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Can you give cats Benadryl

Health & Wellness

Can cats have Benadryl?

The medicine is generally safe for cats

Benadryl, a medication that alleviates peoples’ allergies, can also benefit cats. With your vet’s OK, the over-the-counter medication stops cats from scratching during an allergic reaction to a bug bite or vaccination. Vet and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough shares everything pet parents need to know about giving Benadryl to their cats.

Can you give cats Benadryl? 

Talk to your vet before introducing Benadryl (and all medications) to your cat. If the vet approves of you giving your pet Benadryl, have a pet emergency preparedness plan in place in case they have a negative reaction. Some tips to get you started are:  

  • Write down the phone numbers for poison control, local 24-hour emergency pet hospitals and animal ambulances in your area.
  • Put together a pet emergency kit including latex gloves, an information card with your vet’s address and phone number and towels. 
  • Practice for emergencies by familiarizing your pet with riding in the car.

How much Benadryl can I give my cat? 

Talk to your vet to determine the right serving size of Benadryl for your cat. The amount of Benadryl, and the frequency at which you administer it, depends on your cat’s weight and health status. 

Read the ingredients before giving Benadryl to your cat, too. Benadryl, and any diphenhydramine products, may contain ingredients that are dangerous to cats, such as alcohol in liquid formulas or acetaminophen (Tylenol) in some capsules. 

Never give your cat too much Benadryl. High doses of this medication can lead to difficulty urinating, constipation and dry mouth. If you think your cat is overdosing on Benadryl, look out for these signs: 

  • Tremors
  • Sedation and depression (mostly seen in older animals)
  • Hyperactivity (typically kittens will experience this)
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Ataxia (incoordination)
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

When a cat is scratching away due to an allergic reaction, offering them the right dosage of Benadryl under their vet’s supervision could get them the relief they need.

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