Can Dogs Take Loratadine? Here Are 10 (Real-Life Facts)

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Is your dog scratching and licking itself too much? Do you have a feeling that your dog is going crazy from allergies and want to help? Do you wonder if loratadine is a safe treatment for dogs or not?

Loratadine is a pretty popular FDA-approved medication for the treatment of allergic rhinitis in people. While it’s only formulated with humans in mind, many dog owners are wondering if they can use it to alleviate the symptoms that their canine friends are dealing with.

So, if you’re interested in learning about loratadine, a substitute or two, and some tips to relieve your dog’s allergies at home, keep on reading.

Does Loratadine Work for Pet Allergies?

Yes. Loratadine, commercially known as the brand name Claritin, is an antihistamine tablet, meaning that it treats short-term allergy symptoms, such as watery eyes, itchy skin, and runny nose for people. It’s pretty effective for us, but what about pets?

However, we must resist the urge to just rummage in our medicine cabinet for medications or an allergy medication for our dogs without understanding whether they’re safe for them or not.

It turns out that pet parents can use loratadine to reduce pet allergy symptoms, most common of which are nasal congestion, sneezing, skin hives, swelling in the face, constant licking, and more.

Loratadine is also recommended to relieve inflammation for dogs with insect bites, mast cell tumors, canine atopic dermatitis or atopic dogs, and vaccine reactions.

That being said, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian first to know what caused the allergic reactions because sometimes they indicate serious underlying conditions.

Additionally, understanding the causes of the allergy or flea allergy can alleviate the reactions better than medications; for example, it’s better for a larger dog with a food allergy to avoid food that it’s allergic to than to take antihistamines and keep eating it.

Happy veterinarians playing with dog on yard at veterinary clinic

How Do Antihistamines Work?

To understand what an antihistamine does, we should first know what histamine really is. Histamine is the inflammatory biochemical that bodies release in response to coming in contact with allergens.

So, basically, seasonal allergies happen when the immune system mistakes something harmless for something harmful and gets unnecessarily defensive.

This pesky chemical keeps on searching for receptors to attach to, and once it finds them, it triggers allergic reactions. Histamine receptors are either H1 or H2. When histamine attaches to H1, it triggers allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itching or itchiness, and swelling. On the other hand, when it attaches to H2, it triggers increased heart rate, peptic ulcers, and acid reflux.

Antihistamines or histamine blockers alleviate allergic reactions by blocking histamine from attaching to these receptors. Some are H1-antihistamines, others are H2-antihistamines, and the rest are for both.

Loratadine is the most commonly used H1-antihistamine, and other popular options include Benadryl and Allegra.

Can I Give My Dog Loratadine and Benadryl?

Pils tablets in blister pack

Both loratadine and Benadryl are considered safe for use with pets. However, there are some facts and side effects that you have to keep in mind before starting this short-term treatment.

  1. Some Dogs Shouldn’t Take Them

Just like some people have certain limitations with drugs, so do dogs. You should never give these antihistamines to dogs with serious conditions such as heart failure, hypertension, and liver or kidney disease. Also, they’re not meant for use with pregnant or even nursing dogs.

Not to mention, dogs with health conditions such as glaucoma or dry eye shouldn’t take antihistamines without veterinary guidance because they could make eyes even drier.

  1. They Have Side Effects

Like all antihistamines, loratadine and Benadryl have potential side effects that you should take into consideration.

One of the most common side effects of taking these antihistamines is a dry mouth. You can expect some reduced tear production, as well. So, if you give your dog Claritin, try to kick up hydrating your canine friend a notch.

Also, while both antihistamines are technically non-sedative, you can expect a little bit of drowsiness in your medicated dog. Additionally, these drugs may cause urinary retention if that is something your dog is prone to it. Sometimes, Benadryl causes hypersalivation and rapid breathing.

  1. Some Variations Are Toxic

Sometimes, a certain medication is safe for use with dogs, but other variations of it can be toxic. For example, you can give your dog Claritin, but you should never give it Claritin-D because it contains an active ingredient that is toxic to dogs, such as pseudoephedrine.

In addition, your veterinarian may recommend a children’s Claritin only in chewable tablet form because the flavored syrup and oral dispersible tablets may contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to pets.

  1. Antihistamines Interfere With Each Other

We know that your dog experiencing an uncomfortable allergic reaction are no fun to watch, but giving your dog more than one antihistamine at the same time is far from what your dog needs.

Mixing different histamine antagonists together most probably will lead to an overdose, which may lead to strokes.

Sometimes, they interfere with other types of medications, which is why it’s important to review your dog’s medical history and current medications with your vet before administering these tablets.

  1. They Are Short-term Solutions

Loratadine and Benadryl are the most effective antihistamines on the market for both humans and dogs. That being said, you can’t expect them to cure underlying conditions or eliminate symptoms that are mistaken for allergies when they’re not.

This is important to remember because you may find yourself resorting to loratadine, Benadryl, or any other histamine antagonist for prolonged periods of time, exceeding the safe dose that your vet probably recommended.

How Many Mg of Antihistamine Can You Give a Dog?

Dog under a blanket on white

The dose of antihistamine to give your dog depends on many factors, such as body weight, dog allergy severity, medical history, and the medication itself.

For example, the general dose of Claritin that a vet recommends in tablets is 5 mg daily for small dogs that weigh between 1 and 14 pounds, and 10 mg daily for large dogs weighing at least 15 pounds, which you can administer in two 5 mg doses.

However, if you’ll give your dog Allegra, administer 1 to 2.5 mg for every pound of body weight daily, which is also more or less the same recommended dose of Benadryl.

Either way, you should always contact your veterinarian because they will always know better in terms of what medication your dog actually needs and the right dose.

How Can I Soothe My Dog’s Itchy Skin?

Over-the-counter drugs are the most convenient option to treat a dog’s itchiness, but the health concerns and potential side effects make DIY pet parents flinch. So, here are some homemade remedies that will soothe your dog’s skin allergy symptoms.

  1. Coconut Oil

Eczema, insect bites, and bee stings can be really painful, but nothing can soothe them like coconut oil. So, pour a teaspoon of organic coconut oil on your palms and massage them on the irritated areas. It will relieve the symptoms and improve the quality of the dog’s skin and coat.

  1. Colloidal Oatmeal

Your grandmother has probably suggested this at some point, and she’s right. Colloidal oatmeal is one of the oldest and most successful anti-inflammatory solutions for irritated and swelling skin. You either buy it pre-made or make it yourself by grinding sugar-free oats into a fine powder.

You can sprinkle it in a bath for your dog or add water to turn it into a paste. Either way, your pet will be very grateful.

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is known for its antiseptic properties, but not enough people are aware of how soothing it can be for dry and irritated skin or skin irritation. Dilute your ACV with water to make a 50/50 solution. Also, if your dog has stepped into poison ivy or a similar irritant or has antihistamine poisoning, you can soak its paws in the solution for 5 minutes.

  1. Aloe Vera

Does aloe vera need an introduction to the world of skin relief? Absolutely not. However, the news here is that you can safely use it on your dog. So, apply aloe vera on your dog’s itchy, reddened skin for some cooling, healing magic.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

One of the biggest causes of a pet allergy is commercial food. While it has its nutrients, it’s often packed with fillers and preservatives that irritate dogs beyond what their owners can fathom. So, feeding your dog a real diet that’s packed with omega 3 fatty acid will help treat your dog’s symptoms from the inside with anti-inflammatory properties.


Final Thoughts

I hope that you’ve enjoyed the article and found it informative. Please tell us your thoughts and experiences with dog allergies in the comment section below.

I had to write about this topic because many pet parents ask, “can dogs take loratadine?” without an educated answer.

Loratadine and its equivalents in antihistamines are pretty much safe for dogs. That being said, you should always consult your veterinarian first about whether it’s the right choice for your dog and the safe dose.

Additionally, you should always be informed about the possible side effects that your dog may experience with these drugs. If you’re too worried, you can always try some safe homemade remedies to relieve inflammations.