Hydroxyzine For Dogs - All You Need To Know

Hydroxyzine For Dogs - All You Need To Know

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jul 03 2023


Like humans, dogs can have different types of allergies. Luckily, that potentially dangerous issue can be settled with various medications. One of these medications is hydroxyzine. If your vet advised you to use this medication for your dog, it is natural you’d want to know more about it, especially if there are potential side effects. Here is what you should know about this allergy medication and its effects on dogs.

What is hydroxyzine?

Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine used for treating allergy-related issues like sneezing, itching, swelling, and redness. This medication will also influence the dog’s central nervous system, which makes it kind of a sedative. The FDA has not approved this medication for animal use, but using human medication on dogs is not uncommon in veterinary medicine.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: When using human medications on dogs, it is absolutely crucial you stick to your vet’s instructions. The vet will let you know the exact dosage and frequency of drug administration.

When do vets prescribe hydroxyzine to dogs?

Hydroxyzine is a potent antihistamine, and it is usually prescribed to dogs in cases of severe allergy reactions. If a dog gets bitten by an insect or a snake or has a serious reaction to a vaccine, the vet might prescribe hydroxyzine to them. If the dog’s throat starts spasming up and the dog cannot breathe normally, this medication will open their airways and allow them to breathe without a problem.

Another excellent effect hydroxyzine has on dogs is reducing the inflammation and itchiness from problems like alopecia or severe dermatitis. Plus, this medication can reduce the nausea dogs get from riding in cars. We mentioned earlier that this drug affects the dog’s central nervous system, making it great for dealing with stressful or anxious situations.

Possible hydroxyzine side effects

One of the most important things dog owners want to know is - “Is hydroxyzine safe for my dog?” Generally speaking, this drug is reasonably safe for dogs to use, but dog owners need to follow their vet’s instructions. The exact drug administration for dogs is different than what it says on the bottle, and you should listen to your vet.

Never change your dog’s recommended dosage, especially with drugs that have sedative properties.

This is a very potent medication, so some side effects are expected. Side effects are nothing other allergy medications like Claritin or Benadryl won’t cause. However, since this medication is strong and affects the central nervous system, side effects can differ. The most common hydroxyzine side effects for dogs are;

  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased thirst
  • Trouble urinating
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Behavior change
  • Excitability
  • Seizures

Hydroxyzine dosage for dogs

As we already mentioned, the absolutely crucial thing to follow is the recommended hydroxyzine dosage for your dog. Don’t experiment with the medication; try to find out if a bigger dosage might help your dog more. Follow your vet’s instructions to the dot, and don’t give any medication to your dog without talking to your vet.

The correct dosage of hydroxyzine for dogs is pretty easy to remember. It is 1 mg per pound of your dog’s weight. Dogs can take the medication twice or three times a day, depending on what your vet sees as the best option. Even if your dog shows signs of improvement, keep the regimen until the end.

Word of caution about hydroxyzine

All off-label medications can cause different side effects and potential allergic reactions for dogs. That is just one of the reasons why having a great vet is a necessity. Great vets will know when to prescribe some medications and when to avoid them. Here are some of the cases where hydroxyzine is not the best option for a dog;

  • Dogs with urinary or intestinal issues and obstructions might have problems with this medication.
  • Dogs with high blood pressure, glaucoma, enlarged prostate, heart, or lung disease should avoid hydroxyzine.
  • Pregnant or nursing mothers should avoid taking this medication.
  • Tell your vet if your dog is taking other medications or supplements.
  • If you notice your dog has severe side effects, talk to your vet, and they might adjust the dosage. 

Want to know more about allergy medications for dogs? Check out this article - Which allergy medications can I give to my dog?

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