A common heard refrain among dog owners is ‘Can I give my dog Benadryl?’ Fortunately the answer is ‘yes’. Benadryl, or diphenhydramine, is a first generation anti-histamine. It is considered to be an extremely safe drug, not only for humans, but also for dogs. All the side effects of Benadryl are well documented and the most common is drowsiness. The other side effects are much rarer and ingesting a lethal dose of Benadryl is extremely difficult.
Dogs can be given Benadryl for a wide variety of problems. However, as with all medication, over the counter or otherwise, seeking the advice of a Doctor or Veterinarian, is advisable.
Some of the common problems for which Dogs can be given Benadryl are:
• Allergic respiratory disease – being an antihistamine, it will counteract the allergy.
• Cough – since the antihistamine in Benadryl reduces the allergy, the cough gets relieved.
• Pruritis or itchy skin caused by an allergy – dogs can scratch and bite the affected areas to get relief. The antihistamine in Benadryl will stop the allergy and the itching reduces. A topical application of an anti-biotic cream can be used to stop infection (since some antibiotics are contraindicated for dogs, it is imperative to seek veterinary advice). Putting a conical ‘Elizabethan’ type of collar, to prevent the Dog from reaching the affected area, may also help.
• Travel sickness – the mild drowsiness which is induced helps in overcoming this problem.
• As a mild sedative – the drowsiness side effect of Benadryl is being put to beneficial use.
Benadryl is contraindicated if the Dog has the following problems:
• If the dog has urinary retention.
• If it suffers from Glaucoma.
• If the dog has hyperthyroidism.
If Benadryl is used when the Dog has any of the above conditions, the symptoms may be aggravated and may lead to further complications in the condition of the Dog.
Though Dogs tolerate Benadryl well, the proper dosage must be given for it to have effect, as well as not to endanger the dog by over dosage. The thumb rule for dosage of Benadryl for a dog is about 1 mg/lb, to be administered every eight hours. Therefore, for a twenty pound dog, the dosage will be 20 mg of Benadryl. Though this is higher than what is used for humans, it is well tolerated by Dogs. Since Benadryl is an ‘over the counter’ medication it can be easily purchased from a pharmacy, either as tablets or in the liquid form. Due to problems with drunk driving, such medication has eliminated the use of alcohol as a part of the suspension. At times Benadryl may be in the form of a combination with other drugs. These combinations should not be used on the Dog. Read the label carefully to ascertain that it contains only diphenhydramine, the active ingredient of Benadryl. Even after reading the label, if you are in doubt, ask the pharmacist for advice.
Benadryl has been around for a long time and is extensively used. The known side effects are minimal and are not dangerous in nature. Drowsiness, being the main side effect, can be taken care of by a bit of prudence on your part. Provided you are sure that the symptoms do not manifest a more serious problem, then the answer to the question ‘Can I give my Dog Benadryl?’ is a resounding ‘YES’.