How safe is Benadryl for dogs?
This is a super common question among dog owners.
One of the main reasons why people ask this question is because Benadryl is not made for dogs. It is an antihistamine drug that treats a number of problems in us, humans.
Veterinarians, for a long time, have been giving Benadryl for dogs as a medication to treat conditions like excessive itching, swelling, and even insomnia.
Even though we trust our vets, there are times you’re not too comfortable in giving your dog a drug that is not tailored for your four-legged friend. As a fellow pet lover, I understand that completely.
So, let’s take a look at this Benadryl drug and find out if this is safe for your dog.
What is Benadryl?
Let us warn you that this section will have a lot of medical mumbo jumbo. If you’re not very keen to read all that now, feel free to skip to the next section.
So what is Benadryl?
Benadryl contains diphenhydramine which is an antihistamine. It is mainly used to treat Allergies, Insomnia, Hyperactivity, Swelling, Vomiting and even Anxiety.
Histamine is naturally produced in the body. Its role is to play a part in local immune responses. So, the next time when you feel an itch or a swelling, it is due to the release of this histamine chemical.
The diphenhydramine in Benadryl blocks the H1 receptors, in the synapses in the brain, from reacting with histamine. The same process repeats in the synapses in other parts of the body as well.
As a result, problems like swelling, itching, swelling, and even runny noses are taken care of. This is not without side effects, though. Drowsiness is a common side effect that is seen in almost everyone who has taken the drug.
All the things mentioned above are for humans and not for dogs. The reason it is prescribed, in spite of not being approved by the FDA for use in dogs, is because of its harmless nature.
Let us warn you that this section will have a lot of medical mumbo jumbo. If you’re not very keen to read all that now, feel free to skip to the next section.
Can I Give My Dog Benadryl?
So it is harmless you say. Does that mean I can give my dog Benadryl?
Yes, but there is a lot more to it.
Benadryl that contains diphenhydramine is safe for dogs.
There are some formulations of Benadryl that might contain Cetirizine, Acetaminophen, and Pseudophedrine. These are completely safe for humans but not for dogs. Ingredients like Acetaminophen and Pseudophedrine are even considered as toxins for dogs.
Be sure to purchase Benadryl that has the formulation that is safe for dogs. Check the package and see if the main active component is Diphenhydramine.
But even if a drug is harmless, it is important that you get a word from your vet before you give your dog anything. He or she will make sure that there will be no adverse effects or prescribe something else if your dog can’t have Benadryl.
So can you give a dog Benadryl? Yes, but a little care is to be entertained.
Benadryl Dosage for Dogs
How much Benadryl can I give my dog?
This is the next big question and rightly so. Finding the right Benadryl dose for dogs is crucial.
If the dose is less, then there might not be any effect at all. And if you do a little extra, the after effects might not be that desirable.
Usually, it is recommended to give 1mg of Benadryl for 1lb of body weight every 8 hours. If your dog weighs 15 pounds, then you should give him 15mg of Benadryl 3 times a day.
If you are going to give Benadryl in liquid form, then the dosage should be 0.4ml for 1lb of the body weight. For a reference, a US teaspoon can hold up to 5ml. This also should be given three times a day.
Below is a table that should come in handy.
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If you have a young dog, then use Benadryl for children. It does not contain alcohol and safer than the one for adults.
This dosage might change depending on the dog and its need. This change should only be done by the vet. The dosage might be even doubled if the situation demands it.
The next time someone asks you how much Benadryl to give a dog, show them this ‘Benadryl dosage for dogs’ table as a general guideline, and there shouldn’t be a problem.
Also Read: Prednisone for Dogs
There are some safety precautions that you must follow.
Always confirm with your vet whether it is safe to give Benadryl to your pet dog.
While confirming, tell him if your dog is taking any medications. Also, let him know about any newly developed medical conditions if present. This will give him more information, and he can decide whether Benadryl is safe for your dog or not.
Getting a go-ahead from your vet is critical if your dog is pregnant.
Benadryl Side Effects in Dogs
There are certain side effects that your dog might have due to the consumption of Benadryl for dogs. This can happen within an hour or even 30 minutes after taking Benadryl.
The following are some of the common side effects, and there is nothing to worry about.
- Rapid Breathing
- Faster Heart Rate
- Depression (in some cases)
There are some rare side effects as well. These include vomiting, loss of appetite and also an allergic reaction. If these side effects persist, it is better to take your dog to your vet and have a checkup.
Benefits of Benadryl for Dogs
One of the common uses of Benadryl is to treat allergies. But it can be helpful for a lot more conditions as well.
Benadryl can be pretty good for
- Car sickness
- Bee stings
- Hay fever
- Runny nose
- Irritated skin
- Insect Bites
One of the main advantages of this drug is that it gets absorbed very quickly and can get to work in about 30 minutes.
Alternatives to Benadryl for Dogs
If for some reason, you don’t want to give Benadryl to your dogs, there are options to try.
Apple Cider Vinegar
If the reason for your dog’s discomfort is topical, then apple cider vinegar can really come in handy.
You can use apple cider vinegar to rinse the part of your dog where you feel most allergens are present. For example, if your dog’s paws accumulate pollens, you can clean it with a bit of apple cider vinegar.
It is also powerful when dealing with rashes and inflammation in the skin that are caused by yeast infections.
You can also put some in a spray bottle. This way, you can spray the solution on the places directly without having to get messy.
One thing to note is that you should not use apple cider vinegar on open wounds.
When your dog is having a severe case of itching, a good oat bath can be very comforting.
You can boil the oat straw in water and then mix it in your dog’s bath. After bathing your dog, you can see that itching is reduced. This is because the bath removes most of the allergens responsible for itching.
Do not use oat baths when your dog has a yeast infection. Oat baths can make yeasts thrive which is not something we want.
Baking soda, when used as a topical solution, can be super helpful when it comes to itchy and inflamed skin.
There are two ways you can use baking soda, either as a paste or as a spray.
Making the paste
Take a tablespoon of baking soda and a little water to it. Mix it well till you get a paste-like consistency.
You can then apply the paste on the itchy area. Baking soda is effective, but it is not as fast as other methods. So you’ll have to wait for an hour or so to get results.
Making the spray
Take a tablespoon of baking soda and mix it with eight ounces of water.
Put this solution in a spray bottle and spray it on the itchy or inflamed area.
Be sure to shake the solution every time before you use it.
Coconut oil is an excellent remedy when it comes to allergies.
It comes with Lauric acid which can effectively decrease yeast production. If your dog has a yeast infection, then using coconut oil can be convenient.
Coconut oil is also great for treating inflammation. You can mix coconut oil with fish oil in your dog’s diet. This can help treat inflammation from within.
Coconut oil is also very helpful in digestion and also boosts the immune system as well. When included in your dog’s diet, its antiviral and antibacterial property can help in reducing itchy skins.
Quercetin is called nature’s Benadryl as it can achieve what the drug does without any side effects.
It is a flavonoid that comes with an antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Flavonoids are nothing but phytonutrients that are found in fruits and vegetables.
You can find them in apple, broccoli, and green tea. You can either go the natural route, or you can treat your dog itches and allergies by giving quercetin supplements as well.
Colostrum is found in mammalian mother’s milk. It is excellent for building a robust immune system and protecting the young one against any diseases.
Bovine colostrum is also found to be useful for allergies as well. With many other added benefits, bovine colostrum is one of the simple remedies you can find for your dog’s allergies and itchiness.
Colostrum comes with Praline-rich Polypeptide (PRP) which plays a prominent role in either eliminating or reducing allergy symptoms. This is done by controlling the immune system.
PRP is useful in inhibiting T-cell and lymphocyte production during allergic reactions. In addition to this, it can also create suppressor T-cells that can help in reducing the immune response which causes the allergies.
There are a lot of antibodies against allergens in colostrum. This is because of cows that develop these antibodies against allergens over time. When you get colostrum from a cow. Your dog also gets all the allergen antibodies as well.
Aloe Vera is another excellent natural remedy for skin itchiness, burns, and even hot spots.
When you’re using aloe vera, be sure to use only the gel and not the skin. The skin contains a laxative which is not good for your dog.
If you don’t grow aloe vera, it is okay to get some from shops. They all work the same, more or less.
Aloe vera comes with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fungal properties that are perfect for treating itches.
You can take the gel and apply it on the spot of discomfort. Usually, you can see the results immediately. It is recommended that you do this twice a day till your dog is free from itches.
Papain is a proteolytic enzyme that is found in papaya.
It can help in increasing the absorption of quercetin, so you’ll mostly find both of them sold together.
Papain works well in the case of inflammation and itching. You can use this with quercetin for best results.
Tips for Giving Benadryl to Dogs
Some dogs can be reluctant when it comes to taking medications. If your dog is like that, then follow these tips to feed your dog Benadryl easily.
Always Give Benadryl Tablets with Food
Some dogs don’t like the idea of medicine. If your dog is like that, then you can hide your Benadryl tablets inside food and feed them to your dog. Your dog will take it in without suspecting a thing.
Break big tablets into small pieces
If your dog is choking on bigger tablets, then break them into smaller pieces. You can keep the smaller pieces in dog food or meat, and feed them to your dogs.
Giving Liquid Benadryl
If you plan to give your dog liquid Benadryl, then mix it with a gravy your dog loves. The dog will not taste the drug, and will happily devour all the gravy without any complaints.
Testing with a Smaller dose
This step is crucial if you’re having doubts about giving Benadryl to your dog. You can initially feed your dog a small dosage, and wait for any reactions to show up.
If there are no adverse effects, then you can proceed to give the full dosage as per your vet’s recommendation.
Benadryl Overdose in Dogs
Usually, we are cautious about what we give to our pets, but accidents do happen.
In case of an accidental overdose, look for symptoms like muscle tremors, aggression, rapid heartbeat, high body temperature, extreme fatigue and even breathing difficulties. If you observe these symptoms, immediately rush to your vet and take care of your dog.
There are cases of survival even from an extreme overdose. So, if you take the right actions at the right time, you can save your dog no matter what.
Benadryl is harmless in most scenarios, but an overdose is something you shouldn’t let go that easily. Be sure to act quickly in the event of an overdose to avoid any fatal outcomes.
Benadryl Poisoning in Dogs
Benadryl with just diphenhydramine is fine for dogs. This formulation is made for humans only, but it is ok for dogs as well.
There are some formulations of Benadryl that comes with ingredients like phenylephrine which is not good for dogs. You can find the ingredients on the label, but if you mistakenly give this formulation to your dog, then your dog can have Benadryl poisoning.
Benadryl poisoning can also happen if the dog has consumed an overdose of the drug by accident.
Symptoms of Benadryl Poisoning
When there is a case of Benadryl poisoning, you can see these symptoms within an hour of administering the drug.
- Extreme drowsiness
- Abnormal heart rate
- Breathing difficulty
- Muscle tremors
- Increased blood pressure
- Erratic behavior
- Red eyes
If you see these symptoms, then you can confirm that your dog has Benadryl poisoning.
Treatment of Benadryl Poisoning in Dogs
In the case of Benadryl poisoning, your vet will give you instructions on how to properly make your dog throw up.
If you can reach the vet’s office soon, we suggest you go there.
The treatment usually involves activated charcoal which can absorb the toxins in your dog’s stomach. In some cases, your dog’s stomach must be emptied. For that purpose, gastric lavage may be employed.
It is usual practice to give IV fluids to your dog to prevent dehydration and to balance the electrolytes in your dog’s body.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Benadryl Safe for Dogs?
Benadryl is safe for your dog provided the formulation only has diphenhydramine as the main ingredient.
If the main ingredient is phenylephrine or any other compound, be sure to avoid that Benadryl.
Can Benadryl Make Dogs Sleepy?
One of the common side effects of Benadryl in dogs is drowsiness.
So yes, Benadryl can make your dog a little sleepy.
But if your dog is lethargic after hours of administering the drug, that is serious. Contact your vet if your dog behaves this way for a prolonged period.
How Much Benadryl for a Dog to Go to Sleep?
As you can see in the dosage chart, for every 1 lb of your dog’s weight, you can give 1mg of Benadryl.
If you have a 15 lb dog, then you can give 15mg of Benadryl.
However, if you’re mainly giving Benadryl to your dog for sleeping, we recommend reducing the dosage by half to be safe.
Can Benadryl Give Dogs Diarrhea?
In rare cases, your dog might get diarrhea as a side effect of consuming Benadryl.
This is only rare, and not all dogs exhibit this symptom.
Can You Crush Benadryl for before giving it to your Dog?
You can crush Benadryl tablets if they are too big for your dog.
We suggest breaking them into smaller pieces so that you can hide them in dog food or in meat.
If you have doubts about whether crushing will reduce the potency of the medicine, go for liquid Benadryl. You can mix the right amount in your dog’s gravy without losing any power.
Can Benadryl Kill Dogs?
No, Benadryl can’t kill dogs.
People have been using Benadryl for dogs for a long time without any fatal outcomes.
Yes, Benadryl poisoning is possible. But if you can see things at the right time, you can easily save your dog from it.
Also, if you use only the diphenhydramine formulation of Benadryl, you don’t have to worry about poisoning as well.
What Benadryl to Buy for Dogs?
Benadryl is available in both tablet and liquid form.
If your dog doesn’t mind tablets, you can go with the tablets. If he or she is a hard one to deal with, you can just opt for liquid Benadryl which is a lot easier to administer.
When to Use Benadryl for Dogs?
Benadryl treats a number of conditions in dogs.
You can use Benadryl when your dog has the following problems.
- Treating allergies
- Relieving your dog from anxiety
- Making your dog sleep
- Treating your dog’s itchy skin
- Easing your dog from car sickness
- Treating bee sting and other insect bites
- Treating asthma
Can Benadryl Calm My Dog?
If you have a dog that is very active and hyper, giving some Benadryl can surely help.
Please refer to the dosage guide above for more details.
Have you given your dog Benadryl?
Was it effective?
Share your story with us in the comment section below. Also, share this with your friends if they have the same doubt regarding Benadryl and its dosage for dogs.
Disclaimer: The tablets in the picture are not Benadryl. They are only for illustrative purposes