anxiety medications.

Peanut Butter Flavored CBD Treat --> Click here! 

Finally, our CBD tinctures! This CBD is a great way to begin introducing CBD into your dog's life. The dropper allows pet owners to have full control over the amount that they are giving Fido which is great for all parties involved. 

Benadryl for Dogs: The Bottom Line

One of the worst feelings that a dog owner can experience is watching their beloved furry companion suffer. On top of that, sifting through the seemingly endless list of medication and drug options can be incredibly frustrating. What is safe? Which option has the least amount of side effects? Is it possible to ease symptoms without the potential for additional problems and adverse reactions? We understand how stressful it can be. While medications like Benadryl may be "safe" for short-term treatment, it is comforting to know that it's not the only solution. We encourage our readers to explore products like CBD. Fido will thank you for it. 

Sources

https://www.certapet.com/benadryl-for-dogs/

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/general-health/benadryl-for-dogs/

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/can-i-give-my-dog-benadryl-and-if-so-how-much

 

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