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Can Benadryl help calm a dog?

When Should I Give My Dog Benadryl?

If you look in most medicine cabinets, one of the first medicines you’re likely to see? Benadryl. Benadryl is an extremely common antihistamine (allergy medication) used to treat allergy symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes. For humans who have allergies, Benadryl can a game-changer. But what about for pups? While vets typically don’t recommend giving human medication to dogs, Benadryl is one medicine that often gets their stamp of approval. Many vets recommend giving your dog Benadryl for everything from insect bites to anxiety. But what are the guidelines for Benadryl dosage for dogs? How often can I give my dog Benadryl? What is Benadryl an effective treatment for? And when (and under what circumstances) should you give Benadryl to your pup?

What Is Benadryl?

Golden Retriever Licking

Before we jump into how to use Benadryl for dogs, let’s talk about what, exactly, Benadryl is. Diphenhydramine HCL, the active ingredient in Benadryl, is a receptor antagonist. Now, if you’re scratching your head and thinking “H1 antaga-what. ” let us explain. Throughout your body, there are proteins called histamine receptors. When your body produces histamine, it binds with these receptors and creates all of those pesky allergy symptoms (like sneezing or an itchy throat). A receptor antagonist blocks the histamine receptors—so, if there’s histamine in your body, it can’t bind with the receptor and wreak all that allergy-related havoc. Think of it like this—the histamine receptor is a parking spot. When you take a receptor antagonist like Benadryl, it’s like parking a car in that spot—so when histamine shows up, the spot’s already taken. Benadryl doesn’t stop the body from producing histamine—it just stops it from binding to the histamine receptors and causing adverse reactions in the body.

Is It Safe To Give My Dog Benadryl?

Beagle Being Fed A Treat

Now that you know how Benadryl works, let’s talk about the most important question of all—when it comes to Benadryl for dogs, is it safe? And the answer is—yes, it is. But it’s important to educate yourself and talk to your vet before you give your dog any medication, and that includes Benadryl. Technically speaking, Benadryl isn’t FDA-approved for use in animals. But Diphenhydramine HCL has a number of off-label uses, and prescribing Benadryl for dogs is common practice with vets around the country. That being said, you shouldn’t give your dog Benadryl before consulting with your vet. Your vet will be able to tell you if A) Benadryl is an effective treatment for whatever ailment your pup is struggling with, b) there are any potential side effects or drug interactions you should be on the lookout for, and c) whether it’s safe for your dog to take, given their medical history and current list of medications.

When Should I Give My Dog Benadryl?

Pug With A Hoodie

Benadryl is an allergy drug, so obviously, it makes sense to give it to your dog if they’re struggling with seasonal or environmental allergies. Benadryl can help relieve your dog of mild-to-moderate allergy symptoms, including:

  • Itching and Itchy Skin
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Runny Nose
  • Runny Eyes
  • Swelling
  • Hives

If you know what your dog is allergic to, it’s better to give your dog Benadryl before they’re exposed to the allergen; so, for example, if you know they always have an allergic reaction to the dander at the dog park, give it to your pup 30 minutes to an hour before you go. However, Benadryl works pretty quickly—so if you give your dog Benadryl after they have an allergic reaction, it should only take 30 minutes to an hour to start providing relief. If your dog struggles with more serious allergy symptoms, Benadryl might not do the trick. Talk to your vet to get your dog on the proper medications for their allergies (and to give your sweet pup a little relief from all the sneezes and itchiness!). Also, if your dog has a severe allergic reaction or goes into anaphylactic shock, it’s important to get them emergency medical care immediately.

Benadryl Dosage for Dogs: How Often Can I Give My Dog Benadryl?

boxer mix with eyes closed

So, Benadryl is safe for dogs—but now it’s time to talk the correct dosage. Before giving your dog any medication, you’re going to want to talk to your vet to get the green light—and that includes on how much Benadryl to give your pup. In certain cases, your vet may recommend upping the dosage (for example, if your dog gets bit by a pup), or lowering the dosage (for example, many vets recommend children’s Benadryl, which has smaller amounts of Diphenhydramine HCL, for dogs like chihuahuas) to best suit your dog and their needs. Just like with any human medication, the dose of Benadryl for dogs is super important. Too small a dosage and they won’t get any relief from their symptoms. Too high a dose and you run the risk of serious side effects or overdose. Overdose symptoms include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Constipation (can’t poop)
  • Dilated pupils (the black center of their eye becomes really big)
  • Agitation/aggression
  • Seizures

So how, exactly, do you find the right dosage for your dog? The standard dosage guidelines are 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of body weight two to three times per day. So, if your dog weighs 25 lbs, you can give them a 25 mg dose of Benadryl for dogs every eight to 12 hours. However, we cannot stress enough: talk to your vet first before giving your dog any medication! There are no shortage of reasons why Benadryl might be dangerous for your pup, including if they have any of the following conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Thyroid issues
  • Seizures or epilepsy
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Pregnant/breastfeeding
  • If they are taking any other medications

Can I Give My Dog Benadryl For Anxiety?

dog on bed

If your dog has anxiety, you know it can be a struggle—for both you and your pup. Your dog might become anxious when you leave him at home alone (also known as separation anxiety), when he has to interact with new dogs or people, or in reaction to loud noises (like thunderstorms or street traffic). Anxiety can cause your dog to react in a number of ways; anything from excessive barking to scratching at the door (and causing some serious damage in the process) are typical side effects of canine anxiety. Now, Benadryl is officially a drug for allergies—but that’s not the only thing you can use it for. One of Benadryl’s most common (and popular!) off-label uses is as a treatment for anxiety—and that includes for your dog. Benadryl has mildly sedative effects. When you give your dog anxiety, those sedative effects can help your dog keep from getting overly anxious—and keep any anxiety-related symptoms at bay. So, if you’re wondering “is Benadryl safe to calm dogs down?” the answer is absolutely. One thing to keep in mind—Benadryl is great for anxiety, but those sedative effects can also make your dog sleepy. If you have any activities scheduled where your dog needs to be awake and alert, save the Benadryl for another time. And while we may sound like a broken record, please remember to always talk to your vet before giving your dog any medication!

How do I use Benadryl for my dog when traveling?

Pit Bull In Back Seat of Car

As we just mentioned, Benadryl is a great option to give your dog when they have anxiety. But even if you don’t have an anxiety-prone dog, there’s one activity that can make even the most chill dogs out there at least a little bit jumpy—and that’s traveling. Traveling can be tough for your pup. Whether they’re traveling in your car or on a plane, chances are, they’re stuck in their crate or their carrier for hours on end. Plus, when you’re traveling, there aren’t many opportunities to give them the attention and comfort they need. If you’re traveling in a car, you’re either driving or strapped into one of the seats. If you’re flying, you have to obey airline rules and keep them in their carrier. It makes total sense that your pup would feel anxious in that situation! Giving your dog Benadryl before they travel is a great way to help your pup manage their nerves during the long trip ahead. And as an added bonus, Benadryl may also help your dog with motion sickness—so you don’t have to worry about any mid-flight or mid-ride tummy issues.

Wrapping things up

English Bulldog sticking his tongue out

You want your pup to feel as good as possible, as often as possible. And if your dog struggles with allergies, anxiety, or just good, old-fashioned travel nerves, Benadryl can be a great way to ensure they feel their best. But one more time for good measure—before you give your dog ANY medication, including Benadryl, it’s important to talk to your vet. Let your vet know your dog’s history, any medications he is on (or has been on in the past), and why you think your dog might need Benadryl. They can give you the proper guidance on whether Benadryl is the right fit for your dog—and, if it’s not, what you can give your dog to make it feel better.

Is Benadryl Safe for Dogs?

Pug wrapped in brown blanket

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Benadryl is a brand name for the drug: diphenhydramine, which is an antihistamine. Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of the naturally occurring chemical histamine in the body. Histamine is often produced during an allergic reaction. Benadryl is used for many different reasons:

  • Decreases cold-like symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, or itching
  • Reduces hives and skin rashes
  • Prevents or treats allergic reactions and symptoms
  • Treats motion sickness or to induce sleep
  • Occasionally used for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

What Can Benadryl Be Used to Treat in Dogs?

Pills out of bottle on table

Just like humans, antihistamines can be used to treat similar allergic reactions in dogs. The important aspect is to know whether your dog is having an allergic reaction or has chronic seasonal allergies. In addition, dogs may exhibit different symptoms that may not mimic those of humans, so it’s vital to know what to look for. In most cases, dogs who are having an allergic reaction may exhibit symptoms on the skin’s surface or have difficulty breathing.

Although your furry friend can show signs of allergies that are similar to those of humans, you’ll want to make sure that your pup doesn’t have a more serious condition at hand.

If you notice nasal discharge, coughing, or inflamed, reddened eyes, these can all be signs of a respiratory infection. Therefore, remember not to assume your pet’s allergies are causing these symptoms.

You may be thinking, “what is Benadryl for dogs?” and is it safe for you to give Benadryl to your pet? It all comes down to getting a comprehensive evaluation from your vet. If your fur baby is indeed suffering from an allergic reaction, your vet may recommend daily doses of Benadryl for dogs.

Signs and Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs

As we mentioned, the below signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs can also be indications of more serious illnesses. Don’t automatically assume any of these are just signs of allergies. However, if your vet notices these common symptoms, they may recommend treating them with an antihistamine like Benadryl. Some of the signs and symptoms of allergic reactions in dogs include:

  • Sneezing
  • Red or watery eyes
  • Nasal congestion or drip
  • Coughing or hacking
  • Frequent awakening
  • Difficulty breathing
  • An audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Raised, red patches of skin known as hives
  • Eczema or itchy skin

Seasonal Allergies vs. Food Allergies in Dogs

There are many things in your home that may trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. Some of these may include:

  • Dog bed stuffing or other fabrics
  • Food allergies to treats, bones, or toys
  • Other pets in the household
  • Mold or dust mites
  • Doggy shampoo or conditioner
  • Indoor plants
  • Essential oil diffusers or fragrances in the air
  • Smoke from candles or cigarettes

It’s recommended to do a “trial and error” of what could be triggering your pet’s allergies. In addition to removing items from your house that might be causing allergies, the best advice is to clean thoroughly, wash the bedding often, and clean with all-natural products with no chemicals. Your vet may recommend Benadryl for dogs who have chronic allergic reactions to their environment.

On the other hand, food allergies will be dealt with by changing food brands or styles, not with Benadryl. This may include eliminating or adding grains, switching from different meats, or investigating other additives that could be in your pet’s regular food.

How Much Benadryl Should You Give Your Dog

Sick dog lies on the bed

The standard dosage for oral Benadryl for dogs is 1 mg per pound of body weight, given two to three times a day, or as needed. Most average diphenhydramine tablets found at the drugstore are 25 mg, which is the size used for a 25-pound dog. If you’re not sure how much Benadryl to give your dog or what kind of Benadryl is safe for dogs, make sure to contact your veterinarian. Below, we have included an easy to read, Benadryl for dogs dosage chart which can help you determine how much Benadryl to give your furry friend.

Benadryl infographic from Prudent Pet

*Click to view the full image

Benadryl Side Effects In Dogs

English bulldog sleeping on couch sick

Although Benadryl for dogs can be an excellent tool to help treat seasonal allergies and anxiety, every medication tends to have a few side effects. Just like for humans, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects associated with Benadryl for dogs. Benadryl side effects in dogs can range from extremely mild to more serious; therefore, it’s important to consult your vet as early as possible if you’re noticing any abnormalities.

Here is a complete list of potential Benadryl side effects in dogs:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry tongue or mouth
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased urinary abnormalities
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in appetite or thirst
  • Vomiting

Most Benadryl side effects in dogs occur within the first few hours, so always carefully monitor your furry friend after giving them this medication. Beforehand, make sure to discuss with your vet on what to do if your dog experiences any of the above Benadryl side effects.

Can Benadryl side effects in dogs be used for good?

Yes. In fact, some Benadryl side effects in dogs can be used to treat various health issues your furry pal may be experiencing. Your veterinarian may use Benadryl side effects in dogs, such as anti-anxiety and drowsiness, to help control behavior conditions or inflammation.

For example, with your dog’s seasonal allergies, Benadryl can be used to help decrease skin and throat inflammation. Also, vets may prescribe Benadryl for dogs if they are having difficulty sleeping due to chronic or seasonal allergies, which can help them get the necessary sleep they need to stay healthy.

Can Benadryl Be Used as a Dog Anxiety Medication?

Small brown and white dog cowering under bed

Yes, vets may prescribe Benadryl for dogs if they experience symptoms of anxiety. Certain types of events can trigger pet anxiety, such as fireworks, travel, storms, etc. If your furry friend needs dog anxiety medication, talk to your vet to see if Benadryl could help.

Some common signs of anxiety in dogs are:

  • Barking or howling excessively after you leave
  • Panting more than usual
  • Pacing back and forth nervously
  • Shivering or shaking (when it’s not cold)
  • Cowering in a corner of the house
  • Digging inside or outside
  • Escaping the yard frequently
  • Destroying furniture or other items
  • Excessive licking or chewing on their paws/fur

Before an event such as a holiday or festival, when fireworks may be released, your vet may instruct you to give your pal dog anxiety medication such as Benadryl to calm their nerves. Likewise, if your dog gets nervous on car rides, your vet may suggest you give them Benadryl before your trip. Always make sure to follow your vet’s instructions and never self-prescribe any dog anxiety medicines, even if they are deemed “natural” or over-the-counter.

Do Vets Prescribe Benadryl for Dogs on Airplanes?

Yes, vets sometimes prescribe Benadryl for dogs as a “dog anxiety medication” before going on a flight. Benadryl side effects in dogs may also be used to help relieve motion sickness during the plane ride. Because flying on a plane can be a traumatic experience for some pets, dog anxiety medicines like Benadryl can help calm their nerves and make them more drowsy, so they sleep during the trip.

Always talk to your vet more than two weeks before you are planning to travel, to make sure your four-legged friend will be safe and comfortable. If your furbaby is unable to take Benadryl or it hasn’t worked in the past, your vet may suggest a stronger dog anxiety medication like Clomipramine or CBD oil.

Benadryl Overdoses In Dogs

Corgi unwilling to take small white pill from owners hand

It’s important to follow all instructions given by your vet before giving your dog any medications. Follow our Benadryl for dogs dosage chart to avoid an overdose. Even though most Benadryl for dogs are considered to be relatively safe, it’s always important to know what to do in case of an accidental Benadryl overdose.

Warning signs to watch for may include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dilated pupils
  • Constipation or vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Fainting
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Shaking or shivering

If you think your dog has overdosed on Benadryl, contact your emergency veterinary hospital immediately. In these cases, being enrolled in pet insurance from Prudent Pet that covers specialist and emergency room visits can be life-saving.

Never delay getting your dog the treatment they need. Even if you’re not sure your dog has taken too much antihistamine or Benadryl, always write down their symptoms and call your vet. Benadryl overdoses in dogs can be life-threatening if not addressed as soon as possible.

How Can Pet Insurance Cover Allergy-Related Issues?

Vet checks up a Bulldog

Allergy conditions can be easily managed with the right guidance and medication. Depending on your pet’s situation, allergies can last for a short period or a lifetime. One aspect many people are unaware of, both dog and cat insurance often cover many visits related to allergy issues.

If you want to learn more about what allergy-related visits pet insurance covers, give us a call at 888.820.7739, and one of our team members will be happy to assist you with all your questions. Ready to take the next step and get a FREE pet insurance quote today? Ensure your pet is healthy and happy with Prudent Pet insurance.

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