Benadryl vs. Hydroxyzine for Dogs

Benadryl vs. Hydroxyzine for Dogs

Antihistamines are medicines used to help with dog allergies.

Allergies can be caused by things like pollen, dust, or certain foods, making dogs sneeze, itch, or have a runny nose.

Antihistamines work by stopping histamine, a troublemaker that causes allergy symptoms.

Giving your dog antihistamines like Benadryl or Hydroxyzine blocks histamine and makes your dog feel better.

It’s like a shield protecting your dog from histamine’s effects, ensuring they feel more comfortable.

Antihistamines are often the first choice for treating allergies in dogs because they’re safe and effective at reducing itching, sneezing, and other allergy-related issues.

What Is Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Benadryl is a well-known medicine, often used by people for allergies and sleep problems.

In dogs it’s used to cub and fight  issues like itching, sneezing, and mild allergies.

It’s safe for dogs and works quickly to ease pain in dogs.

What Is Hydroxyzine

Hydroxyzine is another medicine for allergies used by veterinarians. It’s given to dogs with severe allergies, anxiety, or ongoing itching.

Dosage Of The Above Drugs

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Benadryl’s effects last around 4 to 8 hours.

You often need to give it to your dog every 6 to 8 hours for it to keep working.

Imagine it’s like having to use medicine multiple times each day to continue feeling better from your allergies.


Should only be  used as directed by a qualified vet.

The usual dose is 1 mg tablet per pound of your dog’s weight, twice daily.

Follow your vet’s specific dosing instructions, typically 1-2 mg per pound, twice a day.

It’s available in pill or liquid form; consult your vet on the best option for your dog.

Discuss timing, whether to give it with food, and any other health considerations or concurrent medications with your vet.

Hydroxyzine’s effects last longer, about 8 to 12 hours.

This means you don’t have to give it to your dog as often.

Think of it as needing to take the medicine less often because it stays effective for a longer while.

How does Benadryl and Hydroxyzine Work?

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Benadryl stops the effects of histamine, a substance your body releases when it’s dealing with allergies.

It helps with things like itching, sneezing, and runny noses during allergies by blocking histamine.


Hydroxyzine also blocks histamine, just like Benadryl.

But it does more—it helps calm your dog down and might make them a bit sleepy because it works on their nervous system.

So, both drugs help with allergy symptoms by stopping histamine, but Hydroxyzine can also help dogs relax or feel less anxious.

When To Recommend The Two Drugs

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine)

Seasonal Allergies: Benadryl is often prescribed to dogs with seasonal allergies, which can be triggered by pollen, grass, or other environmental factors.

  • It helps relieve symptoms like itching, sneezing, and runny noses.

Insect Bites and Stings: When a dog gets bitten or stung by insects like bees or mosquitoes, Benadryl can help reduce swelling, itching, and discomfort.

Food Allergies: In cases of food allergies, Benadryl can help manage mild allergic reactions by alleviating symptoms such as itching and digestive upset. However, it’s essential to identify and eliminate the allergen from the dog’s diet for long-term relief.


Severe Allergies: Hydroxyzine is typically used when a dog experiences severe allergies that may not respond adequately to Benadryl alone.

  • It’s effective in managing intense itching, hives, or skin rashes associated with severe allergic reactions.

Anxiety Disorders: Hydroxyzine’s sedative properties make it valuable for dogs with anxiety disorders.

  • This includes separation anxiety, fear of thunderstorms or fireworks, or generalized anxiety. It can help dogs feel calmer and reduce anxious behaviors.

Chronic Itching: For dogs with chronic itching caused by skin conditions like atopic dermatitis or allergies, Hydroxyzine can provide relief over an extended period due to its longer duration of action.

Preventive Use: In some cases, veterinarians may prescribe Hydroxyzine before potentially anxiety-inducing events, like car rides or visits to the groomer, to keep dogs calm and stress-free.

What are the main Differences Between Benadryl and Hydroxyzine?

Effectiveness is an essential factor when choosing between Benadryl and Hydroxyzine or any other medicine from Agrovet’s shelf.

Below is a summarised table showing the differences between the two.

CategoryBenadryl (Diphenhydramine)Hydroxyzine
EffectivenessEffective for mild allergies, itching, sneezing, and mild allergic reactionsParticularly effective for severe allergies, anxiety, and chronic itching
EfficiencyQuick onset, may require more frequent dosingLonger duration of action, less frequent dosing may be needed
Producing CompanyVarious pharmaceutical companies produce generic versionsHydroxyzine is available under different brand names, produced by various pharmaceutical companies
IngredientsActive ingredient is DiphenhydramineActive ingredient is Hydroxyzine
RatingGenerally well-rated for mild symptomsWell-rated for managing severe allergies and anxiety in dogs
PreferenceOften preferred for milder issues due to quicker reliefPreferred for more severe or chronic conditions due to longer-lasting effects
Differences Between Benadryl and Hydroxyzine

Pros and Cons Of Benadryl and Hydroxyzine

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) Pros And Cons


  • Quick onset: Provides relatively fast relief for mild allergy symptoms.
  • Over-the-counter availability: Easily accessible for pet owners.
  • Suitable for mild symptoms: Effective for mild allergies, itching, sneezing, and mild allergic reactions.
  • Less sedation: Tends to cause less drowsiness compared to Hydroxyzine.
  • Lower cost: Generally more budget-friendly.


  • Shorter duration: Requires more frequent dosing compared to Hydroxyzine.
  • Sedation: Can cause drowsiness in some dogs, which may not be desirable in all situations.
  • Dosage precision: It’s crucial to administer the correct dosage based on your dog’s weight to avoid potential side effects.
  • Limited effectiveness: While suitable for mild symptoms, it may not provide adequate relief for severe allergies or chronic conditions.

Hydroxyzine Pros And Cons


  • Long-lasting relief: Has a longer duration of action, requiring less frequent dosing.
  • Effective for severe issues: Particularly useful for managing severe allergies, anxiety, and chronic itching in dogs.
  • Veterinary prescription: Available under different brand names with guidance from a veterinarian.
  • Versatile: Can be compounded for specific needs that cannot be met by FDA-approved drugs.
  • Well-rated: Often preferred for more serious or chronic conditions in dogs.


  • Veterinary prescription: Requires a prescription from a veterinarian, which can be less convenient than over-the-counter options like Benadryl.
  • Potential side effects: Like any medication, Hydroxyzine can have side effects, and its use should be monitored by a veterinarian.
  • Variable availability: The availability of Hydroxyzine may vary depending on your location and veterinary clinic.
  • Cost: Hydroxyzine may be more expensive than Benadryl, depending on the brand and formulation.

Availability  and Precautions Of Benadryl and Hydroxyzine

Benadryl is easy to find without a prescription, while Hydroxyzine is a prescription medicine. Its availability can vary by location and vet clinic. Sometimes, a special version of Hydroxyzine might be recommended if your dog has specific needs.

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) Side Effects

  1. Drowsiness: Benadryl can cause drowsiness in dogs, which may not be suitable for all situations.
  2. Dry Mouth: Dogs may experience a dry mouth or increased thirst when taking Benadryl.
  3. Urinary Retention: Some dogs may have difficulty urinating or show signs of urinary retention.
  4. Rapid Heart Rate: In rare cases, Benadryl can lead to an elevated heart rate.
  5. Gastrointestinal Upset: Dogs may experience digestive issues like diarrhea or vomiting.

Hydroxyzine Side Effects

  1. Drowsiness: Hydroxyzine can cause drowsiness, which can be more pronounced than with Benadryl.
  2. Dry Mouth: Like Benadryl, it may lead to dry mouth or increased thirst.
  3. Dizziness: Some dogs may experience dizziness or unsteadiness.
  4. Urinary Retention: It can also cause difficulty with urination.
  5. Gastrointestinal Issues: Dogs may experience digestive problems such as diarrhoea or upset stomach.
  6. Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, allergic reactions to Hydroxyzine can occur, leading to symptoms like itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing.

Things to Note: Hydroxyzine can be given to dogs before potentially stressful events like car rides or grooming appointments.

This helps keep dogs calm and prevents anxiety.

It makes these experiences less stressful for the dog and the owner.

Always follow your vet’s instructions for the right timing and dosage.

Your vet might use different medicines to help your pet with allergies. These can include.

  • Steroids or allergy shots, which are kind of like long-term allergy treatments that people also use.
  • There are some vitamins and supplements that might be good for dogs with allergies and itchy skin.

But, remember to talk to your vet before giving any new vitamins or supplements to your pet.

  • Things like coconut or fish oils can make your pet’s skin and fur healthier, which might help with the itchiness.

You can also change some things in your daily life to help your dog:

  • Try to find out what’s causing the irritation or allergy for your dog and get rid of it from your home.
  • Change how and where you go for walks to avoid things that make your dog’s allergies worse.
  • Use different cleaning stuff at home to get rid of dust or mold better.

Natural Ways Against Allergies

Yes, Natural remedies can help dogs with allergies. Some options are:

  • L-Theanine, found in green tea, calms dogs and reduces allergies.
  • Irish Moss, a seaweed that soothes skin irritation.
  • Raw local honey, containing bee pollen that lessens sensitivity to allergens.
  • Baking soda, which makes a soothing paste for itchy skin.
  • Quercetin, a powerful remedy that reduces histamine response.
  • Nettles, which are natural antihistamines that control inflammation.
  • Chinese Skullcap, an herb with anti-inflammatory and antihistamine properties.

These natural alternatives can help dogs with allergies without the side effects of regular medicine.

Bottom Line

When you have to pick between Benadryl and Hydroxyzine for your dog, ask your vet. They know your dog’s health best and can tell you which medicine is right. Your vet will also give you the right amount and tell you what to be careful about when giving it to your dog.

Always talk to your vet before deciding which medicine to use. They will consider your dog’s unique health, allergies, and overall condition to suggest the best treatment. Your vet can also provide you with the right dosage, ensuring your dog stays safe and comfortable.

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