Benadryl is also known as diphenhydramine which is the most active ingredient in the drug. It is an over the counter antihistamine that helps ease allergies and alleviate anxiety. This is one of the few drugs that can be used by both humans and dogs.
Diphenhydramine is a drug capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and this is one of the things that make it effective. You can read about the blood-brain barrier and its importance here.
When it comes to dogs, it has a variety of uses and it is largely safe for them. That said, it is always a good and safe option to speak to your veterinary doctor before administering it even if you have it in supply at home.
What are the Uses of Benadryl?
Diphenhydramine can be used to treat different allergies in dogs such as food, insect bites, and environmental allergies. It can also be used to treat anxiety, hives, motion sickness, and mast cell tumors.
For allergies, it can be used to treat the following allergic reactions:
- Running nose
- Coughing and
- Anaphylactic reactions
Diphenhydramine is a receptor antagonist that works by blocking H1 receptors which receive histamines. This help keep histamines at bay. Doing this relieves or reduces the symptoms and effects of the allergy and also helps calm and relax your pet. It is a good medication to have in your pet emergency or travel kit.
Like we already stated above, it is essential that you first consult with your veterinarian before administering this medication to your pet. The vet will be able to diagnose and ascertain if the symptoms your dog is experiencing is due to allergies or other medical conditions.
The reason for this is that certain medical conditions may also have the same types of symptoms as an allergy and Benadryl may not be able to treat those. When it has been confirmed that it is indeed an allergy, your vet can advise you on how to go ahead with administering it.
Most medications for dogs are dependent on their weight and it is the same for Benadryl. Usually, diphenhydramine comes in a 25 mg tablet. The standard dosage is 1 mg/lb. which means if your pet is 50 pounds, you will need to administer exactly two tablets. These should be given about 2-3 times a day at an interval of 8 -12 hours. This may vary based on the condition you are treating.
For smaller dogs and puppies that are less than 25 pounds, there is the children’s liquid Benadryl which is easier to administer to them than tablets. Note that the dosage for the liquid is different from that of the tablet. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the right dosage. Using a syringe can help you accurately measure the quantity of liquid diphenhydramine to give.
You should avoid administering the adult liquid to dogs as it contains alcohol. Also, do not use capsules for dogs. The way humans absorb medication is different from animals so administering capsules may be too much and might result in an overdose.
An overdose of Benadryl can result in agitation, constipation, seizures, and dilated pupils. Avoid this by asking your vet if you are not sure of the correct dosage to administer to your canine.
Note that it takes around 30 minutes for this drug to kick in so you need to plan accordingly when giving it for anxiety or cases of mild motion sickness.
Benadryl usage comes with some side effects which is important that you know. These can include:
- Dry mouth
- Urinary retention
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
Side effects usually occur within one hour of use. You should keep an eye on your pet during this time. Also, if your dog has pre-existing conditions such as severe heart failure, seizure disorders, hypertension, etc., or if it is pregnant, make sure to consult your vet before administering it.
To avoid some of this side effects, ensure you administer the proper dosage. You should also check your pet’s food. If the allergy is due to its food, discontinuing such will eradicate the symptoms and you might not need to keep giving it the drug.
When used with some other medications, diphenhydramine may react negatively. Avoid using it with any central nervous system depressant, sedatives, or anticholinergic drugs. If you want to know more about anticholinergic drugs, you can do so here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323514.
There are several reasons why your canine may be experiencing the symptoms of an allergy. It is essential to confirm what it is before going ahead and administering any form of medication. Therefore, it is always a good practice to first consult your veterinary doctor before doing so even when you have the medication available. This will help reduces cases of wrong diagnosis and risks that come with it.