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Benadryl for Dogs

Benadryl for Dogs

Although dogs and humans clearly have very different anatomies, there are a surprising number of human medications that also work safely on our canine companions. If you've ever found yourself wondering "Can I give my dog Benadryl?", the answer is yes. Often used in people to combat allergic reactions, Benadryl does the same in dogs. It's also used to treat other canine conditions. Before giving any
medication to your dog, however, it's important to understand what you're giving and how much to administer.

Benadryl for Dogs

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Dogs and Benadryl

When your body decides it doesn't like something like pollen or shellfish, it reacts to the negative stimulus by releasing chemicals called histamine. Histamine receptors throughput your body then gather this histamine to create an allergic reaction such as hives, itchy eyes or a runny nose. Benadryl does the same thing in dogs, and as such you can use it to combat allergy symptoms like hives, rashes and skin irritation in your dog.


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Benadryl is also used to treat mast cell tumors in dogs. Mast cells are a type of white blood cell. A mast cell tumor is a large mass of these white blood cells clumping together. These tumors can release a large amount of histamine and cause the body to display allergy symptoms even when no allergens are present. Benadryl eases the effects of these tumors in the same way that it eases genuine allergic reactions.

Because Benadryl can induce drowsiness, some pet owners use it to treat anxiety in dogs during trips to the vet or thunderstorms. This is generally not recommended, however. if your dog has anxiety, it's best to try behavioral modification, anxiety vests, pheromones and other natural treatments. Many dog owners find CBD dog treats and tinctures especially helpful.

Benadryl Dosage for Dogs

For adult humans, the dosage for Benadryl is one to two capsules every four to six hours. That may be too much for small dogs, however, and too little for large breeds. The Benadryl dosage for dogs is determined by weight, and is generally one milligram per pound of body weight.


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This dosing regiment can prove impossible to follow, however, as most Benadryl tablets contain 25 milligrams of medication. If you have a five-pound teacup Chihuahua, it's hard to break the pill into a five-milligram piece. In this instance, you would use the following dosing guidelines, which are also broken down by weight:

  • 1) 30 pounds - 10 milligrams (1/2 a tablet)
  • 2) 30 to 50 pounds - 25 milligrams (1 tablet)
  • 3) 50 pounds or more - 50 milligrams (2 tablets)

Give your dog three doses of Benadryl per day, spaced eight hours apart.


Although safe for most, the American Kennel Club warns that some dogs should not have Benadryl. Never give Benadryl to a pregnant dog without your vet's approval. Dogs in heart failure and those with seizure disorders can't have Benadryl either, and neither should those with angle closure glaucoma.


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Don't give your dog Benadryl if she has a blockage or obstruction in the neck of her bladder or if she has high blood pressure. Lung disease and Benadryl mix poorly, as well. Check with your vet before giving your dog Benadryl if he has prostate issues, too.

If your dog is one for whom Benadryl is a bad idea, remember that there are other options. You can always try other allergy medications along with homeopathic remedies like a skin-soothing oatmeal bath. CBD treats and oils may also ease your dog's discomfort and soothe allergy symptoms.

Side Effects

Just as it does with people, Benadryl for dogs can cause some side effects. Benadryl has a well-known reputation for making people sleepy, and it does the same in dogs. Expect your dog to take a nap after you give him his medication and make sure he has lots of fresh water, as Benadryl causes dry mouth as well. A drowsy dog is likely to be a bit sluggish so don't worry if yours seems a little slow. Benadryl sometimes causes urinary retention, so don't be alarmed if your dog urinates a bit less even though she is drinking more.


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The previously mentioned side effects are very common, but there are some other less prevalent side effects you should know about. Benadryl could upset your dog's stomach and cause her to lose her appetite, vomit or get diarrhea. While most dogs get sleepy on Benadryl, a handful will get excited and hyper instead.

The Bottom Line

Can I give my dog Benadryl? Yes. Unless she has certain health conditions or is allergic to the drug, you can give your dog Benadryl. If you do, recognize the usual side effects and call your vet right away if your dog has an unusual or unexpected reaction to the medication. If this is your first time giving your dog Benadryl, stay with her so you can monitor how she reacts to the medication.

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