There will be times when your dog will benefit from the use of decongestants. It may be due to respiratory congestion or a type of respiratory infection. There are over-the-counter decongestants you can give your dog with the approval of your vet following a proper diagnosis. In any case, such a visit is usually in order.
If you have a dog with noticeable congestion it is tempting to run to the pharmacy to help ease their discomfort. This is sometimes more detrimental than good. Your dog’s system, including their upper respiratory tract, works somewhat differently from that of a human.
In addition, some dogs take well to human medication while others will suffer from it. Each dog has a different sensitivity level in addition to an allergic profile to various drugs. OTC decongestants are no different, worse actually, which is why a vet’s prescription is the best way to go.
Can I Give My Dog Decongestants? Answer: Only with a vet’s prescription
If you are thinking of giving your dog a decongestant for whatever reason, give your vet a call.
There is a lot of confusion about what a decongestant is verses an expectorant, antihistamine and cough suppressant. Many medicines on the market overlap in treating symptoms and are a concoction of chemical remedies. This is why you really need to consult with your vet for the sake of your dog.
For example, Dextromethorphan is often used for dogs and often it helps but it isn’t really a decongestant. If you use this don’t exceed 1 teaspoon per twenty pounds of dog every six hours.
Working out exactly how much to give your pet, especially if you have a miniature dog, is difficult. Too much can be lethal and too little may not help at all. For example, in larger breeds, some dogs will likely need two teaspoons, where miniature types may only require just three quarters of a teaspoon. Your veterinarian will best advise you on which decongestant to buy after taking into consideration all the factors. They will know the proper dosage for your dog as well.
Determining A Dog’s Weight
Knowing your dog’s weight is key for administering any medicine. If you don’t know it try this. Stand on a scale and weigh yourself and then stand on the scale holding your dog. The difference between the two weights is the weight of your dog. This isn’t 100% accurate, but is one way to try and weigh your pet.
We can’t stress enough the importance of the weight factor for treating your dog any human medication!
There aren’t many safe decongestants you can buy over-the-counter for dogs. Sudafed seems to be the only pure OTC decongestant in pill form.
You can give your dog an expectorant called Guaifenesin. This often includes Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, which is given every six hours or so. It comes in liquid form and one teaspoon per twenty pounds of dog is a reasonable guideline.
Diphenhydramine is useful but requires a vet’s approval and is actually a antihistamine not a decongestant. Similarly, Hycodan is a cough suppressant, not really a decongestant, that can only be prescribed by a veterinarian. This will usually be given in extreme cases. Your vet is only a phone call away!
If need be, you can break a tablet to ensure the right dose is being given. The advantage of this is you can crush the tablet and mix in with their food.
Side Effects of Decongestants in Dogs
Some severe side effects can result from giving decongestants recklessly. If your dog starts vomiting, trembling, becomes hyperactive, or appears to have an elevated heart rate, stop giving the medication immediately and contact your vet right away. An overdose of decongestants can certainly kill a dog.
It is likely your veterinarian will suggest that you bring the dog in immediately for evaluation. Some people try to induce vomiting at home.
So What to Do
Deciding whether to give your dog over-the-counter decongestants or not is in your hands. It is suggested that you only do so with vet approval and their expert dosage recommendation. Once you get the OK, keep a watchful eye on your canine for early signs of a bad reaction. If you notice any harmful side effects, stop the medication immediately and seek professional help.