Is it OK to use Benadryl for dogs during fireworks? And does it work?
Yes, if your dog is scared of fireworks or thunder it is OK to give a dose of Benadryl to help calm your dog’s nerves. (More on the proper dosing below.)
Obviously, you should consult with your dog’s veterinarian before trying any type of medication to make sure it’s OK for your unique dog.
Benadryl can “gently calm a pet with mild to moderate storm anxiety,” said Dr. Danel Grimmett, a veterinarian with Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, Okla.
I emailed her in the past for a post about medications for dogs during fireworks.
Grimmett said in addition to storm anxiety or fireworks anxiety, Benadryl is often used for dogs that have mild anxiety or motion sickness in the car. Of course, she recommends you consult with your dog’s own veterinarian before giving Benadryl.
If you think your dog needs something stronger than Benadryl, see this post on prescription medications for dogs during fireworks.
How much Benadryl should I give my dog for fireworks anxiety?
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an over-the-counter medication for people. It generally comes in 25mg tablets. You can buy it at pretty much any drugstore or grocery store. Many veterinarians recommend Benadryl for dogs that have itchy skin or mild anxiety.
The dose for dogs is not the same as the dose for people, so you can’t go by the label. It’s best to ask your dog’s vet what the proper dose should be.
Multiple vets have told me (for my dog Ace) that the proper dose is generally 1mg per 1 pound of body weight 2-3 times per day.
A 25-pound dog would get one 25mg tablet 2-3 times per day.
A 50-pound dog would get two 25mg tablets 2-3 times per day.
A 75-pound dog would get three 25mg tablets 2-3 times per day.
I tend to give the lightest dose possible.
My dog Ace is 65 pounds, so I just give him the dose recommended for a 50-pound dog. But this is for itchy skin; Ace doesn’t have noticeable anxiety around noise.
A couple of warnings:
1. Ask your vet what the proper dose should be for your dog if you’re not sure!
2. Note that some medications might come in 50mg tablets vs. 25mg. Make sure to read the label.
3. You don’t want to give your dog Benadryl (diphenhydramine) if it’s mixed with cold medicine. Things like Tylenol (acetaminophen), Advil or Sudafed are generally not recommended for dogs and can be harmful. If you have questions, ask a vet.
Does Benadryl for dogs during fireworks actually work?
It depends on the dog, the severity of the anxiety and when the medication is given. If your dog has severe anxiety (and I mean severe!) around fireworks or thunder, see this post for some additional ideas.
I would like to hear about your experience in the comments.
Alternatives to Benadryl
Besides Benadryl for dogs during fireworks, there are a couple of natural options you can try such as Rescue Remedy. This is a product made of flower material that is designed to naturally calm a dog’s nerves.
You could also try a ThunderShirt with or without Benadryl. A ThunderShirt is designed to gently wrap around the dog's body in order to help him feel less anxious.
What has helped your dog?
In the comments, I’d love to hear what’s worked for your dog.
My dog Ace does not seem to be fazed by loud noises, thankfully. This will be puppy Remy’s first Fourth of July but fireworks are very brief here in San Diego so even if he’s scared it will only last about 25 minutes. He’ll be in his kennel indoors where he feels secure.
Fireworks are not a month-long or summer-long event like they are in some areas! Hello, Wisconsin!
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