Benadryl vs Apoquel for Dogs?

Apoquel is a medication approved by the FDA to treat itching and scratching that comes along with atopic and allergic dermatitis. In some situations, Apoquel is more practical than using Benadryl. But is it okay to use Benadryl instead of Apoquel?

Apoquel vs Benadryl for Dogs

Can I use Benadryl instead of Apoquel?

Yes, Benadryl can be used as a substitute for Apoquel in mild cases.

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 buy Apoquel without a vet prescription?

You cannot buy Apoquel without a prescription from your vet.

If your dog is suffering from mild allergies, 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 allergies?

The correct dosage of Benadryl for dogs is 1 mg per pound of body 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 and medications.

How long does it take for Benadryl to work on 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 to see results, but you should notice some improvement within a few hours or so.

Why is Benadryl not helping my dog?

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.

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.

Benadryl alternative for dogs

Antihistamines are commonly used to treat mild allergies in dogs, but they are not the best treatment options.

  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 artificial flavors. Some of these may cause additional complications like increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Can I give my dog Benadryl allergy plus congestion?

No. Decongestants, such as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine, can be deadly to pets.

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.

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

Conclusion of Benadryl vs Apoquel for dogs

The battle of Benadryl vs Apoquel is not a simple one. Apoquel’s effectiveness is proven in studies and can be used long-term without negative effects. However, it does come with a higher price tag and it isn’t for all dogs.

Benadryl is cheap and easy to find. It’s usually safe for most dogs but doesn’t treat the underlying cause of your dog’s itchiness.

My personal recommendation is Apoquel for the most serious cases of chronic itching. If your dog doesn’t respond to it or if he suffers from side effects, Benadryl may be an effective backup option (assuming your dog does not have any contraindications).

The bottom line is that the drug you choose for your dog depends on what symptoms your pet is showing and how severe they are. If your dog is suffering from mild allergic reactions, then Benadryl may be the answer. If your dog has atopic and allergic dermatitis or is suffering from a more severe itch, then Apoquel may be the only thing that provides relief.



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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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