Can I Give My Dog Hydroxyzine?

Hydroxyzine, a medication more commonly associated with human use, is making its way into the pet world, offering relief for many furry friends. But as a responsible pet owner, you might have questions like “Can I give my dog hydroxyzine?”, “What are its side effects?”, or “How much is the right dosage?”.

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FAQs on Hydroxyzine for Dogs

What is Hydroxyzine?

Hydroxyzine is primarily an antihistamine. Antihistamines are drugs that combat allergic reactions by blocking or reducing histamines, chemicals produced by the body during an allergic reaction.

Uses in Veterinary Medicine: Hydroxyzine is mainly used to control itching due to conditions like atopic dermatitis in dogs and cats. It’s a popular choice among vets for its dual properties: antihistamine and sedative.

Hydroxyzine Dosage for Dogs

The recommended dosage for dogs typically ranges from 0.5 to 2 mg per pound, given every 8 to 12 hours. However, this is a general guideline and might vary depending on individual needs and specific conditions.

For instance, for an 80-pound dog, the dose could be about 75 mg. But always consult with your veterinarian before determining the right dosage for your pet.

Hydroxyzine vs. Other Medications

There are a lot of medications available on the market. One common query is the comparison between Hydroxyzine and Benadryl. Both are antihistamines, but they have different active ingredients. While Benadryl contains diphenhydramine, Hydroxyzine has its unique compounds. A key difference is that hydroxyzine can also have sedative effects.

Side Effects and Concerns

Like all medications, Hydroxyzine can have side effects:

  1. Drowsiness: The most common side effect.
  2. Dry mouth
  3. Urinary retention

Rarely, at higher doses, fine tremors or even seizures might occur. If your dog shows any adverse reactions, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Overdosing Concerns: While Hydroxyzine is generally safe, an overdose can lead to severe sedation. If your pet has consumed more than the prescribed amount or shows signs of distress, seek emergency veterinary care.


Hydroxyzine, while primarily a human medication, is deemed safe for pets under veterinary guidance. It offers much-needed relief from itching and allergic reactions. However, like all drugs, it’s essential to use it responsibly. Always maintain open communication with your vet, observe your pet for any adverse reactions, and store medications out of their reach.

FAQs on Hydroxyzine for Dogs

Q1: Can hydroxyzine be used to treat anxiety in dogs?

Answer: Yes, hydroxyzine can be used to treat anxiety in dogs due to its sedative properties. However, it’s crucial to understand that its primary function is as an antihistamine. For chronic anxiety issues, consult with your veterinarian for more targeted treatments.

Q2: Are the hydroxyzine medications for dogs and humans the same?

Answer: While the active ingredient in hydroxyzine is the same for both humans and dogs, the formulation and dosage might differ. Never give your dog hydroxyzine intended for human use without consulting a vet.

Q3: Will hydroxyzine make my dog sleepy?

Answer: One of the common side effects of hydroxyzine is drowsiness. It’s due to its sedative properties. Some dogs might feel more lethargic than others after taking the medication. Monitor your pet after administering the drug and ensure they’re in a comfortable environment.

Q4: How does hydroxyzine compare to other antihistamines like Benadryl or Claritin for dogs?

Answer: Hydroxyzine, Benadryl (diphenhydramine), and Claritin (loratadine) are all antihistamines but have different active compounds. Hydroxyzine can be more sedating than the other two. While all three can be used to treat allergies in dogs, the choice often depends on the specific condition being treated and the dog’s overall health.

Q5: Are there any known long-term effects of using hydroxyzine in dogs?

Answer: Prolonged use of hydroxyzine, like with many medications, can potentially lead to some side effects. These might include gastrointestinal disturbances or increased heart rate. Regular check-ups with your vet are crucial if your dog is on a long-term medication plan.

Q6: How quickly can I expect to see results after administering hydroxyzine to my dog?

Answer: The effects of hydroxyzine, particularly its antipruritic (anti-itch) properties, can be seen within a few hours of administration. The sedative effects might be noticeable sooner, depending on the dosage and the individual dog.

Q7: Are there any specific breeds or age groups of dogs that shouldn’t take hydroxyzine?

Answer: Hydroxyzine is generally safe for all breeds when administered correctly. However, older dogs or those with existing health issues might require a modified dosage or might be better suited to an alternative medication. Always provide your vet with a full health history before starting any new drug.

Q8: Can hydroxyzine be given to pregnant or nursing dogs?

Answer: The safety of hydroxyzine in pregnant or nursing dogs hasn’t been conclusively established. If your dog is pregnant, nursing, or you plan to breed, discuss with your vet before administering the medication.

Q9: What should I do if I miss giving a dose to my dog?

Answer: If you miss a dose, give it as soon as you remember. If it’s close to the time for the next dose, skip the missed one and resume the regular schedule. Avoid giving two doses at once to make up for a missed one.

Q10: Can I stop giving hydroxyzine abruptly, or does my dog need to be weaned off?

Answer: It’s usually safe to stop hydroxyzine abruptly, especially if it’s been given for a short period. However, for long-term usage or in combination with other drugs, consult your vet about the best way to discontinue.

Q11: How does hydroxyzine interact with other medications my dog might be taking?

Answer: Hydroxyzine can interact with certain medications, including alcohol, other sedatives, or corticosteroids. Such interactions can amplify the sedative effect of hydroxyzine. Always inform your vet about all the medications and supplements your dog is on before introducing hydroxyzine.

Q12: How should I store hydroxyzine for dogs?

Answer: Store hydroxyzine at room temperature, away from moisture and direct sunlight. Ensure it’s kept out of reach from pets and children. Never store in a bathroom or areas with fluctuating temperatures.

Q13: Are there any specific signs of hydroxyzine overdose in dogs?

Answer: Signs might include excessive sedation, vomiting, tremors, or difficulty breathing. If you suspect an overdose, seek emergency veterinary care immediately and provide them with all pertinent information.

Q14: Can hydroxyzine be used as a long-term solution for skin allergies in dogs?

Answer: While hydroxyzine can effectively manage symptoms of skin allergies, it’s not a cure. Long-term use should be paired with efforts to identify and minimize exposure to the allergen causing the reaction. Regular vet check-ups are essential to monitor potential side effects and efficacy.

Q15: Is there a possibility of my dog developing a tolerance to hydroxyzine?

Answer: Tolerance refers to needing a higher dose to achieve the same effects over time. While tolerance to hydroxyzine is not common in dogs, it’s essential to maintain consistent vet supervision and never increase the dose without veterinary guidance.

Q16: Are there natural alternatives to hydroxyzine for treating allergies in dogs?

Answer: Some pet owners opt for natural remedies like quercetin, oat baths, or omega-3 fatty acids. However, the efficacy of natural treatments can vary. It’s important to discuss any alternatives with your vet to ensure safety and potential interactions.

Q17: How long does it take for hydroxyzine to get out of a dog’s system?

Answer: The exact time can vary depending on several factors, including the dog’s metabolism and overall health. However, most of the drug typically leaves a dog’s system within 24-48 hours after the last dose.

Q18: Can hydroxyzine be used in conjunction with a special diet or hypoallergenic food?

Answer: Absolutely. In fact, combining hydroxyzine with a hypoallergenic diet can be an effective way to manage food allergies in dogs. Always consult with your vet about the best nutritional choices for your pet.

Q19: If my dog shows no improvement after taking hydroxyzine, what could be the next steps?

Answer: If there’s no improvement, it might mean the primary cause isn’t being addressed or another condition is present. It’s essential to revisit the vet, re-evaluate the diagnosis, and consider other potential treatments or diagnostic tests.

Q20: How is the dosage of hydroxyzine determined for dogs?

Answer: Dosage is usually based on the dog’s weight, the condition being treated, the dog’s overall health, and the medication’s specific formulation. Your veterinarian will provide precise dosing instructions tailored to your pet’s needs.

Q21: Can hydroxyzine cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs?

Answer: Like many medications, hydroxyzine can occasionally lead to gastrointestinal disturbances, such as nausea or diarrhea. If these symptoms persist or are severe, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for possible adjustments or alternative treatments.

Q22: Are there breeds more sensitive to hydroxyzine than others?

Answer: While there’s no specific breed known for increased sensitivity, individual dogs, just like humans, can have varied reactions to medications. Always monitor your dog closely when starting a new medication and report any unusual behavior to your vet.

Q23: Can hydroxyzine be used in pregnant or nursing dogs?

Answer: The effects of hydroxyzine on pregnancy and lactation in dogs haven’t been thoroughly studied. As a precaution, it’s usually advised to avoid its use in pregnant or nursing dogs unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks. Consult your vet before administering.

Q24: What happens if I accidentally skip a dose?

Answer: If you miss a dose, administer it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the next scheduled dose, skip the missed one and continue with the regular schedule. Do not double the dose to compensate for the missed one.

Q25: Can hydroxyzine be used alongside behavioral training for anxiety in dogs?

Answer: Yes, hydroxyzine can be part of a comprehensive plan that includes behavioral modifications or training. For anxiety-related issues, combining medical treatment with training can often lead to more favorable outcomes.

Q26: Are there any tests required before starting my dog on hydroxyzine?

Answer: While no specific tests are mandatory, a comprehensive check-up, including a full blood panel, can be beneficial. It ensures the dog doesn’t have underlying conditions that might make the use of hydroxyzine inappropriate.

Q27: How should I handle potential side effects?

Answer: If you notice mild side effects, like temporary drowsiness, you might observe your dog and ensure they have a quiet resting place. For more severe reactions or if side effects persist, immediately contact your veterinarian for guidance.

Q28: Can a dog build dependency on hydroxyzine?

Answer: No, hydroxyzine doesn’t cause physical dependency in dogs. However, abruptly stopping the medication, especially if used for anxiety, can cause symptoms to return. Always discuss any changes in medication with your veterinarian.

Q29: What should I do if my dog shows signs of an allergic reaction to hydroxyzine?

Answer: An allergic reaction can manifest as hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. If these occur, discontinue the medication and seek emergency veterinary care immediately.

Q30: Is hydroxyzine effective for all types of allergies in dogs?

Answer: Hydroxyzine primarily addresses symptoms and not root causes. It’s more effective against certain allergies, such as those caused by environmental factors, than others like food allergies. An accurate diagnosis and understanding of the cause of the allergy are crucial for effective treatment.

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