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Should I Give My Dog Benadryl?

cute and funny dogs

Should I Give My Dog Benadryl?

how much benadryl can i give my dog-laying dog

How much benadryl can i give my dog? There are few things in life scarier than knowing your dog is sick. As they can't talk, it's hard to know what is wrong and where it hurts.

Because your dog is part of your family, you want to go all out to prevent any further potential suffering.

At the same time, visiting a veterinarian isn't easy either.

They have inconvenient hours, are often booked weeks out, and unless there are clear indicators, tests to determine the cause of the illness can make an overblown reaction to a simple upset stomach an expensive misstep.

Often times, though, if your dog is experiencing an illness, human medicine can help.

While you should always connect and coordinate with your vet when giving medicine to your furry friend, dutiful research, and a commonsense approach can help improve the comfort level of any ill pet. 

What Is Benadryl?

 Benadryl is one of the most widely used over-the-counter pharmaceuticals available.

An antihistamine, Benadryl reduces the negative impacts that stem from environmental allergies

Its active ingredient is diphenhydramine, which dogs can easily digest, unlike other antihistamines.

This medication works by blocking the H-1 receptors, located in smooth muscles.

By blocking this specific receptor, certain chemicals are unable to latch on, which, in turn, reduces the symptoms of an allergy attack.

While Benadryl is only approved for allergy relief, doctors recommend it for a wide range of potential issues, from the relief of nausea or the symptoms of a common cold to aiding sleep and reducing tremors caused by Parkinson's.

In fact, several pharmaceutical companies brand and market the generic form of Benadryl as an over-the-counter sleep aid.

When using Benadryl correctly, the effects can last up to seven hours, with maximum relief coming after the first one or two.

Potential Dangers of Benadryl

 Like all pharmaceuticals, Benadryl should be used according to its listed instructions.

It's also not a drug that's recommended for everyone, or every dog. If you're over 60 years old or under the age of six, taking this medication can be dangerous, especially if you're ingesting more than the required dose. 

If you're pregnant, Benadryl can leak into breast milk, meaning any nursing children could be at risk.

There are many potential negative side effects from Benadryl:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Lightheadedness
  • Photophobia (I.e., light sensitivity)
  • Pupil dilation
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Temporary erectile dysfunction
  • Vomiting (in higher doses)

When it comes to canines, do not give Benadryl if your pet has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, or high blood pressure.

 If you're not sure, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.

When Should I Give My Dog Benadryl?

You can give your dog Benadryl in similar situations where you would give yourself Benadryl.

How much benadryl can i give my dog? That is, to alleviate the suffering from allergies, to help reduce nausea, or as a mild sedative. If your dog experiences symptoms beyond this, consult with your vet as to the best next steps.

If your dog isn't dealing with any of these issues, Benadryl will not help.

When you are using Benadryl as a sedative during times of high stress, plan on providing the dose about 30 minutes before it's needed.

That is, sometimes when your pet gets nervous in a car, give them the Benadryl about half an hour before you plan on leaving.

Additionally, as with humans, do not give a dog Benadryl if they are pregnant or nursing.

How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Dog?

Vets typically recommend a dosage of 1 milligram (mg) for every pound your dog weighs.

A single pill will typically hold 25 mg of active ingredient, perfect for a 25-pound dog.

Depending on your dog's weight, you may need to break a pill in half in order to provide the proper amount.

Please note that liquid Benadryl may have different concentrations than the pill form.

The rule of one milligram for one pound still applies, so make sure to read labels. Further, the liquid variety for children doesn't contain alcohol, while the adult version typically includes it.

As dogs are allergic to alcohol, it's generally better to provide Children's Benadryl whenever possible.

This dosage can be given two to three times a day, but should never exceed that, unless your vet specifically recommends it.

If your dog is new to taking Benadryl, keep them under close watch to see if they display signs of potential overdose:

  • Agitation
  • Constipation
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Seizures

If any of those symptoms occur, contact your vet or an emergency vet hospital immediately.

Benadryl Alternatives

While Benadryl is safe for both human and dog consumption, wanting to seek out alternatives is understandable.

Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to this medication, from other pharmaceuticals to counterconditioning to natural remedies.


Allergies can come from many sources, but when it comes to dogs, the main culprits are fleas, food, and their environment.

The best way to avoid allergies is to avoid their source. Contact your vet for allergy testing if your dog is displaying any signs of an allergic reaction:

  • General itchiness, including the ears, eyes, or face
  • Hives
  • Inflamed skin
  • Prolonged bouts of sneezing
  • Swelling

Your vet should be able to help pinpoint the specific cause, which will aid in avoiding it going forward.

However, avoidance isn't always as easy as switching out your dog's food with a grain-free variety, for example. 

Lifestyle changes may be necessary, especially if the allergic reaction is caused by foliage common to your neighborhood.

That may mean hopping in a car and walking your dog in a different area, altogether.


Dog anxiety is a big deal, and it affects canines all over the world.

The biggest causes of anxiety in dogs are aging, fear, and separation.

While there isn't a whole lot anyone can do about a dog getting older, there are ways to tackle both fear and separation.

Counterconditioning typically involves working with a certified pet trainer, but it is perhaps the safest way to reduce your pet's anxiety, as it does so by eliminating the fear or anxiety altogether.

With counterconditioning, you're trying to change your dog's response when they are faced with potential triggers.

For instance, if your dog gets anxious when the doorbell rings, train them to sit or focus on you whenever they hear the doorbell. 

This helps to teach them to control their reactions and will eventually lead to fewer issues.

Desensitization is another tactic to attempt. Here, you should have your dog confront the source of their fear or anxiety until they learn there is nothing to fear or be anxious about.

Start in small quantities and work your way up, rewarding them handsomely whenever they ignore the potential source.

Using the doorbell example, have a friend or neighbor stand outside the door without ringing the doorbell.

Your dog surely smells them, and if they're able to react calmly – or not react at all – give them a treat. 

Build your way up, so even the most gregarious of doorbell ringers won't cause a rise in anxiety.


Unfortunately, nausea by itself is a poor guide for a diagnostician, as the symptom could indicate any number of potential issues.

That said, sometimes dogs just have upset stomachs or even vomit from time to time.

That's normal. However, if your pet is continuously vomiting, or if there's blood in the vomit, or if the vomiting is combined with another symptom like seizures, it's time to take this symptom seriously and get your dog to a vet.

Your vet will then be able to run tests and x-rays as needed to pinpoint the underlying issue.

After that, they can develop a plan of attack to reduce the symptoms and, hopefully, prevent them from reoccurring.

While it's not a perfect rule of thumb if you're struggling to decide whether to contact the vet or not, think about what you would for yourself if you were displaying your dog's symptoms.

Most likely, if you'd only thrown up once, you wouldn't go to the doctor.

If you did it throughout the day, or across multiple days, though, you would and should seek medical attention.

So, Is Benadryl Safe for Dogs?

The short answer is "yes." While Benadryl has only undergone testing for humans, vets regularly recommend it for use in dogs who are displaying symptoms of allergies, anxiety, and nausea.

When sticking to the rule of one milligram of Benadryl for each pound your dog weighs, this drug is a safe tool to be used to alleviate symptoms and increase the comfort level of your pet.

The only slightly longer answer is "maybe." If your dog is old, nursing, or pregnant, Benadryl is not a good choice.

 If you're providing more than the recommended dosage, the potential for real harm caused by an overdose is present.

Always make sure to check with your vet before providing any medication to your dog.

They'll be able to guide you and provide you with the best options for your specific use case and make sure your pet is safe, healthy, and wagging its tail.

Featured Image: CCO Public Domain by Bruno Cervera via Pexels



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