Can I Give My Dog Zyrtec?

Can I Give My Dog Zyrtec?Zyrtec is a antihistamine, sometimes used for dogs, to alleviate itchiness and allergy-related skin irritations. Many dog owners consider the use of this medication when a best buddy is suffering with stubborn allergies, specifically those affecting the skin.

Regular Zyrtec is a brand name for Cetirizine which isn’t formulated for canines yet it’s commonly prescribed by most veterinarians. Despite being a powerful drug, regular Zyrtec seems to be well-tolerated by most dogs.

Still, if your vet could prescribe something specifically designed for dogs it would be better. But you can, in fact, use most Zyrtec products if you know the risks and properly dose them for your pet dog. In any case, getting a proper diagnosis is your best course of action.

Can I Give My Dog Zyrtec? Yes, properly dosed with some restrictions

Do not administer Zyrtec-D because it is absolutely toxic and can be life threatening.

Otherwise, people do successfully give this over-the-counter antihistamine to their dogs. There are definitely risks though. In the short term, a medication such as this one may not appear to cause any dire effects. But if used improperly, Zyrtec could render internal damage to your dog’s liver and other vital organs. Remember, it says right on the box, “Prescription Strength”!

Make no mistake, Zyrtec can do more harm than good. Once again, we cannot stress enough that you should never provide Zyrtec-D to a dog since, among other reasons, it contains a dangerous chemical called pseudoephedrine.

Restrictions and Dosing

You must know a few things before providing Zyrtec to a dog. Besides the D version, which might as well stand for Death, all the Zyrtec products contain Cetirizine which is the preferable active ingredient. Never give an antihistamine to a pregnant dog or one that is still nursing. Pet’s with liver disease or other related problems should also not be taking it. Providing it to a puppy is questionable.

Talk with your vet about proper dosage but, as a rule of thumb, half a milligram per pound of body weight taken twice daily is considered reasonable.

A Sensible Perspective

Dogs are very curious beings. They are constantly checking things out with their noses. So it stands to reason that they would be prone to some allergy troubles including pruritus. Removing suspected allergens, when possible, from areas your dog frequents could be a big step forward.

Also, ask yourself, is your dog getting outdoors enough? By their very nature, they should be outside fairly often, to shake themselves off and receive fresh air, which also helps to rid their fur of allergens.

Acting on Allergies

As much as people hate to see a favorite pet struggle, dogs are pretty good at tolerating a bout of itching or sneezing. They don’t make a big deal out of allergy annoyances the same way us humans do. In truth, most cases will pass on their own so one solution is to do nothing! Tomorrow may prove that Zyrtec wasn’t needed after all.

But help with severe allergies is where you come in. If your dog is biting at their own legs, or gnawing at specific parts of their skin then you should act. If you can’t see any good reason for such skin-related problems, like fleas or ticks, then you may have a severely allergic dog on your hands. Professional diagnosis is expensive in the short term but it may go a long way towards permanently eliminating your dog’s allergies. That’s something Zyrtec certainly cannot do!

Tip: If Fido is experiencing itchy skin on a prolonged basis, they may greatly benefit from a drug designed specifically for dogs called Apoquel.

Conclusion on Zyrtec

Never give a dog Zyrtec-D which is basically Sudafed. You can, however, provide regular Zyrtec to treat a dog for some allergies once you’ve become well-informed. Know that this strong medication does nothing to cure or eliminate the underlying reasons for an allergy problem. If your dog’s issues seem to be worsening, especially if they have an acute reaction, get them to a professional instead. More serious symptoms like wheezing, or trouble breathing, are considered emergency situations requiring urgent medical attention.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Carol April, 2016

Can this give my dog the scoots?


Linda August, 2015

Good basic info, but I was frightened to see the Zyrtec-D box as the only product shown on this page. Even though you repeatedly warn not to use that version, some people might look at the box and skip the reading!


Kelley August, 2015

I was also concerned that the picture on the page showed Zyrtec-D, which can be lethal to animals. Instead, they should display the one that’s safe. A lot of people skim through articles and will remember the image only.


Helen January, 2016

Me too! That is very confusing and should be made much clearer! I would have bought the D formula for sure had I not read the entire page.


Leah May, 2015

My vet told us to give our dog one Zyrtec twice a day, not Zyrtec-D, just regular Zyrtec. It has helped her a lot.


Jen February, 2015

I have a 28 kilogram male American Staffy who does the common (for his breed) licking and chewing of his feet to excess due to allergies. My vet suggested one 10mg Zyrtec tablet daily help relieve his allergies. I give these to him every now and again as I find they can make him a little bit sleepy. I also give them with his meal.


Ted February, 2015

I was told to give my dog a antihistamine following a Diamondback Rattlesnake bite to reduce swelling. Is this safe?


Elizabeth December, 2014

They tested Zyrtec on dogs first, before it was available to humans. Vets still prescribe it to pets for allergies.


Kand March, 2015

I never give any antihistamine that has a decongestant in it, ever! So anything that says D at the end is a no-no. Changing foods should be tried. See if it’a certain meat. Maybe a fish-based food would be helpful. Testing should be done to see what allergies your dog has. I give antihistamines because I already know what environmental allergies he has and they are unavoidable. He also takes Atopica and the antihistamines are on the off days. I find that Benadryl does nothing. After trying many, I like Zyrtec as my favorite OTC antihistamine.


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