Can Antihistamines Assist Seasonal Canine Allergic reactions? Here is What to Know

The allergy season is back for people. As beautiful as flowers are, they bring allergens like pollen onto our clothes and shoes and, in turn, into our homes. In addition to causing coughs and sneezes, these allergens can affect our dogs as well.

Antihistamines like Benadryl are an over-the-counter solution for people with allergies. Sometimes pet parents give their dogs antihistamines when they notice they are showing symptoms of allergies.

“It is rare for a dog with true seasonal allergies to respond adequately with an over-the-counter antihistamine,” says Dr. Lara Wilson, DVM from Firehouse Animal Health.

But that doesn’t mean it’s never okay to give your dog an antihistamine. Dr. Wilson says there are some situations she can be helpful in, just not as many as she thinks the public often thinks. Dr. Wilson shared when to reach for Benadryl or ask your veterinarian about various solutions for your dog’s allergies.

When can I give Benadryl to my dog?

Antihistamines have their place in canine health care.

“They are helpful in acute allergic reactions, such as when a pet is vaccinated and then becomes lethargic or when they are on the farm and are bitten by ants or stung by a bee,” says Dr. Wilson.

They can also help with mild seasonal allergy symptoms.

“If it’s just sneezing or watery eyes, I could use Benadryl,” says Dr. Wilson.

Connected: Is Benadryl Safe For Dogs? What you should know about Benadryl for dogs

Why don’t antihistamines work for chronic seasonal dog allergies?

When people have seasonal allergies, they often sneeze, get watery eyes, and develop hay fever. Dogs can experience these things too, but typically, chronic seasonal allergies occur differently in our furbabies.

“Often they get severe itchy skin that can lead to a bacterial or fungal infection if they become inflamed, whatever they’re allergic to, like pollen,” says Dr. Wilson. “In this scenario, the over-the-counter antihistamines don’t really help. They don’t reduce the itchiness. “

Photo: Shutterstock.

How should I treat my dog’s seasonal allergies?

If you notice your dog showing signs of seasonal allergies, which may include sneezing and constant itching, contact your veterinarian. Dr. Wilson recommends informing your veterinarian about:

  • How old the pet was when symptoms started.
  • In which part of the pet’s body do symptoms appear.
  • Whether it seems to be seasonal or whether it is 24/7/365.
  • What medications does the pet take, especially against fleas and ticks?

Your veterinarian can then diagnose and prescribe treatment. Dr. Wilson believes that treating seasonal dog allergies has come a long way lately.

“In the past five to seven years we’ve seen more oral and injectable drugs that itch and treat the infection,” says Dr. Wilson.

Dr. Wilson often prescribes Apoquel to her puppy patients. The label for the oral drug contains some scary sounding side effects like lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Dr. However, Wilson advises patients not to worry too much. She has not yet had a dog that has had the drugs, and she believes they are safer than steroids, which are not compatible with all the medications a puppy needs, and the risk of muscle / joint changes and Cushing’s disease increase.

“If you read the Apoquel label it can look terrifying, but the safety studies are really extensive,” says Dr. Wilson.

Your veterinarian can also give you prescription topical treatments such as shampoos and wipes that can relieve the itchiness. Sometimes an over-the-counter solution works.

“For mild itchy / dry skin, aloe and oatmeal shampoos are great,” says Dr. Wilson.

She recommends keeping shampoos on your skin for 5 to 10 minutes.

“Remember to use a beauty product face mask for ourselves,” says Dr. Wilson.

Featured image: Shutterstock.

Continue reading: Can you give aspirin to a dog? Are Human Pain Relievers Safe For Dogs?

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