Human antihistamine medications such as Claritin, Benadryl, Tavist and Atarax are often borrowed by veterinarians for use in treating dogs. These medications fall into a specific category of antihistamines called H1 blockers, and they work very well for people, dogs and in some cases cats. While your vet may prescribe Claritin to help relieve your dog's allergy symptoms, he or she will be calculating the correct dosage based on your dog's age, weight and severity of the allergies. Do not attempt to give Claritin to your dog without first speaking to your vet.
Giving Claritin to Canines
There are several books on the market that offer information about converting human medications into canine doses. Although many dog owners have found these guides useful when treating dogs at home, there's always a certain amount of risk involved when administering drugs to your dog without your vet's supervision.
Consult Your Vet
Since there have been so many breakthroughs in treating allergies over the last several years, many of the current antihistamines are not included in these guides, and such is the case with Claritin. There are no canine conversion directions in print indicating the exact dosage of Claritin for dogs.
So it follows that if you're determined to share your allergy meds with your dog, the best thing you can do is run it by your vet first. If you find that your vet has had little experience using Claritin on canines, he or she will probably refer you back to list of safe medications to provide relief for your pet's itchy skin and watery eyes.
Claritin vs. Claritin D
If your vet is comfortable prescribing Claritin for your dog, you should take care to use regular Claritin and not Claritin D.
Claritin D contains a drug known as pseudoephedrine that can be toxic to dogs, and it has the potential to kill your pet if the dosage is high enough.
Side Effects of Antihistamines
Although antihistamines such as Benadryl, and in some cases Claritin, can bring your dog some much needed relief, they are not without side effects:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Changes in bowel movements
- Behavioral changes
Every dog reacts a little differently to medications. If your dog appears to have a strong reaction to any antihistamine you give him, refrain from administering the next dose and call your vet right away.
If you'd like to learn more about using human medicines to treat pets, try reading Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by James Giffen, M.D. and Lisa Carlson, D.V.M., or The Pill Book: Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat by Kate Roby and Lenny Southam. Either volume can help you expand your knowledge so that you and your vet can work closely together to find a treatment option that works for your pet.