Yes, Benadryl for dogs can help them feel calm if they’re scared of fireworks or thunder.
It is OK to give a dose of Benadryl to your dog to help him feel more relaxed. (More on the proper dosing below.)
I am not a veterinarian. Obviously, you should consult with your dog’s veterinarian before trying any type of medication, including Benadryl. Make sure it’s OK for your unique dog.
Benadryl for dog fireworks anxiety
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 veterinarian before giving Benadryl.
If you think your dog needs something stronger than Benadryl, see this post on prescription medications for dogs during fireworks.
*Get my tips on how to help a dog who’s scared of fireworks. Click Here.
What is Benadryl?
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is an over-the-counter medication for people that can also be given to dogs. It is the brand name for the active ingredient diphenhydramine.
Benadryl generally comes in 25mg tablets. You can buy it at pretty much any drugstore or grocery store.
What does Benadryl treat in dogs?
Many veterinarians recommend Benadryl for dogs that have itchy skin or to calm a dog with mild anxiety.
How much Benadryl should I give my dog for fireworks anxiety?
Dog anxiety Benadryl dosage – pill form
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 Lab mix Ace) that the proper dose of Benadryl for dogs is generally:
1mg per 1 pound of body weight 2-3 times per day.
- A 25-pound dog would get one 25mg Benadryl tablet 2-3 times per day.
- A 50-pound dog would get two 25mg Benadryl tablets 2-3 times per day.
- A 75-pound dog would get three 25mg Benadryl tablets 2-3 times per day.
I tend to give the lightest dose possible.
My dog Ace was 65 pounds, so I just give him the dose recommended for a 50-pound dog. He took Benadryl for itchy skin. Ace did not have noticeable anxiety around thunder or fireworks.
Liquid vs. pill form Benadryl for dogs
Benadryl is available in a pill form and in liquid form. Do not give your dog the liquid form of Benadryl. This is not recommended by veterinarians.
The pill format is easier to give your dog anyway, because you can just hide the pill in a piece of cheese or other tasty treat.
Does Benadryl actually calm a dog during fireworks?
Whether or not Benadryl will help your dog feel calm during fireworks depends on:
- the unique dog
- the severity of the dog’s anxiety
- when the anxiety medication is given to the dog
I recommend you attempt to give your dog Benadryl for anxiety about 45 minutes before you expect to hear fireworks.
That way the medication has time to help your dog feel calm before the fireworks begin.
Calming dogs down once the actual fireworks have already started is a lot more challenging than helping a dog feel calm before the fireworks begin.
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.
How long does it take Benadryl to work for a dog’s anxiety?
It’s different for each dog, but in my experience Benadryl begins help a dog feel more relaxed in about 30 minutes.
Keep in mind, it might not be obvious to you whether or not the Benadryl is actually helping your dog feel calm. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Side effects of Benadryl for dogs
Benadryl overdose in dogs
1. Benadryl dosage for dogs: Ask your vet what the proper dose should be for your dog if you’re not sure! (Above, I listed the Benadryl dosage I’ve been told by several vets.)
2. Read the label. Note that some medications might come in 50mg tablets vs. 25mg. Make sure to read the label. And remember the dosage on the label is for humans, not dogs.
3. Don’t give your dog cold medicine. 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.
Will Benadryl make my dog sleepy?
Benadryl does make a lot of dogs sleepy because one of the side effects of Benadryl is drowsiness.
If your dog is feeling sleepy from the Benadryl, he should have an easier time relaxing and resting while fireworks are going on outside. Benadryl can also help calm a dog while traveling.
So yes, it’s definitely OK to try to give your dog Benadryl to try to help calm him down.
Generic Benadryl for dogs
The generic form of Benadryl for people or dogs is Diphenhydramine.
It is an antihistamine used to treat allergies, insect stings, motion sickness and anxiety in dogs.
Natural alternatives to Benadryl for dogs
What else can I give my dog to calm him from fireworks or thunder?
Besides Benadryl for dogs during fireworks, there are a couple of natural remedies you can give to a dog to try to relax them:
Rescue Remedy. This is a product made of flower material that is designed to naturally calm a dog’s nerves.
Thundershirt. A ThunderShirt is designed to gently wrap around the dog’s body in order to help him feel less anxious. You could also try a ThunderShirt in addition to giving your dog Benadryl.
Dog Appeasing Pheromones (DAP). ADAPTIL is a brand that mimics the natural dog appeasing pheromone dogs know from birth.
Other dog fireworks anxiety medications
If your dog has severe anxiety around fireworks or thunderstorms and Benadryl does not seem to help, then you may want to consider a prescription anxiety medication from your dog’s vet.
There are prescription fireworks anxiety medications available for dogs such as Diazepam (Valium) and Acepromazine.
Diazepam, or valium, is a sedative and muscle relaxer that should help your do feel calm during fireworks.
Tranquilizer for dogs fireworks
One prescription dog anxiety medication is called Acepromazine.
Acepromazine should always be administered under the direct supervision of a veterinarian as it is very powerful, according to Grimmett.
She recommends you do not leave your dog home alone after giving this tranquilizer.
This anxiety medication has not been proven to work in removing the dog’s fear, according to 1-800-PetMeds, a pet pharmacy that carries Acepromazine. The drug will, however, likely make the dog calm.
Make sure to ask your vet questions about these drugs and the potential side effects so you can make the best decision based on your dog or puppy’s anxiety level during fireworks or storms.
Trazodone vs. Benadryl for dogs anti anxiety
Another prescription option to give your dog during fireworks is Trazodone.
Trazodone is a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) antidepressant. The brand names are Desyrel and Oleptro.
It is used to treat behavioral disorders in dogs such as a fear of fireworks, fearfulness at the vet, separation anxiety or travel anxiety.
Side effects of Trazodone for dogs
Trazodone can make your dog very lethargic or sedated. This is why it’s much more effective than Benadryl. You can learn more about Trazodone here.
If you’ve tried giving your dog Benadryl and it did not help his anxiety, I would talk with a vet about Trazodone.
Make sure to pick it up a few weeks before the 4th of July so you have it ready to go in advance.
I give my weimaraner Trazodone a few hours before fireworks begin every 4th of July and on New Year’s Eve. It makes him very sleepy and he’s able to hunker down in his kennel during fireworks.
Remy also takes Trazodone before he goes to the vet. See our article: My dog is aggressive at the vet.
Hydrozyzine vs Benadryl for dogs
Hydroxyzine is another medication that veterinarians will prescribe to help dogs with allergies or itchy skin.
Like Benadryl, it is an antihistamine, but sometimes veterinarians will prescribe it for dogs as a sedative to help the dog with anxiety.
If you decide to give your dog Hydroxyzine, make sure to discuss with your dog’s vet and get the appropriate dosage.
Apoquel vs. Benadryl for dogs
Apoquel is an immune suppressant drug used to treat a dog’s itchy skin. This medication is very effective for helping a dog with allergies, but it is generally not used to treat dogs for anxiety.
One of the side effects of Apoquel is lethargy, so it could potentially help a dog deal with anxiety. But because it is an immune suppressant drug with a lot of other side effects, there are better options for helping a dog with anxiety.
Read more about Apoquel here.
Now, let me know what has helped your dog’s anxiety around fireworks?
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.
My dog Remy gets a little nervous and hunkers down on his bed or tries to get as close as possible to us. Read our 4th of July with dogs routine here.
*Get my tips on how to help a dog who’s scared of fireworks. Click Here.
Products to Help Dogs With Fireworks
The Thundershirt is worth a try in addition to other training methods and potentially anti-anxiety medication.
- Dog Appeasing Pheromones:
Adaptil releases specific pheromones that naturally appease and calm dogs. Available as a diffuser you plug in to the wall, a collar or a spray.
- A white noise machine:
An actual white noise machine works so well to block out the noise. You could also try a loud fan and keep music or the TV playing.
Related dog fireworks articles:
UPDATE: We were recently sent a new product that we’re hoping will help Raven this year with her firework anxiety. Native Pet sent us Native Pet Calm – Dog Calming Chews. We’re going to test them out this year and report back to you.