Benadryl for dogs dosage side effects

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Benadryl for Dogs: Dosage and Side Effects

Unfortunately, dogs can sometimes run into minor health complications just like people do. It isn't unusual for some owners to give their dogs Benadryl, which is also known as diphenhydramine. Benadryl is an antihistamine that can be obtained over the counter and is primarily used to treat allergic reactions, but it can also act as a mild sedative. Though humans regularly use Benadryl, it's vital to know when and how much of this potentially harmful medication to give to your pet. There's also the most important question of them all: Is Benadryl safe for dogs?

Benadryl Usage for Dogs

Diphenhydramine has a wide variety of uses for humans as well as their canine companions. Benadryl is most popularly used as an allergy medicine for dogs. According to Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC, DABT, toxicology consultant for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and founder of VETgirl, dogs can have allergic reactions to a wide variety of things, including fleas, dermatitis and atopy (the canine equivalent of hay fever). They may even have an anaphylactic reaction to other events like a vaccine, bee sting or bug bite. When a dog is experiencing an allergic reaction, it will exhibit symptoms like scratching, itching and even swelling of the face.

Do the signs all point to an allergy or anaphylactic reaction? First and foremost: Don't panic. It may look alarming, but it's unlikely that your dog's life is in immediate danger. "Dogs rarely develop that upper airway swelling. Instead they just get this really swollen face or hives, so it's rarely life threatening," Lee says. Benadryl can help with dog itching and swelling and is commonly recommended by many veterinarians.

Using Benadryl for dog anxiety is effective, but acceptable only on rare occasions. For example, if your dog experiences extreme fright during booming firework shows, you might give him some Benadryl to calm his nerves on the Fourth of July. But long-term Benadryl use can have a number of negative and fatal side effects, such as high blood pressure and liver failure. In the shorter term, Benadryl can even have the opposite effect and actually cause hyperactivity in your dog. Rather than using Benadryl for your dog's chronic anxiety, most veterinarians would recommend specialized behavior training and safer pharmaceutical alternatives.

Benadryl cream should be applied topically when your dog has irritated areas of the skin, such as a bug bite, bee sting or closed rash that has not been rubbed raw. After applying, dab off the excess cream to discourage your dog from licking it off. Oral Benadryl can come in either liquid or capsule form, which is ideal for atopy, swelling and other allergic reactions. When using liquid, be sure to use the children's kind, which is easily measured and does not contain any excess ingredients.

Whenever you administer a decongestant to a dog, read the packaging carefully, as some medications are safer than others. "For example, Claritin D is deadly to your dog because it's got a life-threatening amount of the decongestant pseudoephedrine," Lee says.

Benadryl Dosage for Dogs

If you're sure your dog is experiencing an allergic reaction or similar event, it's important to know the proper Benadryl dosage to give her. Overdose can be catastrophic for your pooch, so pay close attention to how much Benadryl is typical for your size dog. The ideal Benadryl dosage for dogs is by weight, normally using the formula of .5-1 milligram of Benadryl per pound. You should wait at least eight hours before giving your dog another dose.

And before administering Benadryl to your dog, it's vital to consider your pet's medical history. "If your dog has underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, seizures, or hypertension or heart disease, [your veterinarian is] not going to recommend the use of Benadryl," Lee warns. If you have any doubts about the dosage or the safety of Benadryl, contact either your regular or emergency veterinarian before giving diphenhydramine to your dog.

If you see no results after dosing, do not give your dog more Benadryl. You could put your pet at risk for overdose. Calling your veterinarian is the wisest move. Wondering what advice might be waiting for you on the other end of the phone line? "If it doesn't work, then they would recommend coming in and getting a dose of steroids, plus injectable Benadryl into the muscle," Lee says. Remember, your veterinarian is always your best resource.

Benadryl Side Effects for Dogs

Though Benadryl for dogs is generally safe when properly dosed, some dogs can experience side effects. The most common side effects include dry mouth, frequent urination, hyperactivity and drowsiness. If you applied cream Benadryl topically and your dog has licked off the medication, it will likely be harmless if ingested in small amounts, but can cause stomach upset in some dogs.

If you accidentally administer too much Benadryl or your dog somehow ingested a bottle of diphenhydramine, it may cause high blood pressure, racing heart rate, tremors, seizures and severe sedation. "When in doubt, always check with your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian," Lee says.