Can I Give My Dog Benadryl?

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For dog owners, pets are like another member of the family. And like a family’s human members, dogs also face similar illnesses and allergies. It may be strange to think of dogs being allergic to certain things, but it’s true. They can have serious allergic reactions, which can cause a host of symptoms.

In some cases, allergies can cause itchy skin, inflammation, swelling, vomiting, and other painful side effects. The problem is that dogs can’t communicate these to us, which means we must be hyper-aware of what our pets eat, where they go, and what kind of environment they interact in. Everything has the possibility to cause an allergic reaction, so be on the lookout when caring for your pet.

Veterinarians may typically prescribe Benadryl, an over-the-counter antihistamine, for dogs to assist with and/or prevent allergic reactions. Different dog breeds may react differently to drugs, so make sure you’ve spoken with your veterinarian before administering any type of medication. Although this over-the-counter antihistamine may seem harmless to ease your pet’s symptoms, it’s best to get the go ahead from your veterinarian first. That way you can be mindful of side effects for your dog’s specific condition.

How Does Benadryl Benefit My Pet?

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Benadryl is an antihistamine that blocks receptors that receive histamines in the body. This means that it helps relieve symptoms associated with allergies your dog may suffer from, such as

  • hives
  • itching
  • sneezing
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • wheezing or shortness of breath (from nasal congestion)
  • watery, red eyes
  • skin hives or rashes

If you notice your dog is scratching more often than usual or if there are visible hives or redness on his body, he may be having an allergic reaction. Benadryl can help keep symptoms under control or eliminate them altogether.

In some cases, Benadryl for dogs isn’t prescribed for allergies but rather for mild motion sickness. Does your dog get anxious when getting ready to fly or when sitting in the car for a long period of time? He may feel antsy or cramped, but he also may be suffering from motion sickness. When you are using Benadryl to prevent or treat motion sickness, keep in mind the release time of the drug.

For example, if you know traveling causes your dog to be extra agitated, then plan ahead so the medicine has enough time to start working before your trip begins. If your dog is unresponsive to the medication as prescribed, get the all clear from the veterinarian before increasing the dose. Benadryl can have serious side effects in your pet and it is possible for your dog to overdose if not careful.

As anyone who has suffered motion sickness and nausea can attest, once you have it, there’s little you can do in the moment to help alleviate it. Every small move seems huge and trying to combat it after it’s already happened is difficult. Ask your veterinarian what dosage of Benadryl would be beneficial for your pet when traveling. If it means your pet will enjoy the trip more without becoming ill, then pack a travel size container of it to take with you.

How Long Does Benadryl Take to Start Working?

The amount and frequency your dog needs to take Benadryl will depend on his specific allergies, symptoms, size, and possibly even breed. Since medication is absorbed into the body at different speeds, it may take a shorter or longer amount of time than the average, which is 30 minutes, according to your pet’s condition. Because of the absorption rate differentiation, avoid using time release capsules.

Potential Side Effects of Benadryl for Dogs

As with any medications, Benadryl comes with its own list of side effects. Its formula is supposed to create less adverse risks than many other medicines but it’s still wise to keep a close eye on your dog for any troubling signs. Common side effects include rapid breathing, hypersalivation, sedation, and/or dry mouth. In rare instances, your dog may experience diarrhea, vomiting, or change in appetite. Either he won’t want to eat at his regular feeding times or will want to eat more than normal.

Additionally, if your dog suffers from pre-existing conditions, make sure you disclose this to the veterinarian ahead of time. These conditions include hypertension, canine heart disease, or pregnancy. When your dog already has serious health issues to deal with, the addition of any medicine can increase the likelihood of complications. Furthermore, if your dog is already taking medication, certain combinations can turn into unpleasant, and sometimes serious, negative results.

Although the veterinarian should have your pet’s history on file, don’t be afraid to ask questions about how Benadryl or any other medications might affect your dog’s health. It’s also best to have a full record or copy of your pet’s medical condition and ensure that it’s updated on a regular basis. Have it easily accessible for those who care for your pet. It should include what conditions your pet suffers from, what medications he takes, allergies, and any previous surgeries or hospital visits.

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As mentioned above, there is a chance of Benadryl overdose that is possible. If this happens, it can be fatal for your pet. Seek immediate emergency attention. Signs of overdose include seizures in dogs, constipation, and agitation. Look for any changes in your dog after administering the medication to ensure that he is reacting well to the medicine. If you see any difference in your pet’s behavior, always seek veterinary attention.

Once Benadryl has been approved for your dog, it’s a good idea to keep it available as part of a travel kit for them. Take it with you wherever you go and use as prescribed when needed. Generally speaking, it is common for Benadryl to be prescribed; you want to get a veterinarian’s sign off for your pet.

Common Canine Allergies

Benadryl may be prescribed for a few reasons but allergies are normally at the top of the list. Dog allergies usually involve a combination of things rather than a solitary allergy. Dogs can be allergic to different foods or ingredients, plants, medications, and even a change in seasons.

The most common canine allergies are allergic reactions to foods like wheat, chicken, lamb, dairy, fish, and soy – all of which are typical ingredients in pet food and snacks. It’s important to read labels for what you are giving your pet to eat. Even popular brands may not sit well with your dog’s stomach, especially if he has predisposed conditions or has a hard time digesting food.

If you’re trying to gauge where a food allergy stems from, try an elimination diet for your pet. This can be a chance for the veterinarian to pinpoint the specific food or foods that is causing the allergic reaction. An all-natural diet is often recommended, but whatever you decide to feed your pet, check that it is well-balanced of nutrients. Talk with your veterinary specialist before starting any new food routine or diet.

Environmental allergies are also quite common among dogs. The increase in pollen or dust can cause your pet to have more severe allergies than during times when these pollen or dust counts aren’t as high. Pay attention to the signs symptomatic of allergies. It may require veterinary testing in order to officially determine a cause.  

Outdoor conditions can be tough to regulate, so start with what you can control within the home environment first. Dogs can be allergic to smoke, mold, and dust, and can wreak havoc on their health in the same way it can on yours. Eliminate these elements as much as possible in the house and provide proper circulation.

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When outdoors, your pet can get into virtually anything so it can be tough to tell what an allergic reaction is caused by. Water sources can have contaminants that can affect your pet’s allergic reactions. If your dog is bitten by insects or other animals, this can also be a source of intense reactions as well. While you can’t protect your furry friend from everything he might encounter, if he is more prone to allergies, ma