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Zyrtec for dogs: When they have a ‘ruff’ time with dog allergies

Zyrtec For Dogs Allergies, German Shepherd running through tall grass

Seasons come and go; it’s the winter ice, the blazing sun of the summer, the chilly winds of autumn colors and the allergies in spring! Dogs, like humans too, have allergies and just because they are animals does not make them immune. They, too, develop itchy skin and running noses. Sometimes it simply boils down to what you are feeding your dog. And when a dog has an allergy, many dog owners turn to the common allergy medication, Zyrtec.

But before looking at Zyrtec, it’s important for dog and cat owners alike, to find out why pets get these allergies and what we can do to prevent it. When it comes to itchy skin, for instance, some of our pets really suffer – they open up old wounds and scratches which cause bleeding, which can lead to infections as well.

Food is the number one culprit behind all allergies in dogs, something that owners often overlook

Black and white dog in a grass field with evergreen trees

Did you know how important a role diet plays in managing skin conditions and diseases in dogs? Did you know you get dog food allergies but you also get dog food intolerances? Let the vet explain it to you. And our canine friends can suffer from one or both of these. Food allergies can cause digestive problems in dogs, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Harsh skin problems occur too, and even behavioral problems.  If your puppy or grown dog is having an adverse reaction to particular foods, and you are wondering about it, you should take him or her to the vet immediately. There are other reasons why a dog gets allergies, apart from food.

What are the symptoms that your dog has allergies? (Some can be mild, some can be serious)

Australian shepherd laying in grass with a ball and a red collar
  • Sneezing
  • Ear infections and scratching of ears  
  • Chronic diarrhea  Ear infections
  • Restlessness  
  • Itching  
  • Itchy paws  
  • Skin rashes, with scaly and/or oily skin; pigmentation, or leathery skin  
  • Eye discharge as well as red eyes  
  • Hair loss  
  • Secondary yeast or bacterial infections of the skin or ears  
  • Nasal discharge and breathing problems  
  • Seizures, particularly in predisposed dogs  
  • Secondary urinary tract infections from an overgrowth of skin bacteria  
  • Weight loss, accompanied by diarrhea and/or vomiting  
  • Frequent scratching of the dog on the furniture, or your legs, etc.  
  • Restlessness  
  • Biting at paws, tail, and rear end  
  • Withdrawal or reduced interest in playtime  
  • Anorexia – refusing food or showing disinterest

So how does Zyrtec fit in and what is it?  

Boxer jumping over some dead shrubbery with a red collar on
  • Well, your vet would tell you that Zyrtec is an allergy medication; combatting typical allergy symptoms in dogs. These would be like what humans experience too, such as watery, itchy eyes, sneezing, running noses, hives, and terrible itching.  
  • How Zyrtec works is that it blocks histamine which is the substance that the body produces when there are allergic reactions. Most dogs will handle this medication without too much of an issue. Fortunately, it doesn’t cause a lot of drowsiness that comes with other over-the-counter antihistamines.  
  • Have you noticed your dog scratching relentlessly during the day? Humans are often irritated by this, thinking, “My dog has fleas again!” It could be that, yes, but if the fleas aren’t the source of the scratching, your dog is highly likely suffering from an allergy issue.  
  • Zyrtec contains an active ingredient called cetirizine in it. This also treats dermatitis in dogs, where dog’s skin itches so much. For some owners of dogs, there is nothing more devastating than to watch a little puppy or bigger dog’s skin itch from an allergy condition. It sure is a huge relief to know that Zyrtec can alleviate the pain.   
  • The other great relief is that Zytrec is an all-natural remedy. Yay! And this is important because many traditional over-the-counter medications come with side effects that cause even more complications. Some can have long term effects. Zyrtec isn’t like this. However, in saying that, it needs to be noted that even though cetirizine is tolerated by dogs, and quite well too if your dog has liver or kidney problems, you need to discuss this problem with your vet.  
  • Please also take note that you must buy Zyrtec for your dog, NOT Zyrtec-D. Check the box, because there are huge differences between the two. Zyrtec-D is not for dogs as it contains pseudoephedrine which is toxic for a dog or cat and can cause irreparable damage to your pets.

Zyrtec dosage for dogs

White lab with cherry blossom trees all around

It is important to know what dosage to give your dog. Remember, dogs come in all sizes, down from the huge St. Bernard or Great Dane to your tiny Yorkie terrier or Chihuahua. Different sizes, different doses! Speak to your vet, of course, because some vets will treat dermatitis with only a dose of 5-10 mg for a dog for the entire day.

What are the side effects of taking this medication?  

White Lab with muddy legs and a stick in its mouth standing in a forest in the fall
  • Vomiting  
  • Salivation (can be quite a lot)  
  • Might show signs of being sedated  
  • Constipation

It is also important to note that your dog should not be taking Zyrtec alongside other types of medication that could depress his central nervous system, as this will result in possibly heavier sedation than that mentioned above.

Some breeders and owners of dogs have the view that when you deviate from a dog’s typical ancestral diet, particularly when it comes to certain breeds, you might be predisposing the dog to allergies. Like the magnificent Husky for instance which is accustomed to fish in his diet. Now you want to feed him poultry – will that lead to an allergic reaction? In short, no, because most dogs seem to adapt pretty well to a range of foods, so says Dr. Justin Shmalberg, veterinary nutritionist.

Don’t forget, you can go totally holistic  

Black dog with a red collar running through tall grass with flowers around
  • A holistic veterinarian can provide you with information and specific holistic formulations to assist with the above.  
  • Natural preparations that prevent infestations are available too. There are soothing medications like coconut oil, CBD oil, chamomile, lavender, and mullein preparations for your dog’s irritated skin. These will leave him smelling like he has just emerged from a meadow of sweet grass and flowers!   
  • You will find Aloe Vera, calendula, thyme, chickweed gels to soothe inflamed skin – and natural supplements like apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, Epsom salts, and cucumber slices to offer cooling relief!  
  • You can also adjust your best friend’s diet so that his immune system is supported – this will be as recommended by your holistic vet, of course. The vet can offer you supplements which will help your dog with his gastrointestinal function – such as dandelion root, turmeric, probiotics, and many herbal preparations which you can add to his diet. Fantastic immune system supplements are ginseng, omega-3 fatty acids, and Echinacea, plus vitamins which you will find of grrrrrrrrrrrr-eat use! Bet you didn’t even know that raw local honey can be so useful in supporting the immune system, acting as a natural “allergy vaccine” for your dog.
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We can go on and on about the effectiveness of holistic treatments for allergies in dogs, which will depend heavily on decisions you take, your willingness, dedication, and patience to achieve a solution for your loyal friend, to reach a happy solution. We’ll say woof to that!

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Zyrtec For Dogs By Molly Boman

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