A common question for pet owners is: can I use Benadryl for food allergies in dogs? The answer, thankfully, is yes, Benadryl is an excellent antihistamine medication and although it was originally designed for human allergies, it can successfully be used to treat the symptoms of allergies in dogs.
What is Benadryl?
Benadryl is the well-known brand name for Diphenhydramine hydrochloride, a drug that was developed in the 1970s to treat the symptoms of allergies in humans. As a first generation antihistamine, Benadryl was discovered to cause a number of unexpected side effects, including drowsiness and the ability to prevent vomiting and sickness.
Today, these qualities are the very reason why many pet owners choose Benadryl as a medication for the treatment of travel sickness in dogs and cats. Benadryl can also be used as a mild tranquiliser for long journeys and stressful events in a dog’s life.
Is it safe to use Benadryl for food allergies in dogs?
Like people, dogs suffer from common food allergies and intolerance to certain ingredients. Sometimes the allergic reaction is immediate, which makes it easy to pinpoint the trigger, but in other cases the reaction is delayed. In severe cases, the result of exposure to a food allergen can result in anaphylactic shock, which can kill a dog if it is not treated immediately. But no matter what the cause is, an effective treatment that can reduce the nasty symptoms of food allergies in dogs is essential.
Benadryl is ideal for reducing the unpleasant symptoms of a food allergy in dogs. In some dogs, the symptoms of a food allergy are fairly mild and might only be a slight skin rash or itchy patch of skin. In more severe cases, the hypersensitivity is so acute that the symptoms are systemic and the dog becomes very ill with severe facial swelling and an upset digestive system.
Common causes of food allergies in dogs include beef, dairy products and gluten. Food intolerances often develop over time and the symptoms can be extremely vague in the beginning: weight loss, a lack of energy, slight skin irritations. Unfortunately, each time the offending food is eaten, more antibodies are produced by the dog’s immune system and the symptoms worsen unless the source of the allergy is removed.
With food allergies in dogs, a strict diet is the only way to control exposure to the food that is the root cause of the problem. However, whilst this will cure the problem in the long run, the symptoms of the allergy need to be dealt with in the short term, which is where Benadryl has proven extremely useful.
An antihistamine medication such as Benadryl can help to reduce the localized itching and swelling caused by intolerance to certain foodstuffs such as protein, beef or gluten. When the dog is affected by severe contact dermatitis, careful treatment with Benadryl will calm down the excessive itching and allow the affected skin to heal. Hypoallergenic shampoos will also help by reducing the levels of antigens on the skin. Your dog may also require a course of antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection has developed.