Benadryl for Dogs Side Effects & Benadryl Alternatives

Side Effects Benadryl for Dogs & Alternatives

When dogs are in pain, pet owners won’t be able to tell at once. For most pet owners, they treat their dogs like family, hence, they take good care of them, including their overall well-being. So it becomes upsetting when you see your pet dog in pain.

What Is Benadryl for Dogs?

Benadryl is a branded medication currently produced and marketed by Johnson and Johnson. Its active ingredient and generic name is diphenhydramine hydrochloride. It is an antihistamine used to treat symptoms of allergies, the common cold and hay fever.


It relieves the following symptoms:

  • sneezing
  • itchy and watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • itchy throat
  • sinus congestion
  • sinus pressure
  • other symptoms of upper respiratory allergies


There are two ways to consume Benadryl. One is through oral ingestion in the form of a tablet and a liquid gel. The second is topical application, in the form of cream, spray, and gel.


Benadryl’s topical products are used for skin itch relief and is directly applied to the skin. Apart from itching due to allergies, Benadryl is also used to treat other skin conditions like poison ivy exposure and eczema. It is also important to note that diphenhydramine only relieves symptoms and is not a cure for its cause.


Few people are aware of the fact that Benadryl can also be consumed by dogs and cats. The American Kennel Club, veterinarians and other animal health professionals recommend using Benadryl. The American Kennel Club is an accredited organization and registry that promotes proper breeding, health and training for dogs. They recommend it for use to treat motion sickness, allergies and travel anxiety.


Make sure that your dog’s itching is due to allergies and not parasite and infections. Other sources of symptoms must be ruled out first before giving Benadryl to your pets and diagnosing it as allergies


Most allergies in canines may be seasonal or can be caused by food, environmental reasons and other animal bites (snakes, insects, etc.). Some examples of seasonal and environmental allergens are dust, molds and pollen.

Allergic reactions for dogs can manifest as

  • itchiness
  • swollen paws
  • teary eyes
  • sneezing
  • vomiting (in extreme cases)


Benadryl is known to cause drowsiness. With that, it is also used as a temporary treatment for anxiety and nausea for pets. Benadryl helps calm them down.


Dosage of Benadryl

It’s best to consult a veterinarian first before administering Benadryl to your dog. The recommended dosage for dogs would be 2 – 4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. This is based on a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This means, approximately one tablet is enough for an eighteen-kilogram dog. The largest dosage for diphenhydramine for dogs is between 24 to 30 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.


The frequency can vary depending on the size of your pet as well as its history of other ailments. Heart failure, seizure disorders and glaucoma must be checked first before administering Benadryl.


On average, it takes about 30 minutes for the Benadryl to take effect. The form and variant of Benadryl can have a different effect on the medication’s dosage. Some variants may take effect at a faster rate than other forms.

Side Effects of Benadryl

Administering Benadryl for dogs must be supervised and authorized by a veterinarian. If not supervised it has adverse side effects.


Some side effects can include the following:

  • dry mouth
  • hyper-salivation
  • increased heart rate
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • rapid breathing


On average, side effects manifest within one hour of ingestion so close monitoring is needed. Although rarely, dogs can also overdose on Benadryl.


Symptoms of Benadryl overdose are as follows:

  • rapid heartbeat
  • seizures
  • constipation
  • agitation and hyper-excitability


Cost of Benadryl for Dogs

Benadryl is available over the counter in various major retailers and pharmacies.


Price ranges from $4 to $8.20 depending on the retailer and variant purchased.


Interactions with Other Drugs

It is not advisable to use two different products and brands that contain diphenhydramine simultaneously.


Acetaminophen and Pseudophedrine are common ingredients in allergy medications. It is important to note that these ingredients are dangerous for dogs. That said, allergy medications must be double checked. Some Benadryl products, and other over the counter medicines like TylenolPM and Nytol.


Benadryl should also not be used with metoclopramide, selegiline, clomipramine, and other tranquilizers.


Ingredients in Benadryl

Benadryl contains diphenhydramine HCL as its active ingredient.

Pet owners should be very careful. There are some variants of Benadryl products that contain acetaminophen. This ingredient is not safe for pets.

Here are two variants of Benadryl that have acetaminophen:

“Benadryl Allergy and Cold”

“Benadryl Allergy and Sinus Headache”

So pet owners must make sure that they are giving their pets Benadryl with diphenhydramine HCL as the only active ingredient.

Alternatives to Benadryl for Dogs

For allergy symptoms particularly itching and swelling there are home remedies and they are listed below:

  • baking soda
  • apple cider vinegar
  • thyme
  • coconut oil
  • oat baths (not to be done if your pet’s allergies are accompanied by a yeast infection)
  • quercetin supplements.

For anxiety, it is often treated with training and counterconditioning. Anti-depressants are also prescribed to dogs. But this happens if your pet experiences an extreme and chronic anxiety disorder. This is only done by licensed and accredited professionals.

Another alternative to Benadryl is CBD or cannabidiol. CBD is a compound that is derived from cannabis and hemp. This is often attributed to the recreational drug but it is different.

CBD does not contain THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocanabidiol). This ingredient is attributed to the psychoactive properties of cannabis. So you don’t have to worry about your pet getting high. CBD for medical use is actually not obtained from marijuana but from hemp.

CBD comes in various forms like oils, balms, tablets and lotions. Today, there are even dog treats with CBD available in the market.

CBD ingested by mouth can reduce anxiety, pain, nausea and seizures. This is available in tablet or in oil form. If allergy symptoms appear on the skin, CBD oils can be applied on the affected area.

Whatever treatment you see fit for your dog, be it Benadryl, CBD or other natural home remedies it is still best to seek the advice of your veterinarian first. As with any medication, owners should be ready for side effects so it is best to err on the side of caution. At the end of the day, giving your dog the best care is the top priority.


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