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Using Benadryl to Treat Dogs for Allergies, Bites, and More

Benadryl is an effective medicine for humans, but is it safe for your dog? It’s a common question many dog owners ask, and most vets would agree that it can be used safely and effectively. Benadryl, in its pure form, is also known as Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride (its non-trade name). It is vital that you select a form of Benadryl that does not contain other medications for cold or sinus symptoms; only the pure form of Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride is safe for your dog. Follow these tips to help you decide if Benadryl can help your dog.

Benadryl for Bites and Stings

bulldog nose

Dogs, just like humans, get stings and insect bites, especially during the spring and summer. Depending on the location of the bite, the critter that inflicted it and your pet’s sensitivity, this could be a minor irritation or an emergency.

If the bite or sting is located in the region of the neck and throat, monitor your dog carefully for signs of breathing difficulty. The most common place of injury for a dog is the face and muzzle because they bite at insects. Once a dog is bitten, swelling typically ensues. It is usually not very painful, but can cause severe itching. Be sure to monitor the swollen area carefully to make sure your dog can eat and breathe as he should.

Other Uses for Benadryl

Benadryl can be used in most instances of bites and stings. It can be used to treat seasonal and non-seasonal allergies, vomiting, motion sickness and muscle tremors. Seasonal allergies are very common in the spring when forestry equipment is being used in nearby wooded areas. Use of Benadryl is safe and will calm the allergic reaction. It can also prevent extreme swelling. If your dog is nursing or pregnant, you should avoid using Benadryl unless advised to do so by your veterinarian. The most common side effect from giving your dog Benadryl is drowsiness; sedation may be mild to moderate. Other side effects for dogs include dry mouth and the inability to urinate. Potential side effects that are less common include loss of appetite, diarrhea or vomiting.

When to Avoid Using Benadryl

Dogs with prostatic disease, cardiovascular disease, glaucoma and hyperthyroidism should not be given Benadryl. If your dog takes any medications for pain or other sedatives, interactions should be discussed with your vet prior to administering this antihistamine. Working animals such as police dogs, sight dogs and hearing dogs should not be given this type of medication. Your vet will be able to tell you the appropriate dose and frequency for your dog’s weight, age, and health.

While Benadryl can be safe and effective, always check with your veterinarian before using it or if you have any concerns.

Michelle is a blogger and current freelancer for a forestry equipment company. She’s written about almost every topic under the sun, and loves constantly learning about new subjects and industries while she’s writing. Whenever she’s able to step away from her computer she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dogs.

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4 Responses to Using Benadryl to Treat Dogs for Allergies, Bites, and More

  1. Enoch Stremi says:

    Shots might seem like an unusual way to treat allergies, but they’re effective at decreasing sensitivity to triggers. The substances in the shots are chosen according to the allergens identified from a person’s medical history and by the allergist during the initial testing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees the standards used in preparing the materials for allergy shots given in the United States.

  2. Julie-Anne Le Gras says:

    Good information, about seasonal allergies, okayed by Trupanion (our vet insurance).
    What dosage do you recommend for Benadryl? I’ve read elsewhere about 1mg per pound. So, for a 23 lbs dog, about 23 mg every 8 – 12 hours. Do you agree? And how does one measure 23 mg out of a bottle of Benadryl? Any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    • Stacy says:

      Hi Julie-Anne, great question! You are correct that the recommended dosage is 1 mg per pound every 8 hours. For your pup, you might round down to 20 mg since tablets can be purchased in 10-20 mg quantities. Liquid Benadryl often contains artificial flavoring so it would be wise to consult your veterinarian just in case some of these chemicals might make your dog sick.

  3. LR says:

    Interesting article — good to know. Does Trupanion cover the cost of Benadryl if it was recommended by the dog’s vet to address the dog’s allergies? (and assuming the allergies weren’t a pre-existing condition, of course)

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