How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Dog? The Answer for Dog Owners!

dog allergy

If you have allergies, you know just how terrible they can be. Sometimes, you'll use Benadryl for relief; not everyone knows that Benadryl actually works for dogs too. You might wonder then, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?"

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Obviously, dogs come in different shapes and sizes, and they have different health needs as well. This is why you need to talk to your vet when you're thinking about giving Benadryl to your dog.

When you see your dog suffering from allergies, it's easy to wonder, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" You want to make sure that you have the right answer to this question because you don't want to overdose your dog. This could just end up making things worse.

How Does Benadryl Work?

Of course, it makes sense that a dog owner would ask, "How much Benadryl should I give my dog?" However, it makes sense to know a few things about Benadryl before pondering the answer to this question. How does it work, for example?

Benadryl is actually a brand name for a drug called diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine. People use it to treat allergies, help induce sleep, treat motion sickness, and to relieve some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

What diphenhydramine actually does is block histamine-1, or H1, receptors. Its activity makes it a receptor antagonist. This means it prevents histamine from having an effect on the airways and blood vessels, which are where many people experience allergic reactions. It also stops histamine's effect on the gastrointestinal tract, which can help reverse symptoms that include rash and itch, as well as stomach cramps.

"There's a saying. If you want someone to love you forever, buy a dog, feed it and keep it around." - Dick Dale

However, diphenhydramine comes with side effects, as well. It also blocks sodium channels and acetylcholine receptors, and it inhibits serotonin reuptake. This is why Benadryl has sedative effects, as well as unwanted side effects, which include dry mouth.

Diphenhydramine is a first-generation ethanolamine derivative antihistamine. This means that it's an antihistamine that can cross the blood-brain barrier, unlike the somewhat less effective second-generation antihistamines. However, even though it's more effective, people should keep in mind that it also comes with more side effects.

When most people think of Benadryl, they think about its use on human beings. They might not even think to ask, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" However, even though Benadryl isn't FDA-approved for veterinary use, it's considered safe for use in both dogs and cats by veterinarians all over the United States.

Some Background Information

on Dog Allergies

Your dog probably has allergies, If you're asking the question, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" There are different types of allergies in dogs. Allergies are a misguided reaction by the immune system to foreign substances.

In some cases, what people refer to as allergies in dogs can be treated with antihistamines, such as Benadryl. In other cases, there are other solutions that can alleviate symptoms.

Skin allergies

Skin allergies are also referred to as allergic dermatitis. These are the most common type of allergic reactions in dogs.

The three major causes of skin allergies in dogs are food allergies, flea allergy dermatitis, and environmental allergens.

Food allergies

Actual food allergies aren't very common in dogs. When a dog has a real food allergy, he'll experience an immune response. These can vary widely, ranging from skin conditions to gastrointestinal symptoms or even both.

However, most of the time, when a dog needs to be on a hypoallergenic diet, he has a food sensitivity, not a food allergy. This actually doesn't involve an immune response. These are just gradual reactions to some offending ingredient in your dog's food.

Your vet can give you recommendations for foods that are less likely to trigger your dog's allergies.

Acute allergic reactions

This is probably the most serious type of allergy you'll observe in a dog. Like human beings, dogs can go into anaphylactic shock if they have a strong reaction to an allergen. If this isn't treated, it can be fatal.

Some dogs develop facial swelling or hives in response to allergens. If your dog has swelling of the throat, face, eyelids, lips, or earflaps, it can look alarming, but it can usually be treated pretty easily with an antihistamine, such as Benadryl.

When to Give Benadryl to a Dog


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Benadryl can be a good medicine to give a dog who has mild to moderate allergies. There are many different types of dog allergies that respond to Benadryl quite often. These include food allergies, seasonal allergies, environmental allergies, and allergic reactions to the bites of insects and snakes.

How can Benadryl help dogs?

Benadryl can relieve many allergy symptoms in dogs. These include itching, hives, redness, inflammation and swelling, runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, and even anaphylactic reactions.

One of the side effects of Benadryl is drowsiness. Many people may consider this to be a bad thing, but it's actually good in many cases for dogs. It helps to calm them down when they're dealing with anxiety.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, it's possible that diphenhydramine can relieve mild to moderate anxiety symptoms in pets who are traveling. It can also potentially help with motion sickness.

Veterinarians often prescribe Benadryl for dogs who have mast cell tumors. Mast cell degranulation causes a great deal of histamine release, and Benadryl can help ameliorate this effect. Veterinarians also prescribe it for heartworm treatment because it can help with the allergic reactions that come with heartworm treatment therapy.

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Things to discuss with your vet

There are a few things that you should consider when you ask, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" One thing that you definitely need to do is consult with your vet about your dog's symptoms before administering Benadryl.

Your dog may have itching and red eyes, but that doesn't necessarily mean he just has allergies. In some cases, these are symptoms of more serious conditions.

Itching is associated with both allergies and other skin conditions. Benadryl is ineffective for the treatment of a lot of these. If your dog has glaucoma, which is often signaled by red, goopy eyes, giving him Benadryl can actually make things worse.

Only your vet can properly diagnose your dog. You can't determine this yourself, and you shouldn't try. This is why it's a good idea to talk to your vet before asking, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" In some situations, it's not even allergies, and you shouldn't be giving your dog Benadryl at all.

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Side effects

You clearly care about your dog if you would ask the question, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" Any loving dog owner should know about the side effects that come with giving Benadryl to a dog.

You should always check with your vet before introducing any drug to your dog. It's important to make sure that it won't have adverse interactions with any other medications he's taking or exacerbate any preexisting conditions.

There are certain conditions in dogs that make Benadryl use somewhat risky. These include severe heart failure, angle-closure glaucoma, bladder neck obstruction, prostatic hypertrophy, hypertension, allergic lung disease, and seizure disorders. You should only use Benadryl on your dog after consulting with a veterinarian if your dog has any of these conditions, or if you have a pregnant dog.

There are also common side effects that shouldn't surprise you if you give your dog Benadryl. These include dry mouth, sedation, hypersalivation, urinary retention, rapid breathing, and increased heart rate. Rare side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in appetite.

Typically, if your dog experiences side effects to Benadryl, it'll happen within the first hour of exposure. So if you give your dog Benadryl, you should monitor him closely during this time. You should pay attention to the side effects, along with the answer to the question, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?"

How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Dog?

Exactly how much Benadryl can I give my dog? According to the general dosage guideline, it should be 1 milligram of Benadryl for every 1 pound of your dog's body weight. This is just for one dosage, of course.

How many times should you be giving your dog Benadryl every day? You can give it to him every 8 to 12 hours, which would amount to about 2 to 3 times daily. You should keep in mind that if you use Benadryl frequently on your dog, it can lose effectiveness over time.

However, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule that applies to every dog. You need to check with your vet to make sure of the right amount you should be giving him. There are many factors that can actually change the dosage recommendation in certain cases.

Things to keep in mind

There are a few things you should keep in mind about administering Benadryl to your dog, in addition to the answer to the question, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?"

How to administer Benadryl

Typically, the dosage within one tablet is 25 milligrams, meaning you can usually give a 25-pound dog one tablet. Obviously, you shouldn't assume this and should check the information on the package first.

Usually, you should only give your dog Benadryl in pill form. The liquid form contains alcohol, which will be toxic to your dog. There's also a topical form of Benadryl that can be helpful with itching; you should follow your vet's instructions when it comes to gels and creams.


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Don't give your dog time-release capsules of Benadryl. Dogs absorb these differently than humans, and this could affect his dosage. It's also possible that they could break open during chewing and deliver too much medication into his system at once, which could put him at risk for an overdose.

You should also keep in mind that some formulas of Benadryl have ingredients that can be toxic to your dog. These include pseudoephedrine and acetaminophen. You should read the ingredients carefully and make sure only to give your dog what your vet says is okay.

If you have a little dog, you might want to use the children's formula. It has less of the active ingredient and doesn't contain alcohol, and it may be easier to measure.

Timing matters...

Most of the time, you should administer medication before your dog's exposed to allergens. You should follow your vet's instructions, particularly any regimen that he or she recommends. Stick to this regimen as long as your vet tells you to do so, even if your dog's symptoms seem to go away before this time is up.

What to do in case of an overdose

As is the case with any drug, it's possible for your dog to overdose on Benadryl. There are certain signs of an overdose to which you should pay attention. Typically, these involve hyperexcitability of the central nervous system and can be fatal.

If, after giving your dog Benadryl, you notice dilated pupils, seizures, agitation, constipation, or rapid heartbeat, it's possible that your dogs had an overdose. In this case, you should contact your vet or emergency veterinary hospital right away.

It's also possible for a dog to develop an allergic reaction to Benadryl. If you see symptoms of an allergic reaction, you should contact your vet right away, as well. Since you're most likely using Benadryl to treat allergies, you should observe your dog after giving it to him for the first time to make sure that his allergy symptoms don't actually get worse.

Alternatives to Benadryl for dogs

If you don't want to give your dog Benadryl, there are other options. Perhaps the best option is to limit your dog's exposure to the offending allergen in the first place. How feasible this is obviously depends on the allergen.

If your dog is allergic to pollen, dust, or anything else that he could track in from outside, it's an issue of cleanliness. You should keep your home as clean as possible and make sure that you're washing his bedding on a regular basis. Brushing him frequently and washing him occasionally can also help, particularly oat baths, which soothes itching and get rid of allergens.

Some dogs are allergic to certain foods. It can be difficult for people to spot this, but you can talk to your veterinarian if you suspect a food allergy and get recommendations for different foods.

There are also natural remedies that could be helpful, particularly if your dog has seasonal allergies. These include aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil. These are good for itching relief, and there are also supplements that could help alleviate allergic reactions.

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Don't Just Take a Chill Pill...

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It's hard to see your furry friend suffering from allergic reactions. This is why you want to do whatever you can to bring him relief. It makes sense, then, that you would ask the question, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?"

Of course, you should always consult with your vet before giving your dog Benadryl at all. It's easy to look at your dog and assume that he's having an allergic reaction, but he may actually not be. In some cases, giving him Benadryl could actually do more harm than good.

At the end of the day, your vet is the only person who can really give you an accurate answer to the question, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" It depends not only on your dog's size but also on the situation. Just make sure to use Benadryl properly, and you can keep your furry friend happy and healthy!

What do you think of our answer to the question, "How much Benadryl can I give my dog?" Let us know in the comments section!

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Last update on 2021-10-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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