Harper Jefcoat
Harper Jefcoat

Benadryl for Cats - How Much Can You Give to Your Pet Cat?

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13 min read

Benadryl for cats

On This Page

  • What is Benadryl?
  • Can Cats have Benadryl?
  • What is Benadryl for Cats Used for?
  • Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction
  • Is Benadryl Safe for Cats?
  • Benadryl for Cats Side Effects
  • Benadryl Dosage for Cats
  • How to Give Benadryl to Cats?
  • Natural Alternatives to Benadryl for Cats

We understand that your cat means the world to you. We know they are your family members, and you would do anything to make them happy and healthy. However, it is not always easy.

Every pet parent has to face certain problems regarding their pet’s health. In such cases, the owners may find themselves wondering what they should do.

One of the severe health conditions that cats might suffer from is an allergic reaction. Just like humans, cats can experience allergic reactions to several things. It may include food, vaccines, or environmental toxins. Thus, it becomes essential to understand what to do if this problem occurs.

In this guide, we will discuss Benadryl for cats as a popular medication. Continue reading to find out if it is safe for your cat pet or there any reactions associated with it. With this, you can prevent and treat any type of health condition.

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl is a brand name for the drug diphenhydramine hydrochloride. It is an antihistamine used to treat the pain, irritation, and other symptoms of allergies in dogs and cats. The antihistamine blocks the histamine receptors in the body that initiates allergic reactions.

This conventional medication comes in both tablet and liquid form. However, it can be injected if there is a severe reaction. Sometimes, it is also used to treat nausea and insomnia caused by motion sickness. While in humans, it also eases seasonal allergies.

How Benadryl Works?

When histamines attach to the cells, they cause allergic reactions. Dramamine or benadryl for cats is antihistamine. It blocks the histamines from getting attached to the small blood cells and smooth muscles in the cat’s body that, in return, prevents an allergic reaction.

Can Cats have Benadryl?

Many cat parents have this concern in mind that whether or not they can give their cats Benadryl.

Benadryl is not approved by the FDA for use in cats, but it is widely considered safe by the veterinary community. But it is possible for the cats to overdose on the medicine, so make sure to follow the dosage guidelines carefully.

Pregnant cats, cats with a specific health condition, or cats currently taking any other medication should not use it. It may result in a serious reaction. Therefore, the cat owners must contact the vet before giving Benadryl to their cat pet.

What is Benadryl for Cats Used for?

Benadryl benefits cats in the same way as humans. Here are some potential benefits that cats usually receive by using this medication.

  • Cat Allergies

    Unlike hypoallergenic cats, other cats can develop allergic reactions to different things and sometimes without much warning. For example, they can develop food allergies to the same food they have been waiting for for years. Similarly, household cleaners or perfumes can also trigger a serious reaction.

  • Skin Allergies

    Cats can also experience skin allergies that can cause itching, redness, and inflammation. Such allergies are often hard to detect until they become severe. In such conditions, Benadryl for cats in heat can help.

  • Reactions of Vaccinations

    Some cats are prone to have adverse reactions to a specific vaccine and medicine. It is recommended to have a check on your cat after they start taking any new medication. In some cases, the situation can get worse and even becomes difficult for Benadryl to control.

  • Bug Bites

    If you live in an area where mosquitoes thrive, your cat will most likely get insect bites. Such bug bites can cause scratching and itching for a couple of weeks. Keep an eye on these bites and ensure that they are healing properly.

    On the other hand, some cats may experience a bee sting. For this, remove the stinger first and then give a lethal dose of Benadryl for cats.

  • Mild Sedative

    Most cats don’t like to travel much, and being confined to a crate for many hours can cause panic. In such cases, vets usually recommend Benadryl for cats traveling with mild sedatives. It is used to calm your pet until you reach the final destination.

  • Cat Cold

    Benadryl is proven to be useful in controlling the symptoms of cat cold. However, it does not cure it. Instead, it requires antibiotic treatment to treat such viral or bacterial infections.

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

It is important for pets owners to understand the common symptoms of an allergic reaction. This will help them decide whether or not to use flavored or unflavored Benadryl for cats.

The following are common symptoms of allergies.

Let us discuss these symptoms in detail.

  • Sneezing

    Cats sneeze if exposed to smoke or dust. Of course, it is normal, but you should consider the possibility of allergies if the cat is sneezing more than usual.

  • Coughing

    Coughing can be a sign of allergy, especially when the cat has a preexisting condition like asthma. The owners must get it checked immediately as severe coughing can affect the lungs.

  • Wheezing

    Cats also wheeze when exposed to an environmental allergen. Here, again the pet owners need to ensure that it is due to an allergy or bacterial pneumonia.

  • Itchy Skin

    Itchy skin is the major sign that your cat is suffering from allergies. It can also lead to constantly biting or itching the tail or back. Some food allergies make the cat’s neck and head itchy.

  • Irritated Eyes

    Allergies can also cause the cats to have red and itchy eyes. Make sure it does not involve any infection.

  • Ear Infections

    Similarly, allergic reactions can also lead to many ear infections along with constant ear irritation.

  • Vomiting & Diarrhea

    Food allergies are directly related to gastrointestinal issues that include cat vomiting and diarrhea. They are also considered non-specific symptoms.

  • Snoring

    Environmental allergens can cause the cat’s throat to become inflamed. In return, it restricts the breathing passage that causes snoring.

  • Swollen Paws

    When you notice your cat pet chewing on their feet, you may find that they have swollen paw pads. It is a major sign that your cat is suffering from allergies.

  • Anaphylaxis

    In case of a severe allergic reaction, Anaphylaxis can occur. It can lead to death if not treated properly. The common symptoms are vomiting, trouble breathing, seizures, and frequent urination.

Is Benadryl Safe for Cats?

Generally, Benadryl is considered to be safe for cats if used correctly with other medications. Thus, it is recommended to contact your veterinarian to ask about using it because some cats should not take it. These may include the following:

  • Cats with certain medical conditions
  • Pregnant or nursing cats
  • Cats who are allergic to diphenhydramine

If you are using Benadryl because your cat has symptoms like itchy skin, follow up with your vet. Keep in mind, this medicine will treat the symptoms, but it does not cure the underlying cause behind them.

For example, the cat might be suffering from an allergic reaction to flea bites. However, just treating the cat for the itching without addressing the infestation will not work. Instead, such cats need additional medical care to address the primary reasons.

In severe allergic reactions, cats may experience signs like swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing. Here, Benadryl is not enough to reduce severe reactions. Similarly, an overdose of Benadryl can also have negative side effects, often leading to death.

Avoid giving your cat Benadryl if she is taking any of the below-given medications that include:

  • Amitraz
  • Central Nervous System Depressants
  • Epinephrine
  • Furazolidone
  • Selegiline
  • Heparin Sodium or Calcium
  • Warfarin Sodium

If the vet approves that the Benadryl is safe for your cat pet, there are specific things that you must be aware of.

  • Do not give your cat the same dosage you give yourself
  • The medication is always given orally in either liquid form or tablet
  • Only give your cat pure and plain Benadryl. Check the label to ensure no other medication is added

Benadryl for Cats Side Effects

Along with the benefits, it is important to understand the potential side effects of using Benadryl. Here are some common side effects that you might notice in your cat.

  • Sedation
  • Hyperexcitability
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drowsiness

Cats usually show any of these signs within one hour of taking medication. If you notice any of these side effects, closely monitor your cat to ensure the reaction does not worsen.

Consult the vet as they will tell you what to do next based on the cat’s health condition. Also, give the recommended dose of Benadryl to the cats.

Benadryl Dosage for Cats

You can buy Benadryl at local pharmacies and grocery stores. It is sold both in solid or liquid form. The only active ingredient should be diphenhydramine HCl.

The typical dosage of Benadryl is 2-4 mg for an average-sized cat. Therefore, most vets recommend liquid Benadryl because a small amount is needed, and you can’t break a tablet into tiny pieces. This dosage can be given every 8-12 hours.

  • Liquid Benadryl

    Most pet parents like to use liquid Benadryl for cats to treat their allergies. It is available in 12.5 milligrams per pound and the 5-milliliter liquid suspension is easier as compared to tablets.

  • Benadryl Tablets & Capsules

    This medicine also comes in 12.5 milligrams and 25 mg tablets or capsules. However, it is not a lethal dose of Benadryl for cats as only 2-4 mg is needed for the average dose.

  • Buy a Syringe

    It is highly recommended to purchase a 1 ml or 3 ml syringe to ensure that you are giving the exact dose to the cat. Be careful as overdosage can be dangerous.

  • Consult the Vet

    It is better to consult the vet about the exact dose of Benadryl that your cat should take. The above-given dosage is recommended for the average cat, and every cat is different when it comes to health care.

Cat’s Body WeightBenadryl (mg)Liquid (12.5 mg per 5 mL)Tablets (25 mg)
6 pounds6 mg2.5 ml1/4 tablet
8 pounds8 mg3 ml1/4 tablet
10 pounds10 mg4 ml1/4 tablet
12 pounds10 mg4 ml1/2 tablet
15 pounds15 mg6 ml1/2 tablet
20 pounds20 mg8 ml1/2 tablet
25 pounds25 mg10 ml1 tablet

How to Give Benadryl to Cats?

Hold your cat in your lap or place her on a table while giving Benadryl tablets. Carefully point the pet’s head toward the ceiling and open the mouth by placing one finger on the lower teeth. Place the pill as far back into the throat as possible.

Then allow the cat to close the mouth and gently stroke under the chin to encourage her to swallow. Hold the cat’s mouth close until you know she has swallowed the pill.

In case you are giving a liquid Benadryl, use the measuring syringe to measure the correct dose of the medicine. Position the syringe inside the mouth, behind one of her canine teeth.

Place the syringe far back into the mouth to the back of the tongue. Then gently and slowly put the liquid into the cat’s mouth and give your cat time to swallow and breathe.

Whether giving liquid or tablets, softly blow on your cat’s face and nose. It may encourage her to swallow the medicine. If your cat gives you a tough time taking medicine, you can also hide the tablet into cat food or mix the liquid into food.

Generally, cats dislike the taste of Benadryl, whether it is in liquid or tablet form. Therefore, it is important to work with a compounding pharmacy to transform a liquid Benadryl into a flavor that she likes.

Natural Alternatives to Benadryl for Cats

Cat owners mostly look for natural alternatives to help their cats with allergies. Below are the best natural alternatives to Benadryl for cats:

  • Fish Oil

    Fish oil is a good source of fatty acid omega-3 that reduces infections and enhances the skin’s immunity. Moreover, it is considered anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce itching and hot spots.

    Thus, consider adding it to your cat’s food but avoid cod liver oil as it is too high in vitamin A and D for cats.

  • Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil contains lauric acid that is used to stop the production of yeast in your cat. It has the power to prevent cell damage by repairing their itchy and dry skin. You can apply it easily since it is non-toxic if the cat licks it.

  • Chamomile

    Chamomile contains apigenin that inhibits chemicals causing inflammation. Also, it works as an antiseptic that can kill yeast and other bacteria. Just brew chamomile tea and apply it as a spray. However, you can also dip a comb in the solution and brush it in.

  • Acidophilus

    This bacteria helps regulate the immune and digestive systems and makes it less likely for the cat to develop any allergies. If the cat already has some reactions, acidophilus may stop them from getting worse.

  • CBD Oil for Cats

    When CBD oil enters the cat’s body, it interacts with CB2 receptors. Then it further activates the endocannabinoid system that helps to manage inflammation throughout the body. Therefore, CBD oil is used to reduce seasonal allergies in cats.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

    Because of its antibiotic and antibacterial properties, it is used as a wash to remove irritants from a pet’s skin. You can also use this vinegar to help with ringworms and fleas. Just mix it with equal amounts of water and apply it to the cat using a paper towel.

    At the end of the day, cat owners want the very best for their cat pets. For this, they have to be prepared for unexpected allergic reactions. Benadryl is safe for most cats as it helps to reduce cat allergies.

    Nevertheless, it is crucial to follow the vet’s guidelines for the appropriate dosage. Make sure that your veterinarian is well aware of any other health conditions so that no additional complications arise.

    If you are planning to adopt a cat as an emotional support animal, know and understand these issues. It will help you to take care of your support cat so that you can spend quality time with her.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Benadryl kill a cat?

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Yes, an overdose of Benadryl can often kill a cat. Typically, the cats start to experience the effects of Benadryl after 8 to 12 hours of taking medicine.

What can you give a cat to calm them down?

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The following herbs must be given to cats to calm them down.

  • Valerian
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Bach rescue remedy
  • Hops

How can I treat my cat's allergies naturally?

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Here are some home remedies to treat your cat’s allergies naturally.

  • Get rid of the plastic food dishes.
  • Avoid using tea tree oil to treat skin conditions in pets.
  • Don’t give excessive amounts of treats.
  • Add pure oil to your cat’s diet.
  • Wipe allergens from the itchy skin with an oatmeal soak.

How long does Benadryl last in cats?

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This medicine lasts for about 24 hours in a cat’s body. However, the effects can be longer, often leading to liver or kidney disease.

How do I find out what my cat is allergic to?

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The best way to find out what your cat is allergic to is by scheduling a blood test for allergies with your vet.

How long does it take for cat allergy symptoms to go away?

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It usually takes 20 to 30 weeks for the cat allergic symptoms to go away.

Harper Jefcoat


Harper Jefcoat

Harper Jefcoat is a dedicated pet enthusiast and expert author at the RealESALetter.com. With a deep-seated passion for animals, Harper brings a wealth of knowledge and personal experience to his writings. Specializing in canine behavior and wellness, he aims to help pet owners understand and care for their furry friends better.

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