Luckily there are many things you can do to help your pet cope with allergies and keep symptoms at bay. But first let’s talk a bit about what an allergy actually is.
What Causes Allergies?
Most allergic reactions are the result of the body mistaking a harmless substance for something dangerous. When the body detects something harmful in its system it produces antibodies and begins trying to flush itself of the substance by releasing a substance known as “histamine” from mast cells. This leads to runny noses, itching and several other annoying symptoms. Different types of allergens tend to cause different symptoms.
If your dog is allergic to something in the air, for example, pollen, they may experience symptoms such as:
- Runny nose, sneezing or a blocked nose
- Teary eyes
If your pet is allergic to something which has come into contact with their skin, they will most likely experience these symptoms:
- Rashes or hives
- Itching around the affected area
If your dog is allergic to something they have eaten, for example, nuts, typical symptoms include the following:
- Rashes and hives
- Stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing (in severe cases)
If your pet has a severe reaction to any allergen their chest and airway could constrict so much that it begins to make breathing difficult. Severe reactions cause dogs to go into what is known as anaphylactic shock where they may experience a loss of balance and even collapse. Anaphylactic shock is a medical emergency and you should call for veterinary assistance immediately.
How Can I Use Benadryl For My Dog’s Allergies?
Benadryl is an antihistamine which means it’s effective at preventing the most common allergy symptoms, though you shouldn’t try giving any medicine to your dog if their airway is constricted.
The most common form of Benadryl contains diphenhydramine, though some formulations contain cetirizine instead (mainly outside of the United States). Cetirizine is also an effective antihistamine but is dosed slightly differently and is usually only used to treat dermatitis.
Diphenhydramine is usually given to dogs at a dose of 1 mg/lb body weight every 8 hours, but from time to time a dose of 2 mg/lb is used instead. Regular strength pills contain 25 mg, but smaller dogs may be better suited to children’s Benadryl which contains smaller amounts of active ingredient.
The most commonly recommended dose of cetirizine is as follows.
|Weight of dog||Dosage of cetirizine|
|0 – 15 lbs||5 mg (½ tablet)|
|16 – 39 lbs||10 mg (1 tablet)|
|40 lbs +||15 mg (1½ tablets)|
You should always give your vet a quick call before giving any medicine to your dog.
What Should I Do If My Dog Is Having A Severe Allergic Reaction?
Do not try to administer medicine orally if your dog is not able to breathe properly as the airway will be extremely tight. Instead call your vet immediately and take your pet to the nearest animal hospital.
During the journey to the hospital it’s important to remain as calm as possible to avoid traffic accidents.