Have you noticed your dog scratching excessively, biting its feet and legs, getting an upset stomach, sneezing, or having red, itchy eyes? He could well be suffering from good ole’ dog allergies. In this article, we’ll look at treating the sniffles, sneezes, and more with Claritin for dogs, including dosages, counterindications, and alternative treatments.
SUMMARY VERSION: If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you might want to consider Claritin.
What is Claritin D: Claritin for Dogs?
Like all animals, including humans, dogs have evolved a complex immune system over many thousands of years to help keep their bodies healthy and disease-free.
Millions of particles enter the body every day, by being inhaled or consumed, or via the skin or a mucous membrane. It’s the immune system’s job to sort through these particles, eliminating the harmful ones, and letting the safe ones go. However, sometimes this system can go wrong, and it will perceive a non-harmful particle as a threat. When this happens, an allergic reaction occurs.
Particles that cause allergic reactions are called allergens. Common allergens include pet dander, spider mites, house dust mites, fleas, bed bug bites, and tick bites. Food allergies are also common in dogs, as are seasonal allergies, like hay fever.
Claritin is an anti-allergy medication that helps to reduce the symptoms of allergic reactions. Claritin D is another medicine from the same company that also contains pseudoephedrine, a decongestant, to help clear blocked or runny noses and sinus pressure. Both medications are available over the counter, and also as generic versions.
Although it is foremost a medication for humans, it is also possible to use regular Claritin for dogs, as and when directed by a veterinarian. Claritin D should never be given to dogs or other pets, as pseudoephedrine is highly toxic to them.
Is Claritin an Antihistamine?
Claritin’s active ingredient is Loratadine, which is an antihistamine. Antihistamines work to relieve the symptoms of allergic reactions by blocking the action of histamine in the body. Histamine is a substance that initiates an allergic reaction upon coming into contact with an allergen, causing side effects like itching, rashes, sneezing, stomach upsets, and more.
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5 Facts You Need to Know About This Antihistamine for Dogs
- While Claritin Loratadine can stop your pet’s allergic reaction to tick bites, it will not protect against tick-borne illnesses, like Lime Disease. Seek veterinary attention if your dog is bitten by a tick in an area where these diseases are prevalent.
- Claritin comes in a tablet form, and must be swallowed whole (not crushed). If your pets won’t take pills easily, try hiding the pill in a chunk of cheese or a spoonful or peanut butter.
- Never give your dog a higher dose of Claritin than recommended, as overdosing on Loratadine has been known to cause strokes in dogs.
- Alavert is another brand of antihistamine with Loratadine as the main ingredient. There are also a number of off-brand alternatives.
- Claritin should not be given to dogs that have other medical conditions, especially liver or kidney disease. What’s more, pregnant or nursing dogs also should not be given this medicine.
A Dog Allergy Medicine: What is Loratadine for Dogs Used for?
Claritin for dogs works to treat all common symptoms of allergic reactions, but is especially effective for treating reactions to insect bites and snake bites, as well as skin irritations, for example, canine dermatitis (itchy skin).
Canine dermatitis symptoms include itching, resulting in excessive scratching, chewing (especially on the feet and legs), hair loss, and hotspots. Also known as acute moist dermatitis, hotspots are moist, red, irritated skin lesions that can be very sore.
Claritin for dogs is also effective at treating the inflammation associated with mast cell tumors. Especially common in Cocker Spaniels, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors, these tumors are caused by mast cells overgrowing, usually in the digestive system or on the dog’s skin. Mast cells help to protect the dog’s body from parasites, but their overgrowth causes painful swelling.
In addition to these indications, Claritin for dogs is often recommended to help treat the side effects of immunization. Reactions to getting routine shots include fever, loss of appetite, depression, weakness, and lethargy, and will typically last a few days.
Claritin for dogs is often used in combination with other allergy treatment options, such as anti-inflammatory medications, fatty acid supplements, and lifestyle or diet changes.
A Drowzy Pooch: Claritin Side Effects
Claritin for dogs is often recommended by veterinarians thanks to the fact that it is both non-drowsy (unlike Benadryl, for example), and very rarely produces negative side-effects. However, few medications are entirely without side-effects, and your dog may exhibit the following symptoms after taking Claritin:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Drowsiness (though this is rare)
- Urinary retention
- Dry eyes
- Depression or lethargy
If your dog shows any of these symptoms after taking Claritin, stop giving the medicine and seek veterinary attention.
If your dog cannot take Claritin or Loratadine, the active ingredient, your veterinarian may recommend Zyrtec ((generic name: cetirizine), another non-drowsy antihistamine to treat allergies.
Claritin Dosage for Dogs
The following is a just a guide to the dosage of Claritin for allergic dogs: make sure you ask your veterinarian to prescribe the right dosage for your dog based on its weight, condition, and medical history.
- Dogs weighing 1 to 14 lb: 1 dose daily of 5 milligrams
- Dogs weighing 15 to 39 lb: 10 milligrams daily, administered in 2 doses of 5 milligrams each
- Dogs weighing 40+ lb: 20 milligrams, administered in 2 doses of 10 milligrams each
Claritin for dogs should only be given in its tablet form. While the medicine is also available as a flavored syrup and a quick dissolving form (Claritin RediTabs), these may contain the sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
Regular Claritin tablets contain 10 milligrams of Loratadine.
Children’s Claritin: It Can be Safe for Dogs But Not All the Time!
Children’s Claritin can be useful in dosing smaller dogs, as the tablets contain just 2.5 milligrams of Loratadine, rather than the regular 10 milligrams. However, make sure you only give the regular children’s tablet form of Claritin Junior, not the syrup or the RediTabs.
Can Dogs Take Claritin? Yes! But Make Sure You Talk to Your Vet First!
If you have a dog with allergies, it’s horrible to see your pet suffering, and natural to want to offer some relief. While Claritin for dogs can help to stop the symptoms of allergic reactions, it should only ever be given as and when directed by your veterinarian.
Veterinarians can evaluate your pet and quickly determine the seriousness of the issue. For serious cases, we advise you to visit a clinic near you for a thorough examination. When it comes to your pet, it is better to be safe than sorry.