Benadryl is a common antihistamine found in most household medicine cabinets. In people, we use it to treat allergies and help with sleep. So can we use Benadryl for dogs too? Keep reading to find out about this commonly used over the counter medication.
But First, What is Benadryl Exactly?
Benadryl is the brand name for the active ingredient in the drug, Diphenhydramine, which is a drug approved by the FDA to block histamines in the body. Histamine is what is released in the body when you are having an allergic reaction. This is the substance that causes you to become itchy, have watery eyes, hives, and have sneezing fits.
People use Benadryl for a wide of reasons such as motion sickness, allergic reactions, hives, runny noses, environmental allergies, food allergies, and seasonal allergies.
It can also be helpful for stopping the receptors in your brain that make a person feel nauseous and can help with vomiting. It is an over-the-counter drug that you can find at any drugstore.
Benadryl For Dogs
The answer to this question is yes, you may give your dog Benadryl. Diphenhydramine is a common drug used in animal hospitals to treat allergic reactions and even prevent them from happening in the first place.
For example, if a dog is known to have vaccine reactions, diphenhydramine can be administered as an injection prior to the appointment. The owner of the dog can also premedicate with Benadryl at home before their appointment time. If a dog has facial swelling from eating a bee, Benadryl can be used to treat the allergic reaction to the bee.
In veterinary use, the injection form of Benadryl is also administered prior to surgeries that a requiring a Mast Cell Tumor removal. If the whole tumor is not removed, there is a possibility that histamines can be released into the body. So, an injection of Benadryl is administered to keep these histamines at rest, preventing an allergic reaction to the patient and helping the patient have a smooth recovery.
Benadryl for dogs is also helpful for seasonal allergies and environmental allergies.
If a dog breaks out in hives from an insect bite or allergic reaction, it can be given as these are all symptoms of allergies. Benadryl is a drug everyone should have in their first-aid kit. It takes away that itchiness of hives and can give your dog relief.
Benadryl can also be helpful for anxious dogs that have a hard time with car rides. It can help sedate them and help a bit with nausea. However, it isn’t the best anti-anxiety medication for a dog. If you have an anxious dog, speak with your veterinarian about a better drug choice for anxiety. Most DVMs will want to prescribe an actual anti-anxiety drug for this such as Trazodone.
Benadryl Dosage for Dogs
The typical dose of Benadryl for dogs is 1mg per pound of body weight. For example, a 25-pound dog would require a dose of 25mg of Benadryl. Luckily, this is what most Benadryl tablets come in as far as dosage. This milligram is fairly consistent with most children’s Benadryl. If a small dog, smaller than 25lbs, is requiring a dose of Benadryl to help with itchiness, the tablet may need to be cut in half. Liquid Benadryl can come in handy more with smaller dogs. Finding the dosage needed will require some math, but a small dog can still be given that dose of 1mg per pound every 4 to 6 hours. Here’s an example for you.
If a small dog weighs 10 lbs and is having some sort of small dog allergies like itchy eyes and hives, the dose needed for the dog is 10mg because the dosage is 1mg per pound of body weight. Children’s liquid Benadryl comes in 12.5mg/5mL or 2.5mg/mL (to find this, divide the 12.5 by 5, which comes to 2.5). To find the dosage the small dog requires, you would divide the milligram needed (10mg) by the concentration of the liquid Benadryl. Thus, the small dog would require 4mL of Children’s Liquid Benadryl.
Prior to administering your dog Benadryl, always call your veterinarian first to ensure you are administering the proper dosing to avoid a Benadryl overdose.
Topical Benadryl can also be used for dogs that are having a contact allergic reaction to a plant or even a bug bite in their groin area.
Side Effects of Benadryl
Prior to administering your dog any kind of medications, always seek advice from your veterinarian to ensure that your dog does not have any underlying pre-existing conditions that could cause adverse effects to your dog if given Benadryl.
Side effects of Benadryl in dogs are similar to those in humans. Benadryl affects the nervous system and common side effects include dry mouth, drowsiness and even sedation, which in turn can lower heart rate.
Other potential side effects can include constipation and stomach upset and even mood changes. Adverse effects with dogs that have had an accidental Benadryl overdose can exhibit difficulty breathing. Urinary retention can also be an adverse side effect. If this is the case, seek veterinary attention right away. Difficulty breathing and urinary retention can lead to potentially life-threatening conditions.
Prior to administering your dog Benadryl, it is always a smart plan to contact your veterinarian first. Tell them the symptoms your dog is exhibiting, whether it be environmental allergies, a bug bite or motion sickness. They will be able to tell you if your dog can have the drug or not.
Dogs that are pregnant, have glaucoma, cardiac problems such as high blood pressure, may not be able to have Benadryl. If your dog is heartworm positive, your veterinarian needs to know this prior to administering Benadryl or any other drug for that matter.
Benadryl is a fairly safe drug that can be used for a wide range of symptoms, mostly allergy-related.
This is a great medication to have in the medicine cabinet for you and our dog and it is easy to purchase due to being an over-the-counter drug.
However, if you are using Benadryl to treat your dog’s motion sickness or anxiety, speak with your veterinarian because there are much better medications to help with these problems. But always keep it on hand in case your dog gets curious and decides to eat something that will result in embarrassing facial swelling such as eating a bumblebee! Just don’t forget to keep your veterinarian in the loop!