Can I Give My Dog Benadryl for Allergies Instead of Apoquel?

Apoquel is a medication approved by the FDA to treat itching and scratching that comes along with atopy, a skin condition commonly recognized as canine “allergies.” In some situations, Apoquel is more practical than using Benadryl. But is it okay to use Benadryl instead of Apoquel?

Can I use Benadryl instead of Apoquel?

Yes, Benadryl (diphenhydramine) can be used as a substitute for Apoquel (Oclacitinib citrate).

It is important to remember that Benadryl is intended for use in humans. Though Benadryl is available over-the-counter without a prescription, many of its possible side effects and interactions with other drugs and supplements can be harmful if used incorrectly in animals.

Can I give my dog Benadryl allergy plus congestion?

No. Decongestants, such as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine, can be deadly. We do not recommend giving any medication to your pet without the advice of your vet.

If you are interested in using herbal supplements, consider using a variety of herbs that have traditionally been used to aid breathing such as mullein, licorice root and elecampane root. You can find these in most health stores or online.

Can I buy Apoquel without a vet prescription?

You cannot buy Apoquel without a prescription from your vet. Apoquel is a prescription only drug, and it’s not available over the counter.

If your dog is suffering from allergies or itching, you can try using Benadryl to help ease the symptoms. However, keep in mind that Benadryl is not a cure for allergies, but rather a treatment that helps relieve symptoms. If you use Benadryl for longer than two weeks, it might be best to talk to your vet about other treatment options as it may cause liver damage if used every day for an extended period of time.

How much Benadryl can I give my dog for skin allergies?

The correct dosage of Benadryl for dogs depends on the size of your pet. A common dosage for dogs suffering from skin allergies is 1 mg per pound of weight every 8 to 12 hours.

  • A 30-pound dog would receive 30 mg of Benadryl
  • A 40-pound dog would receive 40 mg of Benadryl
  • A 50-pound dog would receive 50 mg of Benadryl

As a general rule, pet owners should always follow their veterinarian’s advice when it comes to their pet’s health care and medications. Always read the medication label carefully and follow the instructions given by your veterinarian or pharmacist when administering medication to your pet. Even if you have administered the same medication before, take time to read the updated information on how much is safe to give your pet.

How long does it take for Benadryl to work in dogs?

Benadryl can take between 1 and 2 hours to become effective. Dogs will typically begin feeling the effects of the medication within this time frame. It may take a little longer than 1-2 hours to see results, but you should notice some improvement within a few hours or so.

Why is Benadryl not helping my dog?

The active ingredient in Benadryl is diphenhydramine HCL, which is a histamine blocker. Histamine is a chemical released by the immune system to help with allergic reactions. When histamine is released, it causes inflammation, itching and redness of the skin and underlying tissue.

Diphenhydramine inhibits the release of histamine, so Benadryl can reduce some of these symptoms but doesn’t treat the underlying cause. It may take a few hours for this medication to start working; you should see improvement in his symptoms within 2 hours. If he’s still having problems after that time frame, you may need to give another dose (make sure to wait at least 8 hours before giving another dose).

Benadryl alternative for dogs

Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergies in dogs, but they are not the best treatment options. Antihistamines mainly work by inhibiting histamine receptors, which can help provide relief from the itch, redness, and swelling associated with some allergic reactions.

  1. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
  2. Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  3. Fexofenadine (Allegra)
  4. Loratadine (Claritin)
  5. Clemastine (Tavegyl)
  6. Chlorpheniramine (ChlorTrimeton)
  7. Cyproheptadine (Periactin)
  8. Hydroxyzine (Atarax)
  9. Terfenadine (Seldane)
  10. Trimeprazine (Temaril-P)

When choosing an antihistamine for a dog with allergies, it’s important to read the label carefully. Most over-the-counter antihistamines contain ingredients that are not safe for dogs; these include decongestants and sedating agents. Some of these may cause additional complications like increased heart rate and blood pressure as well as urinary retention in dogs.

What can I put on my dog to relieve itching?

If your dog is itching and scratching a lot, it’s never a bad idea to have some itch remedies. Even if the cause behind the itchiness isn’t apparent, there are ways to help relieve these symptoms.

  1. YuDERM Itching Dog| Itchy or Sensitive Skin Supplement for Dogs Prone to Scratching
  2. Leucillin Natural Antiseptic Spray | Antibacterial, Antifungal & Antiviral
  3. Vetericyn Wound and Skincare – Liquid Spray
  4. Pro Pooch Itchy Skin Dog Balm – For Dogs with Sensitive Skin – Helps Relieve Itching & Symptoms of Other Dry Skin Conditions
  5. Cooper & Gracie First Aid Antibacterial Itchy Skin Cream
  6. Anicura Natural Dog Gel Ointment for dry & itchy skin, hot spots, eczema & skin allergies
  7. Dog Skin Balm for Itchy Skin – Natural and Organic Ointment for Dogs – Itchy Dog Balm Safe for Licking
  8. Colloidal Silver Antiseptic Spray All-in-1 Treatment: Dogs & Cats – Skin Issues Relief (Itchy, Allergy, hotspot, Yeast, Dry)
  9. Petnat Dermacton Cream for ITCHY Dogs – Professionally recommended for itching & hair loss
  10. Davis Hydrocortisone Spray Pets



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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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