Is Zyrtec Safe for Dogs?

Allergies are unpleasant for every species. If you’ve mistakenly thought that allergies are specific to humans, then your dog is probably allergy-free. But if you’ve noticed your dog is itchy, prone to licking or chewing their feet, or breaking out in hives, then it’s a safe bet they’ve got allergies. Luckily, there are allergy medications out there that are safe for your dog. Zyrtec is readily available and safe for your dog.

Can Dogs Take Zyrtec?

Yes, Zyrtec is considered a safe medication for your dog. Zyrtec (cetirizine) is an antihistamine that is safely tolerated in dogs and used to treat allergic skin conditions. Although there haven’t been very many veterinary studies done on its effect on dogs, there hasn’t been any indication that it’s dangerous for dogs. It should be avoided in dogs with liver disease, however, to avoid taxing the already weakened or damaged organ.

How Much Zyrtec Can I Give My Dog?

It’s very hard to overdose a dog on an antihistamine, which is partly why it’s so safe. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t administer the drug with caution when dosing your dog. There are different recommended doses depending on what you’re treating. Itchy skin will require a different dose of antihistamine than an allergic reaction to a bee sting, for example.

Atopic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease associated with allergies. It’s most commonly triggered by environmental allergens like pollen and dust mites. You’ll give your dog anywhere from 5 to 10 mg once per day. The amount will depend on your dog’s size and how bad their dermatitis is. You should consult with your vet before you freely dose your dog with an amount you think is safe.

Allergic dermatitis presents from allergic reactions to things like fleas. It usually comes about during exposure to an allergen and disappears when that allergen is removed. You can give 2.27 mg/lb every 24 hours and no more often than that. Your vet might think a higher or lower dose is more appropriate in your dog’s specific case, so you should have a conversation with them about what will work best for your dog. Some vets will recommend more frequent dosing at 2.27mg/lb every 12 hours, but again, this depends on how severe your dog’s case is.

Typical Dog Zyrtec Dosages:

  • 0-15 lbs: 5 mg once per day
  • 16-39 lbs: 10 mg once per day
  • 40 lbs+: 10 mg twice per day

The dosages may need to be higher if your dog’s allergies are significant. However, older dogs might not do well with a higher dose, so your vet might recommend additional medications instead of a larger or more frequent dose.

Take Caution with the Formula You Purchase

Human drug manufacturers sometimes put additional drugs into their medications to reduce how many pills you, as a human, have to take. Zyrtec does have a decongestant formula, so ensure you aren’t purchasing anything like Zyrtec-D. Your Zyrtec should only consist of cetirizine with no additional medications or alcohol.

Are There Any Potential Side Effects of Zyrtec in Dogs?

Dog side effects aren’t typical, and although they’re relatively minor, you should stop giving them to your dog. Some dogs experience hyperactivity, but this typically occurs when your dog has had too much Zyrtec. The most common side effects are vomiting and excessive salivation. While rare, some dogs do become significantly sedated.

Overdose is not likely. During test studies, animals received as much as 220 times the recommended human dose and suffered no long-term effects. If your dog decides to eat their box of Zyrtec in one sitting, you should still call your vet right away for advice.

Recommended Formulas

What Can You Give Dogs for Allergies?

Diphenhydramine is the safest and most effective antihistamine for treating allergies and has minimal dog side effects. The most common is sedation, and some vets prescribe Benadryl for dogs who need to relax on a long airplane ride or experience nausea during car trips. If your dog has severe allergies, you should consider having them tested to find out specifically what they’re allergic to. Some dogs are allergic to an ingredient in their food (chicken or corn, for example) while others might need a steroid in their allergy regimen to experience total relief.

Allergies aren’t something you should leave untreated in your dog, especially if they’re experiencing dermatitis. Raw, irritated, inflamed skin can become painful and prone to sores and infections without treatment. Sometimes all your dog needs is a daily dose of an antihistamine to live an allergy-free life, so the treatment is both easy and inexpensive.

Canine Allergies Explained >