Have you ever spent half the night tossing and turning, frustrated that you can’t seem to sleep because of anxiety or stress? There are all sorts of sleep aids out there but you don’t want anything addictive and you just need an option once in a while. A lot of doctors tell patients to just take a Benadryl or two to help them sleep.
Just like we as humans struggle to sleep, dogs can have some of the same challenges sleeping because they can get extremely anxious. Much the same way that we can take Benadryl and expect to get drowsy, it works the same for dogs.
Benadryl is also sometimes used to put dogs to sleep or euthanasia them from home. Keep in mind that the legality of this may vary by location as many states have different laws on whether or not you can euthanize your dog.
Benadryl is an antihistamine so it has a lot of potential benefits but it is important to note that drowsiness is a known side effect. In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about putting a dog to sleep with Benadryl. There is a myriad of information so let’s get started!
What is Benadryl and How Does It Work?
Benadryl is an antihistamine product that can put dogs to sleep. It is known for also providing allergy relief to symptoms like hay fever, allergies, common colds, itchy skin, bug bites, and even snake bites. Benadryl is an over-the-counter medicine that is available as a name brand and in many generic brands as well.
When you need fast relief for things like itching, Benadryl is one of the best solutions. You can find it in many forms. For the purpose of using it for a dog, you will most likely want to use an option, but here are some of the forms it is available in.
- Oral tablets
- Oral liquid-gels
- Oral chewable tablets
- Oral liquid solution
- Topical cream
- Topical gel
- Topical spray
- Topical stick
The active ingredient in Benadryl is diphenhydramine, which is an antihistamine, but some forms of Benadryl may contain other active ingredients as well. When putting a dog to sleep with Benadryl, we do recommend that you work with your veterinarian for appropriate dosage information.
Benadryl Dosage for Dogs
It can be challenging to properly find the right amount of Benedryle for your dog if your veterinarian isn’t open. You want to be sure not to give them too much when treating them for something specific but you also want it to be effective so it can help them sleep.
Most Benadryl capsules come in 25 mg doses. You will need to be able to cut that pill prior to dosing your dog. If you have Benedryl in liquid form, you will just need to measure out the correct dosage.
The rule of thumb is that your dog should be given 1 mg of Benadryl for every pound of body weight. They can be given this dose 2-3 times per day. If your dog is 25 pounds, they can be given a full 25 mg pill as a single dose.
Again, we want to point out that working with your veterinarian may be the best way to know that you are giving your dog a safe dose of Benadryl for the purpose intended. This dosage recommendation is for standard allergy Benadryl.
On another note, some pet owners have used Benadryl to put their pet to sleep and even euthanize their pets from home. Let’s talk about these topics in a bit more detail.
How to Put a Dog to Sleep with Benadryl?
There are sleep aids, anxiety medications, and even tranquilizer-type products that can be used for dogs to calm them or help them rest or be sedated. If you want to use something that is mild rather than a tranquilizer or sedative, Benadryl could be a good alternative for helping your dog calm and sleep.
There may be several reasons to help your dog sleep with Benadryl.
- Extra guests
There could be any number of things that will make your dog scared, nervous, or unsettled and you just have to find out what works for you. Benadryl can be an option in many of these cases. We do want to point out that you shouldn’t use Benadryl for a dog that weighs less than 6 pounds. It’s simply too hard to get the dose small enough for their bodies to handle.
When trying to get your dog to sleep or calm down using Benadryl, it is recommended that you use the common dosage rule of thumb that we discussed in the previous dosage section. Remember, that means approximately 1 mg per pound of body weight.
Don’t get too hung up on getting the dosage exact. It’s hard to do when you’re cutting down a tablet. Get it as close as you can.
Pro Tip: It’s better to start with a lower dose than to use too high of dosage so error on the side of caution if you question the dosage in any way.
Benadryl Side Effects
If you’re using Benadryl to treat anxiety, allergies, or some other issue, you should be aware that there could be side effects. This is true of any drug, prescription, or medicine you can possibly find!
For the most part, Benadryl is considered to be safe for dogs when used correctly. However, there is always a chance for side effects and we think it is important for you to be aware of those.
Here are the potential side effects of using Benadryl for a dog.
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Dry mouth
- Urinary retention
These are the most common side effects that are possible. Most of these would be temporary and you should cease using Benadryl if they become an issue. For side effects like urinary retention, this could potentially lead to liver or kidney damage so you will definitely want to follow up with a vet if this occurs.
Here are some other potential side effects that are far less common with the use of Benadryl.
- Increased appetite
- Decreased appetite
The best way to determine whether your dog is going to experience side effects is to monitor them for 1-5 hours after every dose. This is especially important if you have not given your dog Benadryl before.
After you have used Benadryl and monitored, you may not have to monitor so closely with every use, but if you notice any irregularities or symptoms, you need to be aware and take action.
Watching for things like lethargy and lack of appetite or excessive appetite. You know your dog best so if you see signs that something is off, you may need to call your vet.
Benadryl Treatment Options for Dogs
We’ve talked a lot about the fact that are many things that Benadryl can be used for. However, that information is spread throughout all of these sections. We felt it would be important to also share a list of potential treatments here to give you a simple reference for understanding the uses of Benadryl for your dog.
The most common use of Benadryl is allergy treatment. This may mean allergies that cause wheezing and sneezing but it could also be irritated skin or skin allergies as well. You may notice things like nasal discharge, coughing, inflamed eyes, and similar symptoms of allergies as to what a human might experience.
If you work closely with a vet, they often recommend Benadryl for things like this. It will be up to you and your vet to determine whether your dog is experiencing allergies and whether this is the right treatment option.
Benadryl works similarly to a sedative. It relaxes and soothes and will most likely make your dog sleepy. This makes Benadryl a good option for anxiety to relax your dog and help them sleep.
Mast Cell Tumors
Mast cell tumors can lead to the release of histamine in your pet’s system. In this scenario, Benadryl may be a good treatment for the histamine released.
Benadryl does not treat heartworms specifically. You will need heartworm medicine for that. However, it can help your dog to rest while they are recuperating.
Again, Benadryl probably won’t alleviate motion sickness but the sickness may be caused by stress and traveling. Rather, Benadryl might help your dog sleep or rest so that you can travel without any motion sickness side effects.
Finally, Benadryl has been also been used for euthanizing dogs at home. We have some more detailed information for this coming right up.
How to Euthanize a Dog with Benadryl
Before we get started, let us say, you need to be very careful about this practice. You don’t want to end up harming your dog by not properly dosing them. In the same instance, euthanizing your pet from home could be illegal.
This varies by state and region so be sure to check out this list but also refer to your own state’s laws on whether or not euthanizing your own dog is legal in your area before you attempt it. Remember to always consult a veterinarian before deciding to euthanize your dog with Benedryl.
This process may not be suitable for everyone but it does provide an option for putting your dog to sleep peacefully and helping them transition to the other side. This can be a challenging decision to make and we certainly do not take that lightly.
You will find that most veterinarians do not recommend euthanizing your dog using Benadryl. Some of them would say that Tylenol PM is a better method. If you are close to a vet that you work with, you may want to discuss this with them.
Here is how to euthanize a dog with Benadryl:
- Make your dog as comfortable as possible.
- Give your dog 3-4 times the standard amount of a recommended dosage. For example, if your dog is 25 pounds, a normal dosage would be 25 mg. For euthanasia purposes, you would need to give them at least 75 mg.
- The overdose of Benadryl will cause your dog to go into a coma and not wake up.
We do recommend that you work with your veterinarian to at least get the dosage right so you don’t take the chance that you cause your dog damage without actually effectively putting them to sleep.
Why Would You Euthanize a Dog with Benadryl?
If you’re looking at this guide and wondering why would anyone ever do that, there are certainly reasons to back up the decision.
The cost of euthanizing your pet through a professional can be very expensive. Especially when you take into account that you may have already been treating your pet for an illness or something and racked up medical bills. Euthanizing a pet typically costs less than $500 but the prices can vary.
There could also be additional costs if you have your dog cremated or have a vet come directly to your home.
Another reason some people seek to euthanize their pets at home is that it allows the pet to pass away peacefully in their own home. It allows the pet’s family to be there with them and to have a quiet gathering or event as needed for the family. There are no disruptions, no stark white walls, just the family and the pet saying goodbye peacefully.
Remember to determine whether or not euthanizing a pet at home is legal in your area. We don’t recommend this unless you have considered all other options and know the process or talked with your vet to get it right.
Conclusion Putting a Dog to Sleep with Benadryl
While putting your dog to sleep forever may seem a bit morbid, there are those who do need legitimate options. You should be aware of and familiar with all of the benefits that Benadryl can provide. There are many different treatment options to consider.
Whether your dog is old and fragile and just needs a release or your dog is riddled with itchy skin and irritating allergies, Benadryl could be a solution for you. This over-the-counter medicine can provide you with options when it is used correctly.
Be sure to pay attention to the dosage recommendations. As always, we recommend working with your vet before administering Benadryl to be sure you understand the dosage, the frequency, and how it could potentially affect your pet as well.
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