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Debarking Pet Myths: Giving Benadryl® or Claritin® to Pets

Welcome to another installment of “Debarking Pet Myths,” our monthly series that addresses common myths, misconceptions and old wives’ tales about dogs, cats and their nutrition.

A pet-related tidbit discovered on a website or a tip from a coworker can sometimes lead you in the wrong direction — unintentionally, of course. So to help you sort fact from fiction, we’ll be addressing common myths about dogs and cats, as well as shining a light on “knowledge” that pet owners only think they know. Be sure to check back every month!

It’s safe to give “people medicine,” like Benadryl or Claritin, to my dog.

Yes and no. Before you give any medication — whether an over-the-counter or prescription drug — to your dog (or cat), you need to discuss it with your veterinarian first.

Some human medicines can be given routinely — at your veterinarian’s direction — to your pets, but other drugs can be very toxic to pets. For example, your veterinarian may recommend giving your dog Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Claritin (loratadine) for allergies. But giving Benadryl-D (diphenhydramine and pseudoephedrine) or Claritin-D (loratadine and pseudoephedrine) instead may result in a trip to the veterinary hospital — or at least a call to an animal poison control center.

Always get specific instructions, including how much to give and how often, from your veterinarian. It may be safe to give a specific amount, as determined by your veterinarian. However, more medicine than recommended may cause unpleasant side effects, while not enough medicine may not relieve your dog’s symptoms.

Talking to your veterinarian and following his or her instructions are the best way to keep your best friend safe.

An interior graphic with text that reads, 'Debarking Pet Myths: It's safe to give 'people medicine' to my dog — Partially True'.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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