Can dogs have Benadryl?

April 13, 2012

People have this notion that what is good for them would be good for the pet as well. Dogs are well loved pets. The care and love dog owners give to the pet is the same as the love and care given to a child. Apart from premium quality food, the dog would also have a taste of whatever food the master is eating. It is not surprising then if in an emergency situation the owner would administer human medication to the dog. Owners would naturally want the best for the pet. However, giving medication formulated for 150 lbs human to a 50 lbs dog would never be a good idea. Instead of alleviating the pain or the discomfort of the pet over dosage can end up killing the pet. Although humans and dogs have similar genetics, the systems of the dog can react differently to the human medication. However, there are some human medications that can be safely given to the pet. Benadryl is one.

Benadryl is the brand name for diphenhydramine, an antihistamine. This medication was really formulated for humans. Given in the right dosage this human medication can be safely administered to the dog. Allergens in the environment, insect stings and bites, allergies to food would trigger immune cells to release histamines. Histamines are the body’s inflammatory response to the sneezing, runny nose, watery itchy eyes that are caused by molds, pollen, dust and other allergens. In an effort to neutralize bacteria and ward off infection, histamines will stimulate gland secretion, dilate blood vessels and release a significant amount of proteins thereby attracting other immune cells to gang up on the invaders. However, this action causes some body parts to redden, swell and to get painful. Antihistamines have an important role in this allergic reaction. Antihistamines stop the effects of allergens and disables histamines. Allergy medications have antihistamines as active ingredients.

Dogs, similar to humans, can suffer from allergic reactions too. Benadryl can alleviate the allergic symptoms of the dog. This human medication is given to a dog to treat insect bites, to ease severe itching associated with an allergic reaction to vaccinations, to foods and to allergens in the dog’s environment. This drug has other pharmacological effects. Benadryl is used as a mild sedative that prevents motion sickness. As an anti-emetic drug, Benadryl is given to a dog prior to travelling to prevent vomiting. Dogs that have to undergo splenic mast cell tumor removal are given Benadryl before surgery to counter act the mast cells’ histaminic effects.

Benadryl, like any other medications have potential side effects. Drowsiness is the common side effect of Benadryl although this can be an advantage especially when the pet has to be transported and a long car trip is necessary. The drug can also affect the central nervous system so that the dog would be lethargic. Vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite and urinary retention are noticed in dogs treated with Benadryl. Benadryl is a reasonably safe drug for dogs. This over the counter medication is readily available. But because of the potential side effects vet consultation would still be necessary before the drug can be administered to the dog. If the pet is under medication, Benadryl can block the effects of the other medication. Additionally there are circumstances when this drug should not be given to the dog. Benadryl has anticholinergic effects and would have adverse effects if taken by dogs suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), enlarged prostate and angle closure glaucoma. Caution must be exercised if the drug will be administered to dogs with cardiovascular diseases, hyperthyroidism and high blood pressure. Benadryl is an effective medication for the dog but as with any other human medications, a vet’s advice would be necessary before giving this medication to the pet.

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