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Is it safe to give dogs Benadryl?

Updated on April 10, 2012

Pet parents have the tendency to view the cat or the dog as humans. It is not unusual for a dog owner to talk to the pet as if it were a baby. A dog is made to wear fashionable clothes and accessories. A pet owner would customarily share anything that is being eaten with the pet. A pet dog is in fact considered as the baby of the family thus it would not be surprising if the family would panic if an accident happens to the pet or if the pet falls ill. Pet parents are cautioned against giving human medications to the pet but if the pet is ailing, the owner would find anything that would alleviate the discomfort or the pain that weighs down the pet.

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The dog is sick

No matter how caring and careful the dog owner is, sickness and accidents can never be totally prevented. Dogs are very active animals. Dogs are indiscriminate eaters. These animals also have the inclination to roam. Dogs, like humans are susceptible to allergies, skin diseases and infections. A dog may be sensitive to ingredients in the diet. Insect bites and allergens in the environment can affect a hypersensitive pet. These irritants would cause severe itching, rashes, sneezing and runny nose.


Diphenhydramine is the generic name of Benadryl. Benadryl is a mainstay in people’s medicine cabinets as the drug is commonly used to alleviate any cause of itching. This antihistamine is used to relieve rashes, swelling, runny nose and sneezing associated with allergies. Benadryl is a medication for humans. As a rule, medications specifically formulated for humans must not be given to animals. Benadryl was not approved by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to be used on animals. However, Benadryl can be safely given to dogs. Because of the antihistaminic properties, vets really do prescribe this drug to be used for inflammatory and allergic conditions associated with insect and snake bites and for vaccination and blood transfusion reactions.

Dosage for dogs

Because Benadryl is a medication for humans, vet consultation is necessary to get the right dosage for the dog. The drug is given every eight hours. Usual dosage is 1 mg per pound of body weight.

Other pharmacological properties

Benadryl is used in the treatment of urticaria and canine atopy. The drug relieves pruritis (itchiness) and swelling associated with allergic reactions. Benadryl is commonly given to a dog that has to take a long car or plane ride. Acting as sedative, the drug controls motion sickness. Acting as anti-emitic medication, Benadryl prevents vomiting. Dogs about to undergo splenic mast cell tumor removal are given Benadryl as a presurgical therapy to counteract the effects of histamines that will be released by the mast cells. Benadryl is used to control tremors that is attributed to certain medications to the ingestion of toxins

Side effects

As with any other medications specifically formulated for humans, Benadryl can have side effects when used on animals. Drowsiness is one of the side effects of Benadryl. Antihistamines usually cause dry mouth, urine retention and upset stomach. A dog under Benadryl medication may have diarrhea and vomiting episodes.

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    • wetnosedogs profile image


      6 years ago from Alabama

      I have given my one dog a generic type of benadryl. She has allergies. I enjoyed the videos and the second one is interesting about diluting the shampoo. I will definitely have to try that. Thanks for the info.


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