Is Benadryl Safe for Dogs?

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Is Benadryl safe for dogs? This is a common concern for many dog owners. In this day and age, more and more people are being aware of the possible side-effects of over the counter medication that’s why natural methods are quickly gaining popularity. We don’t want our pets to go through any unpleasant side-effects.

is benadryl safe for dogs
Photo Credit: Tama Leaver Flickr via Wunderstock (license)

Disclaimer – Ask your vet if Benadryl is safe for your dog. 

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl is an over the counter medication used to treat mild to moderate allergy symptoms. Diphenhydramine HCL is the active ingredient in Benadryl and is a first-generation antihistamine used to treat symptoms such as runny nose, watery eyes, hives, inflammation, coughing, sneezing or throat itching as well as symptoms of hay fever and the common cold. It is used in seasonal, food and environmental allergies. 

Histamines are produced in the body whenever it detects something we are allergic to. Diphenhydramine works by blocking receptors in the body that receive histamines thus preventing the body from creating unpleasant allergy symptoms.

Common side effects are Headache, dry nose, dry throat, dry mouth, and drowsiness.

Although uncommon, other side effects of first-generation antihistamines are trouble/pain with urinating, vision problems, constipation, nausea, chest congestion, dizziness and loss of appetite. Speak to your doctor before you take Benadryl especially if you have an enlarged prostate, heart disease, glaucoma, seizures, heart disease, high-blood pressure, thyroid disease. Benadryl is also sedating and can cause drowsiness. It is commonly given to dogs because it can temporarily calm anxiety in certain situations like thunderstorms, fireworks, and separation anxiety. It can also relieve motion sickness in dogs during car or plane rides as well as relief from hay fever symptoms and skin allergies. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking antihistamines.

Is Benadryl safe for dogs?

Benadryl is yet to be approved by the FDA for veterinary use. However, Benadryl is considered safe for dogs when used sparingly and as long as there are no pre-existing medical conditions and only under guidance of a vet.  The standard dose is 1 mg per pound of body weight. Speak to your vet to get a proper dose according to the size of your dog. If your dog experiences an acute allergic reaction such as facial swelling and difficulty breathing, take your dog to the vet right away. 

Before you reach for the medicine cabinet

Do not use Benadryl if your dog has:

  • Glaucoma
  • Severe heart failure
  • Pregnant
  • Lung disease
  • hypertension

More things to keep in mind

  • Never give time release capsules to dogs. Capsules are assimilated differently in dogs than humans. Capsules can easily break when chewed, releasing too much medication all at once and putting your dog at risk of having an overdose
  • Some formulations may include Tylenol or Phenylephrine can be fatal to dogs. Make sure that dephenhydramine is the only active ingredient. Check the label carefully. 
  • Always give with food. It may take up to 30 minutes to see effects. 
  • Benadryl tablets come in 25 mg which is right for a 25 pound dog. Do not take liquid Benadryl because of high alcohol content.

Alternatives to Benadryl


Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments called Flavonoids that give certain fruits, flowers and vegetables their colours. It is abundant in nature and food. There are over 6,000 types of Flavonoids identified so far in research. Flavonoids are anti-oxidant, anti-histamine, anti-inflammatory, ²lowers blood pressure, improves bone and heart health and some studies suggest it even ¹lowers the risk of getting certain cancers.

Pears with berries on wooden background

Quercetin can be found in the skin of fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, papayas, apples, peaches, pears, oranges and watermelon, bananas, cherries and cranberries.

Never give onions and grapes to dogs even if these are rich in quercetin. Onions and grapes are very toxic to dogs! 

How does Quercetin work?

Histamine is produced in the body when it detects an allergic substance such as pollen, dust, mould, flea saliva, grasses, cleaning materials or even cotton or wool. The body then reacts by creating inflammation, redness, itchiness, sneezing, hives and just about every awful symptom associated with allergies. Quercetin blocks or at least greatly reduces histamine production in the body, therefore, reducing allergy symptoms, hence it is often called nature’s Benadryl. Bromelain is a mix of enzymes found in pineapples that also reduce inflammation and swelling. Bromelain and Quercetin are often formulated together to make it more effective.


Take the weight of your dog and multiply it by 1,000 mg then divide it by 150. For example, Watson, our Labradoodle is 75 pounds multiplied by 1,000 =75,000 divided by 150 is 500. Therefore Watson’s dosage is 500 mg a day but better to give 250 mg twice a day.

Ask your vet if Quercetin is right for your dog. Too much Quercetin can damage your dog’s kidneys.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is rich in minerals, enzymes, amino acids. It contains vitamins A, C, E, B12, Choline and Folic acid and up to 75 healing constituents. No wonder it is known all over the world as the “Wonder Plant”. It is an effective anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal which can be used as an alternative to Benadryl to your dog’s skin allergies. Aloe vera is beneficial both in dogs and humans. Simply cut open a fresh aloe leaf and remove the gel.

Is benadryl safe for dogs
is benadryl safe for dogs

The yellowish liquid that appears is latex which contain saponins and must be removed.  The outer skin is mildly toxic and may produce a laxative effect on dogs. Discard immediately to prevent a messy cleanup.  Rub the gel to your dog’s irritated skin twice a day. The healing compounds and cooling effect of aloe work quickly to soothe inflamed or damaged skin. It can be applied to dry itchy skin, bites, wounds, eczema, and skin folds with fungal infections. 

Ask your vet if aloe vera is right for your dog. Do not give to dogs that have kidney or liver disease, pregnant or lactating

Coconut Oil

Similar to Aloe vera, coconut oil is also a powerful anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral. Simply rub coconut oil directly to your dog’s dry irritated skin. Don’t be surprised if your dog develops a taste for coconut oil and keeps licking it off as It definitely tastes better than aloe vera.

Is Benadryl safe for dogs

 The benefits of coconut oil in dogs goes beyond healing skin:

  • Quickly metabolized – Increased energy levels
  • Improves coat
  • Improved digestion
  • Fatty acids help in cognitive decline
  • Parasite control
  • Bone health
  • Reduce allergic reactions
  • Prevents obesity

If adding coconut to your dog’s diet, Introduce gradually. Start with 1/4 teaspoon a day for small dogs and 1 tablespoon for bigger dogs once or twice a day.  More is not necessarily better. Too much coconut oil can cause diarrhea. You can also apply this to your dog’s cracked paws but do this before your dog sleeps at night to prevent your dog from slip-sliding around the house.  Ask your vet if coconut oil is right for your dog.

Baking Soda 

Baking soda is an effective anti-fungal and anti-microbial treatment that you can use on your pet. Make a paste of equal amounts of baking soda and water and apply it to your dog’s skin for 20 minutes and rinse.

alternatives to benadryl

In between wet baths, you can give your dog a dry bath by sprinkling a cup of baking soda in large dogs and half a cup for smaller dogs. Avoid the head. Gently massage it in then leave it on for a few minutes to let it absorb odors then gently brush it off to give your dog’s coat a refreshing feel. There’s no harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin. This also kills fleas naturally. Baking soda that falls on the floor while brushing your dog can be easily vacuumed. You can also do this outside the house for less clean up.  Baking soda sold in supermarkets contain aluminum. Try to buy aluminum-free baking soda from health stores. Ask your vet if baking soda is right for your dog.

Apple Cider Vinega

Mix 50/50 Apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray directly to rashes and itchy spots caused by yeast infections. Do not spray to open wounds. ACV is acidic and might sting.

You can also put this 50/50 mixture in your dog’s water bowl to support digestion and help with weight control. ACV makes your dog’s PH slightly acidic which naturally repels fleas.  Leave a bowl of plain water in case your pet refuses to drink the mixture. Spray this solution on your dog’s coat when going outdoors to prevent fleas and ticks.

alternatives to benadryl

It can also be used to clean your dog’s ears using the same 50/50 mixture. Simply soak a cotton ball in this mixture and gently clean inside your dog’s ears as far as you can see to kill harmful bacteria and yeast. Keep wiping until the cotton balls come out clean. Make sure to dry with a cotton pad.


Probiotics formulated for dogs can eliminate skin problems caused by food allergies. It helps the body fight pathogens by balancing gut bacteria and flourishing the gut with colonies of good bacteria while crowding out the bad bacteria and preventing them from causing havoc.

probiotics for dogs

You can also give yogurt to your dog several times a week. 1 teaspoon for small dogs and 2 teaspoons for larger dogs. You can give it directly or mix with their food.  Probiotics are beneficial for both humans and dogs.

Tips to reduce allergies in dogs

Invest in a high quality air purifier to reduce air pollutants

  1. Do not smoke around your dog
  2. Do not allow your dog to receive too many vaccines or medications to not over stimulate their immune systems
  3. Switch to organic/non-toxic cleaning products
  4. Give Probiotics to significantly reduce and prevent allergies
  5. Avoid feeding the most common food allergies in dogs which are dairy, beef, chicken, wheat and eggs
  6. Add leafy greens and canned sardines to your dog’s diet
  7. Use colloidal oatmeal shampoo or add ground oatmeal to its shampoo
  8. Do not use head and shoulders shampoo on your dog like I once did. Though it did make my dog’s fur soft, nice smelling and got rid of the “wet dog” smell,  it might dry out and alter the PH of the skin. The scent of human shampoo might be too strong for a dog’s sensitive nose
  9. Use Homeopathic medicine to treat allergies

All information in this post is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace your veterinarians’ advice.



Photo Credit: (Benadryl)  Tama Leaver Flickr via Wunderstock (license)(cc)

Image by Evita Ochel from Pixabay (Baking soda)

Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay  (apple cider)

8 thoughts on “Is Benadryl Safe for Dogs?”

  1. Surprisingly, almost all creatures are the same thing, I am a poultry farmer and this is the same thing that is being advocated in the poultry industry.

    There is a need to reduce over the counter drugs and use a natural method to rear animals, in the case of dogs you were looking at the side effect for dogs, but in poultry, we focus on the side effect for humans after consumption.
    Also, probiotics to play a lot of role in the animal are and they are far better than drugs,

  2. When it comes to my Shiro, I always consult my vets. I know that most human and dogs medicines are similar and we can probably use it for our fluffy friend but we have to think about the weight and height of our pets. Some dogs can be sensitive to certain drugs so I think it is best to play it safe. 

    Thank you for your suggestion on Quercetin. It is great to know that coconut oil can help as well 🙂 I am sure Shiro will lick all the oil lol

    Thank you for the tips 🙂

    • Hi Nuttanee, Im glad you found the article to be helpful. And yes, it is always a good idea to consult your vet before trying something new


  3. As someone who is interested in getting a dog, I have to say that this article exploring the safety of benadryl for dogs was helpful, particuarly the fact that you should not give time released capsules to dogs, which I did not know previously. Does this apply to all dogs or just partiucular breeds? 

  4. By the way I really enjoy your site because it takes care of dogs’ needs and I love my pet dog. It seems that Benadryl is safe for dogs if they do not have any pre existing health conditions but otherwise it can be harmful. In what ways has Benadryl helped your dog relieve him of allergies?


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