Is Benadryl Safe for Dogs?

Is Benadryl Safe for Dogs?

Your dog can react very differently from you to commonly used over the counter medications, yet many owners reach into their medicine cabinet to treat their dog. Benadryl is one of those popular medications. But is it safe for your dog? Read on to find out if Benadryl is right for your pup.

First, What is Benadryl & How Does it Work?

Benadryl is one brand name for Diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. These (no surprise by the name) block receptors that receive histamines. By doing so, it can provide relief to many of the symptoms allergies, hay fever, and the common cold that cause: itching, sneezing, watery eyes, rashes, runny nose, nausea, etc.

The body will still continue to produce histamines; just the receptors are blocked from registering them.

An analogy would be similar to someone trying to send an email to a full mailbox. The email still exists, it just can’t be delivered because it’s being told there’s no storage left for it. 

What Can Benadryl Help My Dog With?

For canines that suffer through mild to moderate allergies (seasonal, food, and environmental allergies as well as allergic reactions to insect bites), Benadryl can be extremely helpful. It is not yet approved by the FDA for veterinary use, but is still considered safe for use and recommended to pet owners regularly. Symptoms in dogs commonly treated with Benadryl are:

  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Runny nose & eyes
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Anaphylactic reaction

Veterinarians have also been known to recommend Benadryl for:

  • Anxiety caused by travel, due to Benadryl’s drowsy, calming effects
  • Motion sickness during car and plane rides
  • Treating mast cell tumors by lessening the impact of the tremendous histamines they release
  • Heartworm treatment due to the allergic reaction many dogs face from heartworm treatment therapy

Side Effects of Benadryl for Dogs

You should be aware of the different side effects, and drug interaction Benadryl can cause your dog before administering the antihistamine. Common side effects include:

  • Extreme Drowsiness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Urinary Retention
  • Increased Salivation
  • Higher Heart Rate
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Most side effects will occur in the first hour or so of taking Benadryl. So you should be highly monitoring your dog during this time to ensure they don’t have an extremely adverse reaction.

Should You Give Your Dog Benadryl & How Much?

Before considering Benadryl for your canine companion, you should always check with your veterinarian first. Never use the capsules because they can break in your dog’s mouth, instead use the tablets or pills. When instructed to by your vet, giving your dog Benadryl can help lessen many irritating symptoms they may be facing. Your vet should tell you the appropriate amount your dog should take, and you should never exceed that limit because it is possible for your furry friend to overdose on Benadryl, which can be fatal. Signs of a Benadryl overdose to look out for:

  • Racing Heartbeat
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Agitation
  • Constipation
  • Seizures

If you suspect your dog has overdosed, contact your emergency veterinary hospital immediately.

Benadryl can be extremely helpful for your canine companion if used correctly, helping decrease those pesky allergy symptoms and allowing them to be a fun loving pup again.

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