Can dogs take Claritin? We decided to take a look at the facts. We all know that allergies can cause a number of symptoms in people.
Sneezing, itchy eyes and a runny nose are just the symptoms we can see. But what about pets? Unfortunately, allergies in pets are just as common as they are in us.
Dogs, cats, and other types of pets can suffer from similar allergies, including sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes. Can your pet take Claritin? This is what you need to know
What Is Claritin?
Loratadine, sold under the brand name Claritin among others, is a medication used to treat allergies.
This includes allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and hives. It is also available in combination with pseudoephedrine, a decongestant, known as loratadine/pseudoephedrine. It is taken by mouth.
Common side effects include sleepiness, dry mouth, and headache. Serious side effects are rare and include allergic reactions, seizures, and liver problems.
Use during pregnancy appears to be safe but has not been well studied. It is not recommended in children less than two years old. It is in the second-generation antihistamine family of medication.
Loratadine was patented in 1980 and came to market in 1988. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines. Loratadine is available as a generic medication. In the United States, it is available over the counter.
In 2018, it was the 76th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 10 million prescriptions.
What is Claritin Used For?
Just like people, dogs with allergies suffer from itchy, red eyes and runny noses. Affected dogs can also suffer from extremely irritated and itchy skin, which can cause uncontrollable fits of scratching to relieve agitation.
This constant itching, biting, and scratching can lead to many skin issues, including deep scarring and bacterial infections from open wounds.
When dog allergies are at a high, veterinarians may prescribe Claritin to relieve allergy symptoms and therefore prevent more skin damage.
Additionally, Claritin can help alleviate symptoms of canine atopic dermatitis, which is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition resulting from hypersensitivity to normal environmental substances like dust.
Affected dogs are incredibly itchy, leading to constant licking and biting in an attempt to relieve allergy symptoms. If atopic dermatitis is not treated promptly, it can quickly lead to the development of hot spots and bacterial infections.
Signs of Allergies
Before considering whether Claritin can help your dog, pet owners must be able to recognize allergy symptoms and understand that allergies and allergic reactions have variable severity. Even if your dog's symptoms are relatively mild, your dog may still find relief from an allergy medication.
Sneezing is one of the most obvious signs of allergies in people and animals and is often prompted by an environmental allergen like pollen. Of course, occasional sneezing is normal. Persistent sneezing, particularly if it occurs simultaneously with an event (e.g., opening the windows, spraying perfume), is likely allergy-related.
Nasal discharge can accompany sneezing. When sneezing results from allergies, the discharge is typically clear. Yellow or green discharge indicates an infection requiring treatment.
Wheezing may also be caused by certain environmental allergens, particularly if the dog has any pre-existing breathing issues. Before prescribing an allergy medication like Claritin, your veterinarian will need to definitively identify allergies as the cause of wheezing and rule out other causes, such as bacterial pneumonia.
Dogs with allergies may cough, especially if they have a medical condition that affects their breathing (e.g., asthma). Once again, your vet will need to rule out serious health issues, like heart failure, that could be causing the coughing.
If a dog’s allergic reaction narrows the airways, snoring will often ensue.
Chronic Ear Infections
It may surprise readers to learn that chronic ear infections are a telltale sign of allergies in dogs. If your dog is constantly pawing at their ears or has persistent wax buildup within the ear canal, ask your vet whether allergies may be to blame.
Itchy, Irritated Skin
Itchy, irritated skin is one of the most common signs of allergies in dogs. Although people often associate itching with bug bites, dogs can experience itchy skin from just about any allergen. Itchy skin on the back and base of the tail indicates flea allergies, while itchy, irritated skin on the paws and ears typically indicates food allergies.
Red, Itchy Eyes
Like people, dogs with allergies will often experience red, itchy eyes. Be mindful that, although eye discharge is an allergy symptom, it may also indicate something more severe, like a bacterial infection. If your dog has eye irritation, do not automatically assume allergies, as the irritation may require antibiotic treatment.
Gastrointestinal (GI) Issues
Allergy symptoms in dogs, particularly food allergies, also include GI problems. Diarrhea and vomiting often occur if a new food doesn't agree with Fido's digestive tract.
Swollen Itchy Paws
Finally, swollen, itchy paws are a sign of allergies in dogs. If your dog is constantly biting or licking its paws, swollenness and tenderness will often follow.
Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction
Although occasional mild allergies are usually little more than an annoyance, severe allergies must be treated as a medical emergency because of the potential for anaphylaxis, which is a form of shock that can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Clinical signs of anaphylaxis include:
- Trouble breathing
- Excessive vomiting
- Excessive lethargy
- Uncontrollable urination
- Uncontrollable bowel movements
If you think your dog is having a severe allergic reaction, seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Can You Give A Dog Claritin?
A number of different substances can cause dogs to suffer allergic reactions. And although dogs tend to get itchy skin rather than red eyes and runny noses, allergies are just as maddening for them as they are for us.
Some dogs are allergic to things in their diet, but the majority of allergies result from pollen, dander, smoke, or other things in the environment.
While dietary allergies can often be eliminated by switching foods, it is rarely possible to shield your dog from environmental triggers.
Accordingly, most vets and owners must settle for treating the symptoms caused by the offending substance, rather than directly preventing the allergic reaction itself.
Fortunately, there are a number of medications – including loratadine (brand name Claritin) – that can provide relief to dogs suffering from allergies.
But before you go rummaging through your medicine cabinet, you’ll want to contact your vet and solicit his or her approval first.
Also, it is important to familiarize yourself with the facts about Claritin, as well as the basics of allergic reactions.
Is Claritin safe for dogs?
Claritin is a safe drug for use in dogs when given at the correct dosage, and is along the same lines as Benadryl, but with the added advantage of not causing drowsiness in your pet.
Smart Dog Owners says that it is imperative that you check the label on the Claritin to make sure it’s safe for your dog.
You should check the active ingredients on the packaging before using Claritin, as some of their products contain other substances which may be harmful to pets.
For example, you want to stay away from Claritin-D which also contains pseudoephedrine.
If the packaging lists only loratadine as the active ingredient, then that is what you want. The pharmacist will be able to help you with this if you’re confused. You should avoid
administering Claritin alongside other medicine of the same class (other H1 histamine antagonists) as mixing could lead to overdose symptoms.
If during the course of treatment your dog begins to display any unforeseen negative side effects you should stop use immediately and seek veterinary instruction.
Claritin Side Effects and Contraindications
Claritin doesn’t cause many negative side effects, but some dogs may experience one or more of the following:
- Urinary retention
- May make seizures more likely
Additionally, while it isn’t clear if these side effects can occur in dogs, some people complain of headaches, hyperactivity, depression, dry eyes, or rapid heart rates after taking Claritin.
Contact your vet if you notice your pet displaying any of these symptoms.
They typically aren’t very serious, but your vet may be able to adjust the dosage or prescribe other medications to help alleviate these side effects.
For example, some dog-safe eye drops can help with the dry eyes issue.
Claritin may cause drowsiness when administered along with some antibiotics and antifungal medications, so be sure that your vet knows about all of the medicines your dog is taking.
Claritin is largely considered safe, but its use requires caution in some cases.
For example, it should be used carefully in dogs who’re already suffering from urinary retention, some types of glaucoma, or gastrointestinal obstructions.
Also, it hasn’t been well-studied in pregnant or lactating animals, so be sure to check with your vet before administering it to reproductively active females.
Similarly, your vet may not recommend giving the medication to young puppies.
Claritin dosage for dogs
The regular dosage of Claritin (loratadine) for dogs is 0.2 mg for each pound your dog weighs. Typically vets will recommend 5 mg every 24 hours for small to mid-size dogs, and 10 mg a day for larger dogs such as Labradors.
You should take your dog to see the vet first before using this medication for specific dosage information, as cases vary. As an example dosage, a 50 lb dog would need 10 mg of the drug (0.2 x 50).
Always administer the dosage advised by your vet and never exceed the safe amount.
Alternative Strategies for Treating Allergies
Claritin is very helpful for treating dogs with allergies, but it isn’t the only game in town. Some dogs respond better to other treatment strategies, including the following:
There are a number of other antihistamines, such as Allegra, that may provide your pup with relief if your dog won’t stop itching, so your vet may recommend switching things up if Claritin doesn’t have the intended effect.
Dogs exhibit varying reactions to different antihistamines, so a bit of trial-and-error is often necessary to find the best one.
Corticosteroids are often the most effective medications for treating allergic reactions, but they can cause serious health problems when used on a long-term basis. Accordingly, they’re most commonly used to treat short-term environmental allergies.
For example, dogs allergic to given tree pollen will typically only need treatment for a month or two each year. Such dogs are better candidates for these treatments than those who are allergic to substances like dander or smoke, which are present all year long.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, and they often help resolve skin and coat issues. You can find commercial foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids or you can use a standalone fish oil supplement to increase the amount in your dog’s diet.
Sensitivity treatments involve a series of injections that contain a minute quantity of an allergic trigger.
By exposing your dog’s body to tiny amounts of an allergen, his body will often adjust and stop viewing the allergen as a dangerous substance. However, sensitivity treatments are a bit hit-or-miss, and they don’t always work.
Immunosuppressive Drugs (Cyclosporine)
Allergic reactions are triggered by the body’s immune system, so it is occasionally helpful to administer immune-suppressing drugs to help dampen the body’s immune response.
Cyclosporine is often very effective, but it can cause vomiting and reduce your dog’s appetite. It is also an expensive treatment, especially for large dogs.
“Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.”—Agatha Christie