Can I Give My Dog Benadryl?

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Our pets are a source of joy—always cheering us up, making us laugh, and sharing wet kisses—so it’s only natural that the first thing any good dog owner wants to do is come to their rescue during times of distress. While most ailments and issues require veterinary intervention, there are some ways to help your four-legged friend feel more comfortable in particular cases.

Benadryl (also known by its generic name, diphenhydramine) is one such way to ease certain ailments your pet may be experiencing. But before you rush to the medicine cabinet or down to your local drugstore, it’s important to know how this over-the-counter drug will affect your dog, as well as which afflictions it’s recommended for treating.

Benadryl is an antihistamine that helps to block the naturally occurring histamines created by the body when it overreacts. Histamines are produced by the immune system and work to get rid of things (like allergens) that are bothering you or, in this case, your dog. They’re responsible for runny noses, watery eyes, and rashy skin, and are the natural process the body uses to filter out those allergens. This is where Benadryl comes into play, because it helps to reduce those icky symptoms.

1) What Does Benadryl Treat?

When used properly, Benadryl can bring relief to you and your unhappy pup. In addition to relieving allergies, this pill can treat several pesky problems.

  • It’s recommended for canines who experience motion sickness on trips, so consider offering your dog a dose to help their uneasiness during travel.
  • It’s also useful for anxiety. Benadryl is a sedative that may have a calming effect on dogs who experience distress during travel, thunderstorms, and the like.
  • If your pooch has a run-in with an insect, you can use the antihistamine to reduce symptoms brought about by bee stings or bites.
  • Treat seasonal allergy symptoms in your furry friend by administering a dose if you notice telltale signs like itching, runny nose and eyes, coughing, or sneezing.

2) When Should I Avoid Using Benadryl?

Although sold over-the-counter and relatively benign, Benadryl is not to be used without caution.

  • Always contact your vet before administering Benadryl to your dog, especially if it’s your first time or if your dog has not seen a vet recently.
  • Benadryl is actually contraindicated with certain conditions like glaucoma, heart problems, high blood pressure, pregnancy, seizure disorders, COPD, and more.

3) What Are the Side Effects?

While certain side effects like drowsiness may prove beneficial to your pooch, not all of the side effects brought about by Benadryl are desirable. If you give your dog a dose, always be on the lookout for negative reactions.

  • Most side effects are said to happen within the first hour of exposure. It’s therefore advisable to watch your dog carefully after administration.
  • The most common side effects associated with taking Benadryl are sedation, dry mouth, difficulty urinating, hypersalivation, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing.
  • Rarer side effects resulting from Benadryl include diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and increased appetite.

4) How Much Benadryl Does My Dog Need?

Dosing for your dog in tablet form is pretty straightforward, but if you go the liquid route, you may need to do a bit of math. Always double check the dose and contact your vet if you’re unsure.

  • If administering Benadryl in tablet form, it is recommended to give fluffy 1mg per pound of body weight every 8 to 12 hours.
  • If administering Benadryl in its liquid form, be sure to only use children’s Benadryl that does not contain alcohol or xylitol.
  • For the children’s liquid version that contains 12.5 mg of diphenhydramine for every 5 mL of liquid, give fido 0.4mL per pound of body weight. If the formulation contains 6.5 mg per 5 mL of liquid, double the dose.
  • Do not exceed three doses in a 24-hour period.

5) How Should I Administer Benadryl?

While many discerning dogs will turn their noses up to the liquid version, it’s possible to get your pet to take the antihistamine in pill form—with the right incentive.

  • Cover the tablet in peanut butter, tuck it into a pill pocket, wrap it in cheese, or disguise it in a piece of deli meat to help your pet swallow the medicine without issue.

6) When Should I Contact My Veterinarian?

If you have never used Benadryl before or your dog has not seen a vet in some time, it’s always a good idea to contact your vet before giving Benadryl. There may be other underlying causes for your pet’s medical symptoms that will only be revealed through a thorough check-up.

  • Your companion’s allergic reaction may warrant veterinary intervention if it’s considered acute with facial swelling or difficulty breathing.
  • If you suspect a Benadryl overdose, contact your vet immediately. Symptoms include rapid heartbeat, dilated pupils, agitation, constipation, and seizures.



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