Is it safe to give dogs Benadryl?

April 13, 2012

Diphenhydramine is the generic name for Benadryl. This over the counter antihistamine medication alleviates the itch, relieves runny nose and sneezing that are associated with an allergic reaction. A person hypersensitive to allergens in the environment, to insect bites and to foods will suffer from allergic reactions when exposed to these usually innocuous substances. As a reaction, the mast cells will release histamines into the blood stream. This is the body’s effort to prevent infection. Histamines will cause the blood vessels to dilate. Because the walls of the blood vessels becomes permeable fluid will leak and seep into the surrounding tissues. This effort of the immune system to neutralize the allergic reaction will result to rashes and swelling, skin redness and itching, a drop in blood pressure and an accelerated heart rate. Benadryl is one of the antihistamines that can slow down or inhibit the effects of histamines.

Dog owners are aware that like humans, dogs can suffer from allergies too. The dog can show allergic reactions to insect bites, to foods, to plants or to pollens in the environments. Once the dog is noticed to show symptoms of allergy, the owner would usually give the pet human medications that can effectively relieve the discomfort. Pet owners are cautioned against using human medications to treat canine illnesses but dogs are well loved pets. Dog owners cannot stand seeing an ailing pet. It would not be unusual for a pet parent to find anything that can relieve the pain or the discomfort of the pet. Benadryl is a medication for humans but this antihistamine can be safely given to dogs. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not specifically approved this human medication to be used in animals. However, some vets really do prescribe Benadryl. As long as the medication is given in the right dosage, it would not have negative effects on the pet. The vet would usually prescribe 1 mg of Benadryl per pound of body weight. Benadryl must be given 2 or 3 times a day.

Benadryl is an over the counter medication. Because this antihistamine is proven effective in relieving allergy symptoms, a bottle of Benadryl would have a permanent place in the family’s medicine chest. Benadryl is commonly used for its antihistaminic properties. However, Benadryl has other pharmacological efficacy. This drug is used to treat urticaria, a skin condition that is associated with an allergic reaction. This medication is otherwise used to treat canine atopy as it can effectively reduce itchiness. Benadryl serves as a sedative and an anti-emetic medication thus it is usually given to dogs that need to make a long car or plane ride to prevent motion sickness. As mentioned, mast cells would release histamines. Benadryl is given as a pre-surgical medication for the surgical removal of mast cell tumors to control the release of histamines into the blood stream.

As with any other medication, Benadryl has some side effects too. Indiscriminate administration of Benadryl can result to adverse effect on the health of the pet. This medication has sedative effects thus it can affect the nervous system and cause sleeplessness, depression and lethargy. Benadryl has anticholinergic effects and a dog given this medication can have dry mouth and suffer from urinary retention. The dog may lose weight due to inappetance and suffer from diarrhea and vomiting episodes. This drug has to be administered with caution in dogs under medication for hyperthyroidism, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases as it can interfere with the efficacy of the medication.

Benadryl is an over the counter medication. This means that dog owners can dispense the drug even without vet consultation. However, because of the contraindications and the side effects it would just be wise to administer Benadryl under the supervision of the vet.

Discussion

comments