Antihistamines for Canine Itching

Canine itching is a common symptom of a large number of dog conditions and ailments. Nearly all dogs experience at least one episode of excessive itching over the course of their life, and antihistamines are the preferred method of treating these cases. While not effective in every situation, antihistamines can help to reduce skin irritation and inflammation that leads to excessive itchiness in dogs. Continue reading for an overview of canine itching treatment with antihistamines.

How Antihistamines Work

When your pet suffers an allergic reaction or a sensitivity to a particular substance, his body produces chemicals called histamines that bind to cells in his mouth, nose and eyes. These chemicals lead to inflammation, swelling and other symptoms that cause itchiness. Antihistamine medications block the synthesis of these chemicals, or their ability to successfully attach to your pet's cells, thereby stopping the itchiness before it starts.

Treating Your Pet with Antihistamines

It is important that you recognize the power and dangers associated with antihistamines before beginning any treatment program. These are potent medicines that can have certain side effects in dogs, and some animals will even experience sensitivity to the drugs themselves. As a result, these medications are available through prescription only.

If your dog has been scratching himself to an unusual degree, and if you notice any additional symptoms like red or irritated skin, open sores or discharge, take your pet to the veterinarian right away. The vet can diagnose your pet's condition through a number of different tests. A physical examination is the primary source of information in this case, while skin scrapings, blood samples and other tests can help to confirm a diagnosis. The reason that a proper diagnosis is important before administering any medication to your pet is that there are a wide variety of diseases and conditions that can cause unusual itching in dogs. Some of these diseases are quite serious and require other types of treatment besides antihistamine regimens.

Having diagnosed the cause of your dog's itching, your vet will discuss possible antihistamine treatment options. There are a wide variety of these drugs available, and each dog will react differently to the varied medicines. Some of the most common antihistamines used in canine medicine are:

  • Tavist
  • Benadryl
  • Atarax
  • Seldane

The exact dosage for each medicine depends upon your pet's condition and weight, and it's important that you work with your veterinarian to monitor your pet's intake of the drug and his subsequent reactions.

Most pet owners see results within a few days of the initial dose of an antihistamine. If your pet's condition doesn't seem to improve within a week, it could be a sign of a more complicated health issue. Collect as much information as you can about his symptoms and return to the vet's office for further analysis.

Antihistamines are generally safe for use in dogs and have minimal side effects in most cases. The most common is lethargy. If you have any other questions about these medicines, consult with your veterinarian.