Benadryl for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

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Whether you’re the proud owner of a brand-new puppy or your senior pooch has been a member of your family for years, no pet parent ever wants to see their beloved companion suffering from any sort of health condition, big or small. There are times you may be tempted to treat your dog with home remedies, or even consider using medications intended for people.

However, what may be perfectly safe for a human may not apply to your dog, even if it seems like a relatively harmless drug. That’s why it is always recommended to proceed with caution when administering medications to your family pet and check with your vet’s office first before giving your dog any kind of medication. This article will talk about Benadryl and its side effects for dogs, as well as the various instances your veterinarian may prescribe this well-known allergy treatment to your four-legged friend.

Understanding The Medication: What Is Benadryl?

Benadryl is actually a brand name for several different antihistamine medications, created for humans and used to treat allergies. In the US and Canada, it refers to the active ingredient diphenhydramine HCL. Diphenhydramine works by blocking receptors on certain muscles and blood vessels that receive histamines, relieving allergy symptoms such as excessive sneezing, itching, and hives. Since Benadryl is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, which can also render it harmful if misused. Diphenhydramine has not been FDA approved as safe for dogs, therefore it is imperative to consult with your veterinarian before giving it to your pet.

How Can Benadryl Tablets Help My Dog?

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Benadryl is a common over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine medication used by humans to treat allergy attacks, hay fever, and other allergic reactions. It is frequently prescribed by vets as a treatment for itchiness in dogs due to canine skin allergies, as well as reducing the symptoms that typically accompany allergic reactions.

In the event that your veterinarian deems it a safe therapy for your dog, Benadryl is often prescribed to treat mild to moderate canine allergies (such as seasonal hay fever), since it inhibits histamine release and mucus production. Your vet may also use it to treat more specific allergic reactions such as:

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Bee Stings
  • Environmental Allergies
  • Flea or other Insect Bites
  • Food Allergies
  • Hay Fever, Sneezing or Coughing
  • Hives
  • Itchy Skin
  • Nausea
  • Red/Irritated Skin
  • Runny Nose & Eyes
  • Snake Bites
  • Stuffy or Runny Nose
  • Swelling & Inflammation

Benadryl can also be a useful treatment if your dog suffers from any of the following symptoms other medical/physical conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Car Sickness
  • Insomnia
  • Motion sickness
  • Reactions to Vaccines

Because one of the primary side-effects of Benadryl in dogs is drowsiness, your vet may use it to alleviate anxiety in your dog, particularly associated with traveling and motion sickness that may occur during plane rides or car trips.

Did You Know…

Veterinarians have been known to prescribe Benadryl for other health conditions besides allergies and motion sickness in dogs – in fact, it has been used to treat dogs with mast cell tumors. The medication helps to mitigate the effects of the exorbitant histamine release caused by mast-cell degranulation. Benadryl has also been used as an adjunct therapy for other medical conditions, including heartworm treatment therapy.

Is Benadryl Safe For Dogs?

As is the case of administering any medication, it is highly recommended to make a veterinary consultation before giving any drug to your dog. During your dog’s check-up, be sure to ask questions about his condition if he appears to be suffering from an allergy attack, and have his complete medical history available, including any medications he may be taking. Once your vet has conducted a complete physical, he or she will be able to determine the cause of his allergies, or if his symptoms are indicative of another underlying health condition.

Giving your dog Benadryl without a definitive diagnosis can be not only ineffective, but dangerous. For example, your dog’s red, watery eyes may look like an allergic reaction, but he could be suffering from glaucoma, in which case Benadryl is not only useless, but can actually worsen your pooch’s condition. Keeping this in mind, the benefits of scheduling an appointment with your trusted vet’s office are two-fold: providing an accurate determination of your dog’s condition, as well as the safest form of therapy – a win-win for you and your pet!

What Are The Side Effects Of Benadryl For Dogs?

As a dog owner, it’s essential to be aware of the side effects of Benadryl in the instance that your veterinarian prescribes it. In addition to informing your vet of any medications your dog is currently taking to avoid potential drug interactions, it is wise to ask if it can worsen a preexisting medical condition.

Some common side effects that occur in dogs who have been treated with Benadryl include:

  • Decrease in Urination
  • Dry Mouth
  • Hypersalivation
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Rapid Breathing/Difficulty Breathing
  • Sedation
  • Urinary Retention
  • Vomiting

In some rare cases, your dog may also experience diarrhea, vomiting, and an increase or decrease in appetite. The majority of side effects occur within the first hour of administration, so monitor your dog’s reaction carefully during this time frame. In the event that his reactions are severe, contact your vet immediately.

Important: If your pooch has any of the following health conditions,