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Can Dimetapp be given to dogs for cold symptoms and/or allergies?
It’s a great question!
First off, when it comes to small animals, pretty much all human-formulated drugs come with potential for harm. And, unfortunately, this grape-flavored decongestant is no different.
While Dimetapp is marketed as a treatment for children, that doesn’t make it safe for dogs!
Medicating your pet for a runny nose or a bout of sneezing is often the wrong approach.
Dimetapp in particular is not recommended for reasons we’ll explain.
Do Not Give Your Dog Dimetapp
Anything that contains Phenylephrine or Acetaminophen should be avoided unless your vet explicitly signs off.
FYI: Most types of Children’s Dimetapp have the same active ingredient found in Sudafed which also happens to be dangerous for dogs.
Breaking Down Dimetapp
Remember, this is a combination drug.
As such, let’s start with Brompheniramine which is a antihistamine that is in at least 3 versions of Dimetapp. Basically, it could make your dog extremely drowsy.
Putting that aside…
Any Dimetapp formulations that include Phenylephrine (which is nearly all of them) will put your dog in harms way!
Make no mistake: This particular decongestant could cause big problems.
Colette Wegenast [DVM] of the ASPCA states, “the most common signs in dogs after ingestion are vomiting, hyperactivity and lethargy.” That’s not all because, “hypertension, heart rate changes and central nervous system stimulation,” cannot be ruled out.
The following versions are off limits based on the active ingredient information found on Dimetapp’s website:
- Multi-Symptom Cold Relief Dye-Free
- Cold & Cough
- Cold & Allergy
- Multi-Symptom Cold & Flu
- Nighttime Cold & Congestion
Caution: Phenylephrine is not exclusive to Dimetapp. It is so important to read the labels on your pharmaceuticals.
The Safest Dimetapp?
Hopefully you’ve been convinced to avoid using this decongestant on your dog.
Quite honestly the risks are unacceptable.
There is a version that could be considered OK for pets. Dimetapp Long Acting Cough Plus Cold stands out because it does not contain Phenylephrine or Acetaminophen.
It is the only variation with Chlorpheniramine Maleate as the antihistamine. It’s combined with Dextromethorphan (also found in Robitussin DM).
An Ineffective Medicine
But wait a second!
An independent double-blind study of Dimetapp (in particular the types containing Dextromethorphan and Diphenhydramine) came to a surprising conclusion:
Placebos work just as effectively!
In other words…
Your dog may not improve after being given Dimetapp. Instead you’d be exposing them to unnecessary risks.
So, what should you do?
Wait for symptoms to subside on their own. Otherwise, get your dog diagnosed to address the root cause(s) for cold and allergy symptoms.
Of course, there are also safer options you could try…
A Dimetapp Alternative
Benadryl is worth looking into if you must go with a conventional pharmaceutical.
But again, often times it is best to do nothing. Your dog will likely be back to normal in no time.
The Bottom Line
Do not give your dog Dimetapp.
Most of the active ingredients are all wrong for animals.
Play it safe. Avoid this over-the-counter children’s product line.
Time is a good remedy for common canine cold or allergy symptoms.
Dimetapp, on the other hand, can do your dog more harm than good.