Benadryl for Cats

Benadryl is a drug that contains diphenhydramine hydrochloride and may be used in cats with allergies or after insect bites, to prevent severe swelling. The drug has been initially formulated for use in humans, but can be used in felines under veterinary supervision.

Antihistamines and Benadryl

Benadryl contains an active ingredient known as diphenhydramine hydrochloride and is from the broad group of antihistamines. Benadryl is the most frequently used antihistamine as it can reduce swelling and prevent the formation of histamines, which are secreted if the cat is allergic.

The drug can be efficient in cats with moderate to severe allergies and may also work well in reducing swelling due to insect bites.

Benadryl for Cats

Benadryl can be used in cats and it is most recommended as a temporary treatment for allergies or to reduce or prevent swelling due to insect bites.

Insect bites can cause serious inflammation, especially if the cat is allergic to the insect poison or if the bite is located on the eye lids, throat or in the mouth. Benadryl has immediate effect and can even save the cat’s life (i.e. the cat may be in danger if the allergies cause anaphylactic shock or the insect bite is situated in the mouth or throat area).

Side Effects of Benadryl in Cats

Benadryl has a few side effects. Taken as a short term medication, Benadryl is safe and may cause minor side effects and make your pet drowsy.

Taken as a long term treatment (i.e. to manage allergic reactions to different inhalants present in the environment), Benadryl may have a few additional side effects including:

  • Lethargy and lack of energy
  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • Dry mouth and bad breath
  • Difficulty to urinate
  • Vision problems
  • Behavioral changes
  • Hormonal imbalance

Not all cats develop side effects, but these must be detected and reported to the vet. Also, if Benadryl is taken for more than 3 months, the cat can develop immunity to the diphenhydramine hydrochloride and may not respond to this treatment. It is important to start using a different type of treatment or antihistamines that don’t contain diphenhydramine hydrochloride.

Benadryl Dosage

The dosage can only be determined by the vet and will be established judging by:

  • The age of the cat
  • The size
  • The condition
  • The severity of the condition

You should never use Benadryl without consulting the vet and human drugs are never recommended.

Benadryl Contraindications

Benadryl is not effective in cats that are pregnant or are lactating. The diphenhydramine hydrochloride may also cause complications.

Benadryl won’t be prescribed to kittens under the age of 6 weeks.

Vets may not recommend Bendaryl in cats with:

  • Prostate issues
  • Eye problems such as glaucoma
  • Heart problems
  • Hormonal imbalance or thyroid disease

The vet should also know if your pet is taking any other medication that could interact with diphenhydramine hydrochloride.