Can I Give My Dog Zyrtec?

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

Regular Zyrtec is a brand name for Cetirizine which isn’t formulated for canines yet it is prescribed by veterinarians. Despite being a powerful drug, it’s well-tolerated by dogs with the exception of the D-version.

Your vet will likely prescribe something else, but you can use some Zyrtec products if you know the risks and properly dose them for your dog. In any case, getting a diagnosis is the best course of action for any pet.

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

But Zyrtec-D (pictured here) is absolutely toxic and can be life threatening.

People can and do successfully provide Zyrtec to their dogs, but there are risks as is the case with any human drug. In the short term, this medication may not appear to cause dire effects. If used improperly, however, Zyrtec could render internal damage to your dog’s liver and other vital organs. This over-the-counter antihistamine can certainly do more harm than good when it’s misused.

We cannot stress enough that Zyrtec-D is never an option for dogs since, among other reasons, it contains a dangerous chemical called pseudoephedrine.

Zyrtec Dosing & Restrictions

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

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

Proper Perspective for Pets

Dogs are very curious and 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.

Ask yourself if your dog getting outdoors enough. By their very nature, they should be outside fairly often. Dogs need to shake themselves off and get fresh air, which also helps to rid their fur of allergens.

Taking Action 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 do not 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 bites at their legs, or gnaws at parts of their skin, then you should probably act. You may have a severely allergic dog, especially if there are no signs of fleas or ticks. A vet’s diagnosis can go a long way towards permanently eliminating your dog’s allergies and that’s something Zyrtec certainly cannot do!

If Fido has long been experiencing itchy skin then they may benefit from a drug designed specifically for dogs called Apoquel.

Conclusion on Zyrtec

Never give your pet dog Zyrtec-D which is basically Sudafed. Regular Zyrtec can be used for allergies but this strong medication does nothing to cure or eliminate the underlying reasons for such problems. If your dog’s allergies are worsening, especially if they have an acute reaction, get them to a professional instead of trying Zyrtec. More serious symptoms, such as wheezing or trouble breathing, are 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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