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Can dogs have Benadryl?

Updated on March 11, 2012

Just like the human family, dogs can have allergies too. These wonderful furry friends can suffer from a wide variety of allergies. Allergens will trigger the overreaction of the immune system. Localized or generalized skin irritations are the most common manifestations of allergies. Severe itching will make the dog’s life miserable. Allergic reaction can affect the respiratory system of the dog so that it would cough, sneeze, wheeze and generally suffer from breathing difficulties. Vomiting and diarrhea are other manifestation of allergies. Dogs are highly valued companions. A dog owner would immediately reach for medications to help a pet being weighed down by allergies. Benadryl is an effective treatment for allergies. This drug though was originally formulated for humans. Would it be safe for dogs to have this medication too?

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Is Benadryl safe for the dog?

Diphenhydramine is popularly known as Benadryl. This antihistamine for humans is fairly safe for dogs as long as it is administered in the right dosage. The recommended dosage is 1 mg per 1 lb body weight. Benadryl is easily available because it is an over the counter medication. As this medication is proven to be an effective treatment for allergies, most homes would have bottles of Benadryl in their medicine chest. However, just as with any other human medications, it would be best to follow the recommendations of the vet.

Uses of Benadryl

Benadryl is commonly used for its antihistaminic properties. Depending on the allergen, allergic reactions can make the pet mildly uncomfortable to seriously ill. Serious conditions would certainly need immediate medical attention. Pet parents that noticed the frantic chewing and scratching of the pet would give the dog a dose of Benadryl to reduce itchiness. Benadryl is given to the pet to treat urticaria (hives) and angioedema. This drug has other uses aside from preventing allergic reactions. Benadryl is a mild sedative and an antiemetic drug. It prevents motion sickness and vomiting thus it is commonly given to dogs that need to travel.

Side effects of Benadryl

Benadryl is reasonably safe for dogs if administered appropriately but the medication has potential side effects. Drowsiness if the most common side effects although this can be a good thing if the dog has to make a long trip by car. Dogs under Benadryl medication may suffer from stomach upsets and have diarrhea and vomiting episodes. The dog may lose appetite as well.

Contraindications of Benadryl

The need to ask for the vet’s recommendation before using any kind of human medication for the pet cannot be stressed enough. Benadryl’s anticholinergic effects can have adverse effects for dogs with pyloroduodenal obstruction, angle closure glaucoma, enlargement of the prostate gland and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Pet owners must be cautious in using Benadryl especially if the pet is under medication for cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and hyperthyroidism or for other health conditions as this antihistamine can obstruct the efficacy of the drug the pet is taking.

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    • Helena Ricketts profile image

      Helena Ricketts 

      6 years ago from Indiana

      I had a dog with a severe allergy to grass of all things. After spending a LOT of money on pet allergy meds, the vet suggested giving him Benadryl and it actually worked better than the prescription meds we were paying four times as much for! You are right thought, it made him extremely sleepy which was a drawback. He only took it in the summer time though and not all the time so it wasn't too bad. Voted up and useful!


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