Can You Give a German Shepherd Benadryl? (Safe Dosage)


German Shepherd with Benadryl tablets in blister pack

Many of us have experienced the occasional bee sting or allergic reaction to any number of the different allergens that we are all constantly being exposed to. When this happens, we often reach for a Benadryl to make things better.

But what if the same thing happens to our beloved German Shepherd companions – can you give a German Shepherd Benadryl?

Benadryl, when properly dosed, can provide your German Shepherd with effective relief from seasonal allergies, insect stings, anxiety, and other mild issues. However, drug interactions, improper dosing, and side effects can potentially cause harm or even death in a dog. Therefore, do not administer Benadryl to your dog without consulting your veterinarian.

In this article we will clearly explain to you when Benadryl is an effective, safe treatment for you German Shepherd – or when it may be best to go with medicine-free options. 

What Exactly Is Benadryl?

BenadrylOpens in a new tab., also known by its generic name, diphenhydramine, is an antihistamineOpens in a new tab. commonly used to treat allergies, car sickness, and other mild symptoms.

  • Generic name: DiphenhydramineOpens in a new tab.
  •  Brand names: Genahist, Sominex, Unisom, Banophen, Vetadryl
  •  Forms: oral tablets, oral chewable tablets, oral liquid-filled capsules (liqui-gels), oral liquid, topical, injection

There are many off-brands of Benadryl. Always check with your veterinarian before introducing or switching medication, even if you can purchase them over the counter.

How Does Benadryl Work?

When your German Shepherd is stung by a bee and suffers an allergic reaction, his body is experiencing a histamine chemical release. Itchiness and inflammation begin as the histamine attaches to H-1 receptors.

Benadryl (or diphenhydramine) works by blocking the H-1 receptors and reducing the effects of histamine.

For motion sickness, the antihistamines in Benadryl block the brain impulses that control nausea and vomiting.

What Is Benadryl Used For?

Benadryl is a popular, well-tolerated drug used in dogs experiencing a variety of symptoms. Let’s take a look at what a German Shepherd owner might consider using Benadryl for:

Insect Stings

German Shepherds are known for being an energetic, curious breed of dog. They love running and playing in the yard, sniffing rose bushes, and exploring during hikes.

It’s only natural for your pup to be stung by a bee or bitten by ants while gallivanting around, doing things dogs do.

Dogs can be stung or bitten anywhere, but it’s typically on their paws, mouth, or face.

If you can find the sting site, remove the stinger with a credit card – not tweezers – preventing any further venom from going into your dog.

Car Sickness

Traveling with a GSD that gets car sick can be quite the challenge and can take away from what should otherwise be an enjoyable, exciting adventure – or even ruin it completely.

If you want to take your loyal canine companion to the dog park or on a hike but don’t because he gets motion sickness in the car, Benadryl is one option.

Just make sure to provide him with the proper dose before hopping in the car so that the medicine is effective.

Anxiety

Dogs can experience anxiety during high-stress situations. Maybe your German Shepherd is terrified of thunder or scared to death when fireworks go off. Benadryl’s calming ingredients help soothe your dog during stressful situations.

However, before heading to the medicine cabinet, talk with your vet.

Controlling your GSD’s anxiety may be resolved with behavioral training or adjusting his environment. It’s beneficial for you and your dog to explore all options before becoming dependent on Benadryl to treat anxiety.

Seasonal Allergies

Like humans, GSDs can experience all kinds of seasonal or environment-related allergies.

It’s not always easy to recognize the source right away, but through a bit of investigating, you may be able to figure out what exactly your GSD is allergic to.

The elimination process might be tedious but worth it in the long run for both you and your loyal companion.

Consider the following examples:

  • Could it be the laundry detergent you use? Are you using an all-natural, chemical-free detergent?
  •  What shampooOpens in a new tab. do you use when bathing your German Shepherd?
  • Can you figure out if you have mold or dust mites in the house? These are common allergens.
  • Perfume and candles can cause allergies in your German Shepherd.
  • Burning incense has been proven to be bad for dogs in more ways than just being allergic to them (see below).

Or it could be chronic allergies. In that case, your vet may recommend Benadryl.

If you find that your German Shepherd is allergic to candles, you may just be using the wrong type of candle. Most candles are made from paraffin, which is a petroleum product that contains carcinogens and can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms in your dog.

Instead, try using soy or beeswax candles. Both of these types of candles burn clean and are non-toxic to both humans and animals. We’ve provided a few for you below that you can check out on Amazon.

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Scented Soy Candle

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Candle by the Hour 48-Hour Tall CandleOpens in a new tab.

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Be sure to also check out the informative post below on burning incense around your dog. It’s an eye opening article that will make you think twice before burning incense around your German Shepherd:

Is Burning Incense Bad for Dogs?

Food Allergies

Food allergies can cause discomfort in GSDs. If you know your GSD is allergic to certain types of foods, then, of course, you probably keep them far away to be safe.

However, there are certainly times when your dog gets into something they shouldn’t, or you introduce a new food, and that’s all it takes – you realize your dog has food allergies.

Benadryl should only be used as a one-time solution in that case. It’s much easier to change your dog’s diet than to rely on an over the counter medication.

What Symptoms in GSDs Can Be Treated With Benadryl?

Benadryl can be an effective treatment, but it’s essential to recognize and monitor your furry friend’s symptoms so that you can take care of him at home or know if it’s an emergency-vet situation.

Mild symptoms are usually not a cause for immediate concern and can likely be treated at home. Severe symptoms are life-threatening and require immediate attention.

German Shepherd sneezing

Mild Symptoms:

  • Coughing 
  • Sneezing
  • Itchiness
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Hives

Severe Symptoms Requiring Immediate Medical Attention:

  • Facial swelling
  • Extreme itching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anaphylactic shock

Note that Benadryl is only to be used for mild to moderate allergic reactions.

Contact your vet immediately and take your GSD to the emergency vet if they experience any of the life-threatening severe symptoms listed above.

Dosing

So your German Shepherd has uncomfortable symptoms after a bee sting, or maybe he is suffering from seasonal allergies. Or, perhaps you want to take your best canine friend on a road trip and don’t want him to get sick.

Benadryl can help – but always discuss the proper dosage with your veterinarian as the guidelines here are general, and as humans, every German Shepherd is different.

The proper dose of Benadryl depends on your dog’s weight. The general guidelines for dogs: a maximum dosage of 1 milligram per pound of body weight, given every 8-12 hours, two to three times a day. Most generic and brand name diphenhydramine tablets are 25 milligrams.

So, if your German Shepherd weighs 50 pounds, two 25 milligram tablets are the correct dose.

General Guidelines for Giving Your German Shepherd Benadryl

  • Tablet: Always read the label to make sure that you are giving your GSD the proper dosage. Typically, one Benadryl tablet has 25 mg of diphenhydramine. Dogs need one 25 mg tablet for every 25 pounds of body weight, or whatever your vet recommends.
  • Liquid: Avoid giving Benadryl in liquid form as it contains alcohol, making it toxic to dogs. Children’s liquid formula is safer if you must use a liquid.
  • Topical: Before applying topical Benadryl on your dog, make sure to test a small area to make sure he is not allergic. If you are treating your dog with oral Benadryl, do apply topical Benadryl as well as it could result in an overdose.
  • Injection: Your vet will administer injectable Benadryl if needed. The available doses are 10 mg/ml and 50 mg/ml.

When Will Benadryl Begin Working?

Your GSD should start feeling relief 30 minutes after you give them Benadryl.

If you know you are taking your pup in the car or he will be around allergens, consider this so that the Benadryl has enough time to work.

What If My German Shepherd Won’t Take Benadryl?

German Shepherds, much like children, might decide they do not want to take their medicine.

You can mix Benadryl in with wet or dry food so that your beloved pet doesn’t even notice they are taking medicine.

When to Avoid Giving Benadryl to German Shepherds 

As with any medicine, Benadryl can be useful or dangerous, depending on the circumstances. It may not be safe to give your German Shepherd Benadryl. It’s imperative to understand when giving your pup Benadryl is harmful.

Pregnant or Nursing

If your German Shepherd is pregnant or nursing, do not give her Benadryl. Consult your vet for further instructions.

Drug Interactions 

Ensure that the Benadryl you are giving your dog contains only diphenhydramine and is not combined with other drugs such as Tylenol as it can cause harmful side effects. 

If your dog takes tricyclic antidepressants, anticholinergic drugs, or anticoagulants, you must speak to your vet before administering Benadryl.

While you might think you are helping your dog, you could cause harm or even death by combining medications. If your GSD is on any medication at all, it’s best to consult with your vet.

Underlying Conditions

Your GSD may have other conditions, such as glaucoma, diabetes, or heart disease, and Benadryl may not be safe for him to take. If this is the case, be sure to consult with your vet.

Side Effects and Dangers of Benadryl

After giving your German Shepherd Benadryl, especially if it’s the first time, you will want to closely monitor her for the first hour after taking medicine.

Side Effects Can Be Mild to Severe

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea (rare)

Signs of Benadryl Overdose

  • Constipation
  • Agitation
  • Seizures
  • Dilated Pupils

Typically, a severe reaction to Benadryl will occur after the first hour, so monitor your German Shepherd closely.

Contact your veterinarian immediately or head straight to an emergency vet if you think your German Shepherd is having a severe reaction to Benadryl. 

Other Dangers

  • Improper dosing
  • Length of time GSD is medicated.

Natural Alternative Treatments to Benadryl

If your German Shepherd has health issues or you do not want to risk any harmful side effects, there are medicine-free options.

Baking Soda

Baking soda helps relieve your dog’s itchy, red skin – and you probably already have it in your kitchen pantry.

It’s quick and easy to make a paste. Simply add a bit of water to baking soda to make a paste and then apply it to the affected area.

Some GSD’s will immediately try to lick off the baking soda paste. You can easily cover it up with a wrap or, if needed, make your dog wear a cone so that the baking soda can do its thing.

Quercetin

Quercetin, often referred to as “nature’s Benadryl,” is a plant-based flavonoid with anti-inflammatory properties that have been proven to relieve itchiness and other allergy-related irritation.

Quercetin works by reducing histamine levels in your dog, resulting in less itchiness and inflammation.

You can give your German Shepherd Quercetin in tablet form, and many GSD owners find that Amazing Nutrition’s Quercetin 800 Mg with Bromelain is a very useful supplement to ward off severe allergies. For a dog the size of an adult German Shepherd, 2 of tablets a day does the trick!

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Quercetin, although natural, can be dangerous when combined with other medications, so be sure to ask your vet to make sure Quercetin is a safe option for your German Shepherd.

Final Thoughts

When given to your German Shepherd properly, Benadryl provides relief from insect bites, soothes anxiety, and controls motion sickness.

The popular over the counter drug can be an effective treatment. However, always read labels and talk with your vet before giving your German Shepherd any medication.

Jennifer Charles

As an avid dog lover and word enthusiast, I am passionate about researching and writing about our loyal canine companions, who bring us so much joy. There’s a reason dogs make wonderful family pets, police dogs, and therapy pets - they are loyal, caring, protective, and the ultimate best friend. It’s so important that we return the love with the best possible care. I love to share tips and tricks, best practices, and health-related information for fellow dog lovers. When I am not writing, I am hanging out with my husband, three kids, and two dogs.

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