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, make sure to follow a clear path whenever possible.

Flea allergies or sensitivity are a regular occurrence in canines. Surprisingly, it’s not the actual flea that causes the issues, but rather, its saliva. To combat contact with fleas, bathe your dog regularly, especially if he spends most of his time outdoors. There are also certain flea-specific products that can help keep fleas away; plus, clean dogs don’t provide as good of breeding ground for fleas to live. If the problem is consistent or becomes worse, your veterinarian can most likely prescribe a medication to help. In this case, ask about the use of Benadryl in addition to the prescription.

Once you find out what your dog is allergic to, it’s up to you to provide the proper care under the guidance of a trained veterinary professional or veterinarian.

Updating Your Pet’s Health and Medication Records

If you’re introducing a new food or medication into your dog’s daily routine, make sure to monitor his reaction, especially within the first few days. The way your dog absorbs the medication may differ from how other dogs may receive it. If, for example, you know Benadryl has worked for another dog, you can’t automatically assume it will be the same case for yours. It’s better to be cautious to ensure your dog does not suffer further harm or adverse reactions.

Your dog’s allergy information is important to have on hand to provide the veterinarian for future reference. It’s also important to provide to any pet caregivers. This includes places where you board your pet, doggie daycare, and anyone who looks after your dog when you’re out of town. When it comes to combating allergies, awareness and prevention is key. If your dog has already been cleared by your veterinarian to take Benadryl, make sure the people who care for your pet know the exact dosages and medication schedule. Keep the directions written down or posted in an easily visible area.

Not knowing your dog’s allergies, in addition to his overall health history, can lead to miscommunication or missed details that can have unfortunate results for your pet.

Maintaining a Healthy Pet

The goal is to always have a dog that’s healthy and happy. Most of the time, this won’t seem like a problem. However, there will be instances when extra attention is required. The best thing to do is document your dog’s behavior, allergies, and sensitivities. When your veterinarian can view a full picture of your dog’s health, the better the solutions will be.

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There are alternatives to Benadryl, if you are trying to treat your pet’s allergies and/or motion sickness without medication. Herbal and organic options are available in the form of vitamin supplements or hemp-based products. Because every dog will need to follow his own treatment of care, keep your options open. Have an open discussion with your veterinarian about pros and cons of giving Benadryl to your dog and what can possibly be used as alternative.

To combat allergies in dogs, it may simply be a matter of switching up your pet’s diet. Allergies can also come and go in phases where symptoms are more severe in certain months than others. Or you might be able to pinpoint the exact cause of the allergic reaction and avoid problems altogether by eliminating the culprit. Whatever the case might be, there are various solutions to consider.

While most veterinarians will agree that most antihistamines are relatively harmless medications to help dogs with allergies, anxiety, or mild motion sickness, always get your doctor’s approval and recommendation for Benadryl dosage first before trying it out. The inner workings of a pet’s body are complex and at times, unpredictable. Even something that seems benign can cause unintentional harm. Use medications as prescribed without changing doses. Consider that every action you take for your pet affects his health.

Give it time to work and take note of any changes, good or bad, you notice. It would be easier if there was a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the care of your pet but that’s just not the case. Consider their unique needs when trying anything new as part of their daily regime and always consult with your veterinarian first.

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