what does benadryl do for cats

What is diphenhydramine? Diphenhydramine (brand name: Benadryl®, Vetadryl®, Banophen®, Genahist®, Diphenhist®, Unisom®, Sominex ®) is an antihistamine used in cats, dogs, ferrets and other small mammals, birds, horses, and cattle to treat allergic reactions, motion sickness, and vomiting.

Dosage for Benadryl in Cats

Since diphenhydramine is not approved for use in cats, most veterinarians will dose their patients using a combination of recommended doses and real-world experience. The doses listed in the VIN Veterinary Drug Handbook range from 1-4 mg per kilogram of body weight.

In veterinary hospitals, it can be administered intravenously or orally. If you’re thinking about getting your cat Benadryl, you should speak with your veterinarian because there are a lot of oral formulations available. Many over-the-counter products for humans are either extended-release formulas or contain extra medications, which are both bad choices.

Cats may find the taste of human liquid formulas highly disagreeable, and many find that the “standard” 25 mg capsules are too big. Due to these factors, a lot of pet parents opt to use either 12 For precise dosage in cats, use scored 25 mg tablets or 5 mg capsules.

It is never advisable to split or break unscored tablets in order to administer medication because this could cause an inadvertent over- or under-dosing.

Is Benadryl the Best Medication for Cat Allergies?

While cats with chronic environmental allergies may occasionally benefit from diphenhydramine treatment, antihistamine use in cats is highly variable. While using diphenhydramine can reduce allergies in some patients, most do not

However, a cat may react to a different antihistamine if one (like diphenhydramine) doesn’t work for them. Therefore, it’s frequently required to try a variety of medications before finding one that works.

Antihistamines are never used to treat other allergies, such as food allergies, and are typically not the first line of treatment for cats with environmental allergies. It’s critical to test your cat, identify any allergies, and have your veterinarian customize the best course of action.

Flea allergies, for example, are best treated with appropriate flea control, while food allergies are treated with diet trials. Skin allergies in cats may be treated with allergy injections, steroids, or immune-mediating medications. Respiratory allergies (with symptoms such as runny nose and eyes as well as sneezing) are actually very rare in cats. Most cats with these signs actually have a respiratory infection and are not generally treated with antihistamines. So don’t assume your cat has allergies if you see these signs or try to treat them at home with human allergy medications.

Diphenhydramine is most likely being recommended by your veterinarian to treat an allergic reaction to something like a bee sting or to help prevent motion sickness.

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Can you give cats Benadryl?

Benadryl is an over-the-counter medication that cats can receive for allergies or other medical conditions. Benadryl comes in a variety of forms, such as liquid, topical, and tablet, and some will be more effective than others in meeting your pet’s needs. Cats can take Benadryl to treat allergies, nausea, insomnia, and anxiety, just like people can.

“Benadryl is most often used for cats to help with sudden allergic reactions, such as a bee sting,” says Chyrle Bonk, DVM, an Idaho-based veterinarian and cat expert at Cat World. “It can also be used long term for other types of allergies, but it has varying success.”

Cat allergies can cause runny noses, sneezing, itching, and/or upper respiratory tract problems, just like human allergies do. Cats can also have itchy, irritated skin due to allergies. Cats may experience these allergy symptoms seasonally, such as in the spring, or all year round, depending on what they are allergic to.

Benadryl works well as an allergy medication because it “can help decrease the mucus in your cat’s nose and help with upper respiratory issues due to grass and pollen,” says Sara Ochoa, DVM, a veterinarian in Louisiana. But not all allergy medications for humans are recommended for cats—and you shouldn’t give anything without first checking with your veterinarian.

Benadryl also has antiemetic properties, meaning it can prevent vomiting. If your pet becomes motion sick when riding in a car or airplane, this may be useful. Similar to Benadryl, Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) is a popular over-the-counter medication for motion sickness that is also prescribed to cats.

Since Benadryl can make you sleepy, a lot of pet owners take advantage of this mild sedative. When traveling long distances, a vet-approved recommended dosage of the medication can help your pet sleep or act as a calming prescription if they are agitated and need to rest. Some animals even take Benadryl to help sedate them a little before going to the vet.

“While they do not get as sleepy as humans,” Dr. According to Ochoa, cats who have taken Benadryl on a given day will typically sleep a little bit more. ”.


Why would you give a cat Benadryl?

Trent Eddy, DVM, of Ironhorse Veterinary Care in Leawood, Ks., says there are two main reasons you might need to give your cat Benadryl: general allergy issues or acute allergic reactions.

Will Benadryl calm my cat down?

Benadryl is an over-the-counter cat sedative option with a good safety margin. However, it’s important to check with your vet for the right dose and formulation. Side effects include dry mouth, increased heart rate, and urine retention.

How long does it take for Benadryl to work in a cat?

In cats, Benadryl (diphenhydramine) usually begins to take effect within 30 minutes to an hour after it is given orally. The duration of action of the medication varies, but it typically lasts for 4 to 8 hours.

Why does my cat foam at the mouth after taking Benadryl?

Liquid Benadryl may cause foaming at the mouth or drooling because it is often flavored with a sweetener to taste like bubble gum or cherry. Your cat may not like these tastes,” Dr. Bonk says. “Similarly, Benadryl tablets may have a bitter taste that could cause drooling or foaming at the mouth.”