4 min read


Can I Give My Dog Benedryl?



4 min read


Can I Give My Dog Benedryl?


When you're sick, you can typically deduce what you've come down with, figure it out, and take some over-the-counter medicine to remedy your issues. Have you ever wondered if you can do that with your dog, too?

While typically veterinarians don't recommend you administering drugs to your pooch without their permission and advice, there's one human medicine that you likely can use for your pup - Benadryl! In fact, it's one of the only over-the-counter drugs that veterinarians will allow owners to administer at home. 

Do you want to know when you should be administering Benadryl to your pup? Are you interested in what signs you should be looking out for that signal you should be giving your pup Benadryl? 

First and foremost, consult your dog-tor, but if you're wondering if you should even take that step, take a look at our guide below to pick up on a few tips and signs as to when and why you should be administering Benadryl to your pup!


Some Signs and Symptoms that Should Suggest Your Dog Could Benefit from Benadryl

We know you'd rather not see direct signs that your dog needs medicine, but if you want to keep your pup healthy, you should always keep an eye on his well-being.

 If you're wondering if your dog is exhibiting signs that he could need or would benefit from the appropriate dose of Benadryl, but aren't sure, we first suggest consulting your vet. 

However, if your pup is exhibiting signs or suffering from things like itchy or irritated skin, nausea, car sickness, insomnia, insect bites or bee stings, or allergies, then Benadryl could be a useful, helpful drug to find your pup some solace and relief. 

If your pooch has a stuffy nose, hay fever, sneezing, coughing, congestion, asthma, allergies, or is having a reaction to a vaccine or a shot, Benadrly could be useful here, too! 

Body Language

Here are a few body language signs we think you should keep a lookout for when you're monitoring your pup and deciding whether or not you should administer Benadryl. Consult your vet, but also, keep a look out for these signs:

  • Alert
  • Head Tilting
  • Cowering
  • Panting
  • Howling
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

The body language above should be helpful in determining if your pooch is suffering from an ailment where Benadryl could be useful, but there are plenty of other signs that can help you determine if your pup could benefit from a dose of Benadryl, including:

  • A Stuffy, Wet, Runny Nose
  • Insomnia
  • Car Sickness Or Nausea
  • Insect Bites Or Stings
  • Congestion/Asthma
  • Irritated Or Itchy Skin

The History of Benadryl Use for Pups


Though not an FDA-approved veterinary medicine in the United States just yet, vets across the nation have been prescribing and encouraging pet owners (who have consulted with and been approved by their vets) to administer Benadryl at home for their pooches. 

The active ingredient in Benadryl, diphenhydramine, is a first-generation antihistamine that was discovered in 1943 by George Rieveschl, a former professor at the University of Cincinnati. It was approved by the FDA for human use in 1946 as the first prescription antihistamine. 

While we're not quite sure when the first case of a dog using Benadryl was reported, vets have been encouraging and prescribing this treatment for years. Historically, this medicine has been used to help pups who suffer from painfully, itchy and irritated skin, allergies, congestion, and allergic reactions to things like insect bites and bee stings, or painful reactions to necessary vaccinations.

What's the Science Behind Benadryl and How is it Okay for Dog Use?


To give you a better idea of why Benadryl could be a useful and helpful drug for your pup to use, we thought we'd get into some of the science behind the over-the-counter medicine. Benadryl is an antihistamine - or a drug that helps inhibit symptoms and psychological effects of histamine. Often, it's used on people with allergies, swelling, or congestion. It blocks the H-1 receptors on smooth muscles and blood vessels to ease pain and discomfort. 

Overall, it's used to reduce symptoms that might be bugging you. It can help reduce motion sickness, and with pets, can be used as a very mild sedative when need be. 

The active ingredient in Benadryl is diphenhydramine HCL and is considered safe by veterinarians across the U.S. despite not being FDA-approved for veterinary use. If you're thinking about using this for your pup, we certainly recommend you consult with your vet first. 

Training and You: How to Remain Aware of Benadryl Side Effects and Risks


While there's no exact way to train your dog to tell you when he or she needs Benadryl (though, there are plenty of body language signs they'll give you!), it's important to train them to safely and calmly take the proper dose of Benadryl. 

While the dosage is up to you (after you've consulted with your vet), teaching your pup to eat a pill is vital to their ingestion of it. We suggest placing the correct dosage in your dog's food, as long as it's not in the slow-release capsule form. You can also train your pup to take a pill out of your hand, like you do with treats. 

If you're choosing to give your dog the liquid form of Benadryl, train them to work with a syringe - it's one of the most convenient ways to give your dog medicine. Practice with your pooch by feeding him water in a syringe to get him used to it.
It's also important you train yourself to know when not to give your pooch Benadryl. If your pup is suffering from lung or heart disease, has glaucoma, high blood pressure, an enlarged prostate, or is sensitive to Benadryl, you shouldn't give it to them. If your pup is pregnant, you should avoid benadryl as well. 

Overall, discuss first with your dog-tor if you should be giving your doggo the diphendydramine.

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Written by a Great Dane lover Hanna Marcus

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 01/26/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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