Benadryl for Dogs: Recommended Dosage, Side Effects, and More

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By: CertaPet Staff Updated: April 20, 2021

benadryl for dogs

If your dog or emotional support animal suffers from severe allergies or allergic reactions to things around them, then you know how hard it is to watch them go through that pain. However, there is a solution: Benadryl for dogs.

Benadryl is an over-the-counter drug, most commonly known as an antihistamine, and helps alleviate the symptoms that your dog may have in regards to allergies, allergic reactions, insect bites, itching, and more. Benadryl is also very cheap – generic Benadryl tablets costs about 2 cents each at Chewy.com.

Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Generic Benadryl for Dogs (100 Count)$2.00
Benadryl's active ingredient, Diphenhydramine HCl, is just as safe and effective on dogs as it on humans. Stop your best friends itching and allergies with this simple over the counter item.

Benadryl’s active ingredient, Diphenhydramine HCl, is just as safe and effective on dogs as it is on humans. Stop your best friends itching and allergies with this simple over the counter item.

First Things First, Is Benadryl for Dogs Safe?

YES!

Benadryl contains an active ingredient called diphenhydramine that is safe for your pet to ingest, unlike other cold, sinus, and antihistamine drugs.

Its purpose is to help alleviate the symptoms of allergies, allergic reactions, anxiety, motion sickness, bites, and much more to give your dog a more relaxed and stress-free lifestyle.

As with any new medication, however, it always pays to observe your dog closely after the dosage has been given for the first few hours. The reason being is that they may suffer from symptoms that occur with the medication, or it may, in fact, irritate the dog’s skin and cause their allergic reaction to get worse.  Some dogs can be allergic to benadryl and will cause more problems. While it can be very safe if given the correct amounts. If you overdose your dog it could be deadly. 

Benadryl Dosage for Dogs

The dosage of Benadryl you should give your pet will depend on its size. The easiest way to achieve this is to speak to your local veterinarian or following the guidelines of the chart below.

SIZE OF THE DOG DOSAGE OF BENADRYL
30lbs or smaller 10mg per dose or ½ adult tablet
30 – 50lbs 25 mg per dose or 1 adult tablet
50lbs or over 50mg per dose or 2 adult tablets

If you are unsure that Benadryl is safe for your dog to take or they have conflicting conditions, then please consult your local veterinarian before exposing them to the medication. However:

If you are a fan of natural and holistic alternatives, the next section should be of interest to you.

Natural Alternatives to Benadryl

There can be situations where you may not be able to consider Benadryl at all.

Like most drugs, Benadryl too has common side-effects. Your dog may suffer from dry mouth, sedation, hyper salivation, rapid breathing and increased heart rate.

If you are looking for more a more holistic remedy, we advise you consider the following options:

 

1. Honest Paws CBD Oil for Dogs

CBD products are not only safe for dogs, but they can also be used to help relieve occasional discomfort, assist the immune system, promote long-term health, and support healthy skin.

Our top pick for Pet CBD is Honest Paws CBD Oil for Dogs. This company has stellar ratings with the Better Business Bureau, is certified with the National Animal Supplement Council (which not many pet CBD companies are), and offer organic, all-natural products that are always lab-tested to ensure the highest quality.

With over 1,000 glowing reviews on their website, it’s easy to see why so many pet parents are turning to CBD to help their dogs live healthier and happier lives!

 

2. Vets Preferred Premium Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil

Salmon oil is also great for dogs, and Vets Preferred Premium Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is the best of them all.

Using salmon oil regularly helps relieve dry and itchy skin and moisturizes and soothes your pet’s skin from the inside out.

This may be ideal for you if you dog is prone to suffering from seasonal allergies.

Rated 5.00/5.00 by Certapet
Vets Preferred Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil$19.95
Vets Preferred Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil. Rich in Omega 3 & Omega 6 Fatty Acids - Promotes Heart Health, Healthy Skin, & Healthy Coat.

 

Diphenhydramine: Benadryl’s Most Active Ingredient

Diphenhydramine is an active ingredient that is found in Benadryl. It acts as an antihistamine that reduces the effects of chemical histamine that is found in your dog’s body.

Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Generic Benadryl for Dogs (100 Count)$2.00
Benadryl's active ingredient, Diphenhydramine HCl, is just as safe and effective on dogs as it on humans. Stop your best friends itching and allergies with this simple over the counter item.

Benadryl’s active ingredient, Diphenhydramine HCl, is just as safe and effective on dogs as it on humans. Stop your best friends itching and allergies with this simple over the counter item.

Diphenhydramine works to reduce and target runny noses, skin rashes, sneezing, watery eyes, itching, allergic reactions, motion sickness, and other allergy symptoms.

It also helps to induce sleep to give your pet some relief at night and is one of the reasons why it is prescribed a lot to help your dog with anxiety and the symptoms that come with it.

Benadryl for Dogs: Purposes in Detail

Benadryl for dogs is a medication that helps to alleviate mild-to-moderate allergies in your dog. The active ingredient of diphenhydramine targets a range of different conditions and symptoms that your pet may be suffering.

These include:

Allergies + Common Cold for dogs

Diphenhydramine’s purpose is to eliminate allergy symptoms that your dog may be suffering. These can include:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling + inflammation
  • Redness
  • A runny nose + eyes

Bites

If your dog has been bitten by something that has caused the area to swell up or inflame, then Benadryl can help alleviate that. Diphenhydramine is also useful if your dog is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction from the bite as it targets the chemical reaction that causes this to happen.

Anxiety

One of the side effects of giving your dog Benadryl is drowsiness. This is because of the active ingredient of diphenhydramine and can be used for dogs that suffer from anxiety as it helps to calm them.

Other Purposes

Benadryl is an all-around type of medication and can be also used for a number of different conditions and symptoms. If your dog suffers from motion sickness during car and plane rides, Benadryl can help to alleviate that.

It is also used as therapy medication to other conditions such as tumors. Benadryl has been known to help mitigate the effects of the massive histamine release that is caused by mast cell degranulation.

how much benadryl can i give my dog

Side Effects of Benadryl for Dogs

As with all types of drugs, there are side effects and symptoms associated with using Benadryl for dogs. It always pays to check with your local veterinarian or clinic before introducing the drug to your dog, and what dosage you should give them.

Before we cover the side effects and negative symptoms of Benadryl, if your dog has any of these conditions then check with your vet before you proceed:

  • Heart failure
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Bladder neck obstruction
  • Allergic lung disease
  • Prostatic hypertrophy
  • Seizures
  • Pregnancy

Once you have established if your dog has any of these conditions and have consulted a vet, the side effects and symptoms of using Benadryl for dogs can be broken down into two categories:

Common Side Effects + Symptoms

  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary retention
  • Sedation
  • Hypersalivation
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate

Rare Side Effects + Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased appetite

Monitor your dog closely for the first 1-5 hours after exposure to Benadryl, as this is when most side effects and symptoms will occur.

Beware of Over-Dosage and Allergic Reactions

benadryl dosage for dogs

Although Benadryl is safe to give to your dog, over-consumption and allergic reactions can still occur.

When a dog overdoses on Benadryl, signs will include a hyper-excitability of the dog’s central nervous system and can be fatal if not treated immediately by a veterinarian. Other symptoms of an overdose include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Agitation
  • Constipation

In terms of an allergic reaction, you should take your dog immediately to the vet also. As Benadryl is a drug that is used to treat allergies to pets as well as humans, the thing to keep an eye out for is if your dog’s allergies seem to worsen upon exposure to Benadryl.

The Dos & Don’ts of Benadryl for Dogs

When it comes to giving Benadryl to your pet, there is a simple couple of dos and don’ts to apply when using the medication.

The Dos 

  • Always test the drug firstnever give your dog the full dosage of Benadryl straight away. Try giving them a small amount and wait for a few hours. Watch to see how your dog reacts and if they have any side effects or symptoms.
  • Make sure your pet has a full stomach one of the symptoms of Benadryl can be nausea and a lack of appetite, so make sure that before you give your dog a dosage of the drug they have a nice full tummy.
  • Trick them and break up the tablets in food most dogs will be inclined to refuse a tablet. That is why it’s a good idea to break it up and put it in your pet’s food. They’ll never see it coming and it also makes sure they are still eating! There are many tips and tricks you can try or give your dog their medication in a pill pocket
  • Consult a veterinarian if you are unsure whether or not you should give the medication to your dog, then it doesn’t hurt to ask a vet just to be sure.

The Don’ts 

  • Give the medication to your puppy without consulting a veterinarianpuppies are like little human babies, and like them, there are some medications they can’t have. It pays to get that checked out before you go ahead.
  • Give your dog cold/sinus medications diphenhydramine is an active ingredient that is safe for your pet, however, many of the other cold and sinus medications or ingredients aren’t. Make you’re the label ONLY has diphenhydramine and nothing else.
  • Avoid liquid Benadryl as this is an over-the-counter antihistamine, it may come in the form of liquid. Make sure to avoid this as Benadryl liquid has a high concentration of alcohol content which is unsafe for your pet.

Do not exceed recommended dosage this can result in your pet overdosing on the medication which can have fatal side effects.

Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Generic Benadryl for Dogs (100 Count)$2.00
Benadryl's active ingredient, Diphenhydramine HCl, is just as safe and effective on dogs as it on humans. Stop your best friends itching and allergies with this simple over the counter item.

Benadryl is completely safe for your pet and can help reduce the stress and pain that comes with having allergies, anxiety, bites, and more. But again, if you are considering an alternative, we strongly recommend using Honest Paws CBD oil and CBD dog treats.

As diphenhydramine is an active ingredient that targets all those nasty symptoms your dog experiences, it is a reliable medication to give your dog when needed.

What if Benadryl Doesn’t Help My Dog’s Allergies?

There are other over the counter and prescription medications that you can also try to help your dog’s allergies.  Medications such as Zyrtec, Apoquel or Claritin are other medications that your veterinarian may recommend for your dog.  As with any new medication also watch your dog for a few hours after giving these medications. 

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase CertaPet.com may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

Disclaimer: This post may contain references to products from one or more of our partnered sites, Honest Paws and Vets Preferred. However, CertaPet content is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. Please seek veterinary advice for your own situation. For more on our terms of use, visit this page


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  • My dog has allergies. I give her Apoquel every day. She still licks and chews her paws. Can I give her Benedryl and Apoquel?

  • My dog has a bad problem with one eye draining really bad. The allergies are really bad right now. Dr said give her 1/2 Benadryl tablet. Do you know how long I can give her this? I have given it to her for this week. Her eye was looking so much better till today. Do you think it’s still ok to keep giving it to her?

  • How many days is ok for prolonged use?
    How fast should symptoms clear up?
    My dog suffers from itching and rash basically

  • Just to be clear and for the record, with regards to Benadryl Liquid Gels. According to their website, the ingredients listed are:

    Active Ingredient: Diphenhydramine Hcl (25 Mg)
    Inactive Ingredients: Gelatin, Glycerin, Polyethylene Glycol, Purified Water and Sorbitol, Capsules Are Imprinted With Edible Dye-Free Ink.

    I don’t see where you get that this contains alcohol.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

    Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase CertaPet.com may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.

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