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Can I Give My Dog Benadryl and How Much?

It's one of the age-old questions of owning man's best friend. Learn the complex answer to the question, "Can I give my dog Benadryl?"

Man's best friend: dogs have more than earned that title. They are loving, loyal, and adorably dumb at times. That's why we always want to give our dog the best. It's why we allow them to have the healthiest human food for dogs every once and a while and why we look into the benefits of doggy daycare before sending them there. 

One of the most frequently asked questions owners have is, "Can I give my dog Benadryl?" The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no, there are a lot of factors contributing to it. Generally speaking, Benadryl is safe to give to dogs, but there are a lot of caveats that come with it. So learn all the ins and outs of the medication and use your best judgment when giving it.

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl is an antihistamine, which is a fancy way of saying it primarily deals with allergies. This applies to environmental allergies and allergic reactions to bee stings, insect bites, and any other type of problem your dog may run into. With the summer season officially arriving, the odds of all the good boys and girls out there running into these problems will skyrocket. So, knowing whether you can give your dog Benadryl and when it should be used will be extremely important.

Be sure to consult with your veterinarian.

It is important that you consult your veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog. All dogs are different, whether it be breed, size, conditions they have, or the specific allergic reaction they are suffering from; no two cases are 100 percent similar. 

Vets have all the knowledge you're seeking and will undoubtedly give you the best advice for your dog. So before you even consider the question of, "Can I give my dog Benadryl?" be sure to ask an expert vet before doing anything rash.

Where can you get it?

Being an easy, over the counter antihistamine, Benadryl can be found almost anywhere. You should be able to find it at your local drug store, pharmacy, or grocery store. It's relatively cheap and can come in packs of eight, 48, and 144(!). So feel free to stock up on the medication right before summer comes full swing.

Know the side effects of Benadryl.

As is the case with every medication, there are a handful of side effects associated with Benadryl. The most common side effect is drowsiness, which is a reason why some owners use it to calm down their dogs if they are especially agitated. 

Some other sides effects include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry Mouth
  • Loss of Appetite

Now that you know some of the side effects, you'll have to deal with them if you ask "can I give my dog Benadryl?", give it to them, and have some of these appear. But that's part of the charm of having a doge, isn't it?

When should you use it for your dog?

As mentioned previously, the primary usage of Benadryl is for allergic reactions, but it is always nice to emphasize when you can use medication without worry. Yes, it can be used for allergies, but there are also a few other uses for it. With the primary side effect being drowsiness and lack of energy, Benadryl can also be used is when your dog suffers from:

  • Anxiety
  • Car/Motion Sickness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritation

Avoid liquid Benadryl.

While the answer to the question (can I give my dog Benadryl?) is yes, that does not apply to all forms of Benadryl. This is one of the caveats I mentioned earlier. Liquid Benadryl has a high level of alcohol in it, making it dangerous for all pets, not just dogs. Stick to the tablets; they're a lot safer than the alternatives.

When should I *not* use Benadryl with my dog?

While there are definitely cases when you should use Benadryl, obviously there are some when you shouldn't. Once again, checking with your vet before giving your dog this medication is of paramount importance. Some of the instances where you shouldn't (or should 100 percent check with your vet beforehand) are:

  • If your dog is pregnant
  • If your dog is on other medication
  • If your dog is depressed
  • If your dog is suffering from any other ailments

Not all of these are certifiable no-go's, that's why you need to consult with a medical professional. However, these are all situations in which you should err on the side of caution.

How long does it take for the Benadryl to take effect?

Usually, 30 minutes is how long it takes before the Benadryl takes hold. This can obviously vary from case to case. but if you're wondering, "Can I give my dog Benadryl before a long car ride and will that calm them down?" The answer is yes, as long as you do it 20-30 minutes beforehand.  

Putting it in food is your best bet.

Since you can't use the liquid version, you'll have to use the tablets. Since they're not necessarily tasty or appetizing, it can be hard to get your dog to eat them. The easiest method would be to put it in their food so they don't even notice. This also works well because one of the side effects of Benadryl is loss of appetite. 

I would personally recommend Greenies Pill Pockets for this job. Pills fit easily into the pocket designed to hold them and the hickory smoke flavor does a good job of masking the pill's flavor and scent. They were created specifically for this reason, so you can trust that your dog won't even notice. So before the lack of hunger sets in, it's a good idea to have your dog fully stocked in the stomach department.

Get the dosage right.

All men and dogs were created equally. That famous expression, which is 100 percent correct and not altered in any way, refers to inalienable rights, but not to proper medication dosage. One of the most important steps after you ask, "can I give my dog Benadryl?" is ensuring that you get the dosage correct. 

The standard dosage for Benadryl is one mg per pound of body weight. Most tablets are 25 mg, making them ideal for a 25-pound dog. It is recommended you do this two to three times day. If your dog is heavier, use the next closest combination of pills that will work.

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