If it is prescribed by the vet, yes you can give cough medicine to your dog. But if not, never “self-medicate” your dog. You can do more harm than good.
Always ask your vet if a certain medicine for humans is safe for your dog. Some medicine for humans contain ingredients that are harmful to pets or contain too much of a certain ingredient that can cause an illness or lead to death.
Pet owners have been asking if they can give cough syrup to their dogs, specially the most common one called Benadryl.
Benadryl, also known by its generic name, diphenhydramine, is one of the few over-the-counter drugs that some veterinarians have prescribed for dogs. I would strongly suggest you use cough medicine specially formulated for dogs instead of cough meds developed for humans. Your vet knows the cough meds produced specifically for dogs.
In “Can I Give My Dog Benadryl and If So, How Much?” in PetMD, Dr. Jessica Vogelsang said:
“It’s always best to contact your veterinarian for guidance before administering any medication to your pet, including Benadryl.”
Benadryl can interact with other medicine that your pet may be taking such as anticoagulants and depressants for the nervous system. You can not give Benadryl without consulting your vet.
“While Benadryl is generally well tolerated by dogs and has a wide safety margin, it’s not necessarily the answer to your dog’s issue. Find out when Benadryl is effective and safe and when your dog needs a different treatment,” said Vogelsang.
Here are a few things to consider before giving your dog Benadryl, said Vogelsang:
1. Benadryl for Anxiety?
Some owners want to give Benadryl to dogs to ease anxiety during travels or when dogs are scared of fireworks and thunderstorms.
“Benadryl has some efficacy in the prevention of motion sickness in dogs and as a mild sedative, but the effects are not the same as with people,” Vogelsand said.
“If your dog has anxiety, it’s best to talk with your veterinarian to determine a course of treatment, as it might involve making changes to your dog’s environment, behavioral training, or tools such as anxiety vests and pheronomes,” Vogelsang added.
She also stressed that a small percentage of dogs and cats can have the opposite reaction to Benadryl. They can become hyperactive instead of being sleepy or calm. If your vet will give the go signal to give Benadryl, try it at home first to avoid problems during travel.
Not all dogs or cats do not like travelling, so there is no need to give Benadryl to all dogs or cats. Also, I have always advised against giving drugs or chemical-based meds to pets. These can damage the liver and kidneys of your dog. If you can avoid this, it is always better for your dog.
If you need to calm your dog or pet during travels, during New Year’s eve, or thunderstorm, please ask your vet to prescribe a plant-based calming tablet or medicine with pure or more natural ingredients than chemicals. There are some such medicine in the market now.
2. Benadryl for Dog Allergies?
Benadryl is “an antihistamine that blocks the H-1 receptors on smooth muscle and blood vessels. Taken orally, Benadryl can be mild to moderately effective for dogs experiencing mild allergic symptoms,” said Vogelsang.
“Vets commonly use it to treat environmental allergies and allergic reactions to insect bites or stings. It can also be used as a pre-treatment for possible vaccine reactions,” she said.
But your pet needs to be brought to the vet immediately if she is having an acute allergic reaction with facial swelling or difficulty in breathing.
“Many allergic diseases also require a combination of allergy medicine and treatment of underlying infections,” Vogelsang said.
3. Benadryl Safety Alert: Which Dogs Can’t Have It?
Vogelsang said Benadryl is “very well-tolerated in dogs with few side effects. It remains one of the safest over-the-counter drugs that veterinarians frequently reach for and recommend for their canine patients.”
“But the reason why you still need to check with your veterinarian is to ensure that it is safe for your dog to take Benadryl because there are safety risks if your dog has certain health conditions,” Vogelsang said.
4. Benadryl Dosage for Dogs
For dogs, the standard dosage for oral Benadryl is one (1) mg per pound of body weight, given two to three times a day. Most diphenhydramine tablets are 25 mg, which is the size used for a 25-pound do, Vogelsang said.
“But the safest way to give the proper dose is to ask your veterinarian. In addition, many formulations are combined with other medications…so make sure Benadryl tablets contain only diphenhydramine,” Vogelsand said.
However, it is best to avoid giving Benadryl and other chemical-based meds. Remember that chemicals damage the liver and kidneys. You dogs are of special concern as their organs are much smaller than ours.
Always ask your vet for a liver and kidney protectant for your dog while you are giving chemical-based meds, especially antibiotics, to your dogs.
It is also best to prevent illnesses by keeping the environment clean to avoid allergies and provide good food and multivitamins to keep the immune system strong so that you can avoid cough and respiratory problems in your dog.