can you give a dog or cat benadryl?

Can You Give a Dog Or Cat Benadryl? | Sick pug dog being given Benadryl by owner
Posted by Aliya McCullough DVM, MS on May 14 2020

Benadryl – the brand name synonymous with the over-the-counter medication diphenhydramine – is often prescribed as an antihistamine (a treatment for allergies). Benadryl may be safe to use in cats and dogs, but should only be administered if recommended by your veterinarian and supervised.

What is Benadryl used for in pets?

Veterinarians may recommend Benadryl to help dogs and cats manage pruritus (itching), allergic skin conditions, vaccine reactions, or allergic reactions caused by insect bites or stings. Some veterinarians may recommend its use for motion sickness, too.

Is Benadryl harmful to dogs and cats?

Like all medications, diphenhydramine can have unwanted side effects in pets: It can interact with your pet’s other medications, interfere with allergy testing, and cause sedation (sleepiness).

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When should you give your pet Benadryl?

Benadryl, or any generic version, should only be used at the direction of a licensed veterinarian. Also, it's important to keep in mind that Benadryl/diphenhydramine products may contain ingredients that are dangerous to dogs and cats, such as alcohol in liquid formulas or acetaminophen (Tylenol) in some capsules.

What should I do if my dog or cat accidentally ingests Benadryl?

If your pet accidentally ingests Benadryl or you suspect they may have consumed the medication, call your veterinarian and take your pet to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital. You may be instructed to contact the Pet Poison Helpline or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

How to prevent your pet from ingesting medications:

  • Keep all medications inside secure, chew-proof containers and store out of reach.
  • Never administer any over-the-counter or prescription medications to your pet without first consulting with your veterinarian.
  • If your veterinarian advises to give an over-the-counter medication to your pet, stick to the recommended brand/product and safe dosage.

If you have any lingering questions, make sure to speak with a licensed vet in the US or Canada. Pet insurance covers vet visits – even the ones online! You can get the answers you need without leaving the comforts of your home.

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