As a dog owner, you’ve probably already discovered that human medicine is sometimes used to treat animals. Benadryl, which many of us take to reduce allergy symptoms, is one of those medications – but it must be used with caution on your dog, as it has some potential side effects. Always consult with your vet before giving your dog Benadryl, or any other medication, and for the correct dosage.
What is Benadryl?
Benadryl is the brand name for an antihistamine that is sold over the counter. It helps relieve the itchiness and swelling that come with allergies, allergic reactions, skin rashes, insect bites and more. Its active ingredient is diphenhydramine, which has been proven safe for your dog (1).
(Please note that many over-the-counter allergy, sinus and cold medications have other ingredients which are NOT proven safe for your dog – so be sure to read the label to make sure diphenhydramine is the only active ingredient.)
Using Benadryl For Dog Hot Spots
Benadryl may be beneficial in cases where dogs suffer from hot spots (acute moist pyotraumatic dermatitis) or itchy, irritated skin (3). These can be caused by:
- Food allergies. Some dog foods contain too much corn, soy or other “fillers,” and the dog’s system reacts to these negatively.
- Allergies related to the dog’s environment. This could include pollens, molds, dust, grass, etc. These allergies may be seasonal.
- Bacterial and fungal skin infections. Such infections can cause everything from itching to scabs, discharge and odor and lead to miserable dog hot spots.
- Fleas or ticks. These little freeloaders bite your dog, which initiates the scratching cycle that ends up in hot spots or itchy skin, especially if your dog is sensitive to flea saliva.
If you decide to medicate your dog with Benadryl…
Benadryl comes in liquid form, topical solution, tablets and injections (by a vet). If you’re treating your dog at home, we recommend using the tablets, as the liquid contains alcohol, which is not good for your dog – and most dogs don’t like the taste. The tablets can be broken up and fed to the dog hidden in food – a little trick that your pooch won’t even notice and will never reject! Products such as liver sausage can work great for this.
The standard formula for how much to give your dog is 1 mg of Benadryl x 1 lb. of body weight (2). (This is according to veterinary information received and published on several veterinary websites). For example, if your dog weighs 25 pounds, he/she should get 25 mgs of Benadryl. Others prefer to go with a lower dosage of 1 mg per 2.2 lbs to reduce the risk of overdose.
You can dose your dog with Benadryl 2-3 times a day, eight hours apart. But if you have questions about dosage, always consult your veterinarian – you don’t want to give too much.
Some important cautions to keep in mind for your dog’s hot spot treatment:
- Start off with a test dose. Make the first dose of Benadryl smaller than the standard dose. Wait a couple of hours to gauge your dog’s reaction. Take your dog to the vet immediately if there are any signs of any allergic reaction (abnormal behavior) to the medication.
- Give it to your dog on a full stomach, as some dogs may feel nauseated or lose their appetites if they haven’t eaten.
- Be patient. When taken orally, Benadryl can take half an hour to start working on relieving your dog’s itchy skin or hot spot.
- There may be side effects. These can include retention of urine, dry mouth, vomiting, diarrhea and appetite loss.
- Do not overdose your dog. Symptoms of overdose include rapid heartbeat, muscle tremors, labored breathing, confusion, fever, seizures, and more. If you see any of these, you’ll need to make an emergency visit to the vet, so again, make sure you consult with your vet about using the medication and giving the right dosage.
- It’s not good for some dogs. Never give Benadryl to puppies without first asking your vet. It also shouldn’t be given to pregnant or nursing dogs, or to dogs with other medical conditions, such as glaucoma, cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure.
- Topicals have a down side. There are Benadryl gels and creams you can use on your dog’s itchy skin, but they sometimes can cause irritation, especially if you’re using it over a longer period of time. Topicals should NOT be applied to blistered patches of skin – and be careful not to overdose if you’re also treating with tablets.
- Benadryl causes drowsiness. This may be a good thing (helping with stress reduction or anxiety), as its active ingredients are the same as those used in popular sleeping aids. But keep in mind that your dog may be sleepy after taking Benadryl.
Benadryl and Banixx Pet Care
As you can see from the information above, Benadryl may be fine as a treatment for your dog’s hot spots and/or itchy skin – but it has its drawbacks. If it’s used properly, it can be safe and effective, but you will always need to be prepared for its side effects.
Some dog owners use Benadryl very successfully in combination with the Banixx Pet Care products to add to its effectiveness, bringing immediate, soothing, topical relief.
In fact, many owners have found that using Banixx alone – without any other medication – is a powerful (and less stressful) way to reduce itching, swelling, skin damage and more. Banixx is applied 2-3 times daily to your dog’s hot spot or itchy skin by massaging it gently into the skin for complete saturation of the area. It works on contact – and is completely safe to use:
- You cannot apply too much or overdose with Banixx.
- Banixx is free of steroids, antibiotics and fragrance – and contains nothing that’s toxic, even if your dog licks it.
- Banixx can be safely used around your dog’s eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
- Banixx is gentle to your dog’s skin. It doesn’t sting or burn when applying, and it works quickly to aid in the recovery of your dog’s skin irritation or wound.
Learn more about Banixx and how it helps with hot spots here: https://banixx.com/hot-spots-dog-how-to-treat/
- Is It Safe To Give My Dog Benadryl? – https://www.canidae.com/blog/2017/06/is-it-safe-to-give-my-dog-benadryl/
- How to Treat Your Dog’s Hot Spots at Home Without a Vet – https://pethelpful.com/dogs/treat-moist-pyotraumatic-dermatitis-without-vet
- Benadryl For Dogs – https://www.veterinaryplace.com/dog-medicine/benadryl/