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Can You Give a Dog Benadryl?

Golden haired dog sitting by a tree on a sunny day

If you suffer from hay fever or other seasonal allergies, then you’ll be all too familiar with Benadryl. The over-the-counter medication is used to treat mild-to-moderate symptoms caused by common allergies. Symptoms include itching, sneezing, running nose and eyes and inflammation.  Humans aren’t the only species to struggle with these pesky effects. Dogs are also prone to allergies, particularly during the spring and summer months as the pollen count increases. While Benadryl is most commonly used to treat allergies, you may have also taken it for motion sickness or even anxiety. Keep reading to discover whether you can give a dog Benadryl and things to consider before treating your dog. 


What is Benadryl?

Red beagle laying on a mossy log with flowers around looking intrigued at the camera

Benadryl is an over-the-counter medication used to treat mild-to-moderate common allergy symptoms. Benadryl is the brand name for the anti-histamine with the active ingredient diphenhydramine HCL. As a first-generation-ethanolamine-derivative antihistamine, diphenhydramine can cross the blood-brain barrier, unlike second-generation antihistamines. This makes Benadryl a very effective treatment for allergy symptoms, however, it may also have a higher risk of negative effects.


Can you give a dog Benadryl?

Silver Great Dane puppy with a chain collar

Although Benadryl is not currently approved by the FDA for veterinary use, pet owners often use it to treat allergy symptoms. It is safe to give your dog Benadryl if they do not suffer from any pre-existing serious health conditions. Be aware that Benadryl may interact with any other medication your dog is currently taking. Consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about whether it is safe to administer Benadryl to your dog.


What is Benadryl used for?

Benadryl is used to treat a wide array of symptoms commonly associated with mild-to-moderate allergies. These include, but are not limited to:

  •    Runny eyes and nose
  •    Congestion
  •    Inflammation
  •    Itching
  •    Sneezing
  •    Coughing

You can use Benadryl to treat anxiety in dogs, as it can cause drowsiness. You can also treat your dog's motion sickness with Benadryl. This is a common condition for dogs not used to traveling in the car.


What are the side effects of Benadryl?

Black dog looking up at their owner with puppy eyes

One of the main side effects of Benadryl is drowsiness, so don’t panic if you notice your dog sleeping more after than usual. They may also experience a dry mouth or even the opposite, hypersalivation. An increased heart rate and rapid breathing are uncommon side effects. We recommend keeping a watchful eye on your pet after administering Benadryl. 

If you are concerned about their behavior or adverse reaction, then contact your veterinarian immediately.


How do you give your dog Benadryl?

weimaraner puppy with blue eyes looking at the camera

Depending on the size and breed of your dog, there are several ways to give your dog Benadryl. We recommend consulting your vet to make sure you choose to correct form and dosage of Benadryl for your dog.

If you are using Benadryl to treat allergy symptoms, the recommended dosage of Benadryl for a dog is 2-4mg per kilogram of body weight.  Dogs process medications in a different way to humans.  Administer Benadryl between two and three times a day, depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Be aware that the dosage for liquid Benadryl is different from that of pills. You should also avoid any liquid Benadryl with alcohol content, as well as a slow-release version of the medication.

If you are using Benadryl to treat anxiety or motion sickness, remember it will take 30-minutes to start working, so keep this in mind.

To find the exact dosage and best means of administering Benadryl for your dog, contact your vet and they will support you in the treatment process.


Are there any alternatives to Benadryl?

Boston Terrier Looking out the car window on a country road

Depending on the condition you are looking to treat, there are several alternatives to Benadryl for dogs. Although when it comes to allergy symptoms, antihistamines like Benadryl are the best course of action.


Alternatives to Benadryl for allergies in dogs

There has been some success with using CBD oil to treat skin irritation and soreness. CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical ingredient derived from cannabis. CBD when derived from the hemp plant does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).  Therefore, it does not present the psychological effects commonly associated with the drug.

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The best way to administer CBD to your dog is through CBD doggy treats but you can also add drops of the oil to their food. When introducing CBD into your dog’s diet, start small and slowly increase the dosage. You will need to monitor their symptoms and behavior closely. Consult your vet if you have any concerns following treatment with CBD.

Omega 3 supplements are another effective treatment for dog allergies. These fatty acids can relief common allergy symptoms in dogs, particularly itching and dry skin. Health food stores stock a wide variety of Omega 3 supplements including fish oil, krill oil, and green-lipped mussel. Any of the supplements will work well as part of your dog’s daily diet, even when they aren’t suffering from allergies. Omega 3 has also improved organ function in dogs and, therefore, should always be a part of your dog’s daily routine.

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Alternatives to Benadryl for anxiety in dogs

You can also use CBD oil to treat mild anxiety in dogs, as it produces a calming effect. This is ideal if your dog suffers from separation anxiety or agitation due to a change in circumstances. For dogs who suffer from severe anxiety, please consult your vet as they may be able to prescribe medication to help manage your dog’s symptoms.


Alternatives to Benadryl for motion sickness in dogs 

It is not uncommon for dogs to suffer motion sickness when traveling in the car. This is particularly common with puppies or if your dog is not used to car journeys. Benadryl is a popular treatment for motion sickness is dogs, but you can also opt for a more natural supplement.


Benadryl is a fantastic cost-effective way to rid your pet of any recurring allergy symptoms. Your dog can’t tell you when they are suffering so always be aware of any changes in their behavior. When brushing your pet, keep an eye on their fur and watch if they are licking the same spot as this may also be a sign of skin irritation. Excess sneezing and runny eyes are both common when it comes to dogs with allergies and Benadryl can help your pooch through the summer months. Whether you’re treating your dog for allergies, motion sickness or anxiety, you should also consult your vet before introducing Benadryl to their treatment plan.

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Can you give a dog benadryl


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