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Can You Give A Dog Claritin or Zyrtec?

Is your dog suffering from seasonal allergies? Just like people dogs can be affected by pollen or other things found in their environment.

If there are trees blooming near your house and your dog is sneezing, the most likely the cause of your dog’s sneezing and watery eyes can be due to allergies. Many people will wonder if they can safely give their dog allergy medication at home just like they take it.

Claritin and Zyrtec are safe treatments to give to a dog to help control mild allergy symptoms. These medications will help with very mild signs while more severe allergies may require prescription allergy medication from your veterinarian. 

As always, you should check with your veterinarian first before giving your dog any new medications. There are also some side effects that you need to look for and sometimes you need to avoid giving these medications and see your vet instead.

Let’s take a further look to better understand how to dose these medications for your dog as well.

Common Signs of Dog Allergies

Before jumping straight into giving your dog allergy medicine, it’s worth verifying that allergies are the actual issue!

Common signs of allergies to see in dogs are:

  • Sneezing
  • Clear discharge from nose
  • Runny eyes
  • Mild cough
  • Red and Itchy skin

If you notice any of these signs, you can assume your dog has allergies. Your vet can help you determine if these signs are caused by allergies or something more serious.

If your dog’s allergies do not quickly improve, a vet visit is always best.

What is Zyrtec and Claritin?

Zyrtec is the brand name for the active ingredient cetirizine.  While Claritin is the brand name for the active ingredient Loratadine

Both of these medications are antihistamine medications that can be used for allergies, itchy skin, or sneezing. Antihistamines block the histamine receptors in the blood vessels, tissues, or lungs that cause your dog to have signs of allergies. 

Zyrtec and Claritin are very common antihistamine that is used in people that can also be given to your dog. Talk with your vet about using Zyrtec or Claritin in your dog for their seasonal allergies.

What dosage of Zyrtec do I use?

The typical dosage of Zyrtec for dogs is 0.5 mg per pound of body weight every 12 to 24 hours.

It is best to talk with your vet before starting any new medication for your dog and make sure that you are giving them the correct amount.

What dosage of Claritin do I use?

A typical dosage of Claritin is 0.2mg per pound of bodyweight every 24 hours.

Depending on the severity of signs that you are seeing your vet may even recommend that you give this medication twice a day.

How do I give these medications to my dog?

Zyrtec or Claritin tablets can easily be put inside a treat and given to your dog. 

In smaller dogs, there is a liquid version of Zyrtec and Claritin that you can give to dogs who refuse to take pills inside treats.

Why would my dog need Zyrtec or Claritin?

Many dogs will suffer from seasonal allergies just like people.  They may have watery eyes and nose, or they may have itchy skin. 

Other common signs of allergies are:

  • Skin irritation
  • Red skin
  • Swelling around the face
  • Rubbing of their face
  • Licking and chewing of feet or legs
  • Hair loss

If you do not treat these allergies in your dog, then your dog can develop a secondary skin infection.  This can cause hot spots or open wounds that will need to be treated. 

In severe cases of allergies, your dog may develop hives or go into anaphylactic shock.  This could be life-threatening and very dangerous.

What are the side effects of Zyrtec or Claritin?

Some dogs can have adverse effects from taking Zyrtec or Claritin. 

Side effects of too much Zyrtec or Claritin in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Unable to urinate
  • Drooling excessively

If you notice any of these signs after giving your dog these medications, it is best to stop giving these medications and see your vet. These signs can be due to your dog taking these medications but can be due to a different health issue.

In rare cases, Zyrtec or Claritin can cause issues with your dog’s liver and kidneys and should be avoided in dogs with liver and kidney issues.

The main side effect that vets see is that your dog has trouble urinating.  If you notice that your dog has not urinated in 12 hours and seems like they have a painfully bloated abdomen, it would be best for your vet to check them out for urinate retention. 

Other medical issues that you should use Zyrtec or Claritin with caution with are:

  • Glaucoma
  • Seizures
  • Older dogs
  • Dogs with a history of liver or kidney disease
  • Pregnant or nursing mother

Before starting your dog on any medication, it is always best to discuss this with your vet. They can help you decide if this medication is best for your dog or if there are better options for you to use.

How can I treat my dog at home with Allergies?

If your dog has allergies, many people will try common over-the-counter allergy medication for their dogs. Two commonly used allergy medications are Zyrtec and Claritin.

While both of these are safe for your dog to take, you should understand what these medications are used for and the side effects that you need to look out for.

What Else Can I Give My Dog for Allergies?

There are many other home remedies for allergies that you can try.  These are a few great choices to give to dogs who suffer from seasonal allergies.

There are other antihistamines that you can also give to your dog.


Benadryl is a common antihistamine that can also be used. 

The dosage for Benadryl is 1mg per pound twice a day. However, it’s worth pointing out that this medication can cause your dog to be more sleepy than normal.


Allegra is also another very popular over-the-counter medication people take. This medication can also safely be given to your dog.

The dosage of Allegra for dogs is 1mg per pound. Allegra is more commonly recommended for dogs who are sneezing due to allergies than have itchy skin.

Oatmeal baths

Oatmeal baths are great for dogs with allergies. This helps soothe and calm irritated skin. There are great shampoos that you can buy to use for your dog like the one below.

Wahl Oatmeal Dog Shampoo

This oatmeal formula pet shampoo is pH balanced, alcohol-free, paraben-free, PEG-80 free, and is highly recommended for moisturizing dry skin & providing itch relief.

Check Current Price!

When you are bathing your dog, it is best to fully lather your dog with the shampoo and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, then fully rinse the shampoo from their fur.

CBD products

CBD has been shown to help decrease the inflammation and irritation of your dog’s skin. CBD works on receptors in the endocannibals system that is found in the skin. 

When CBD attaches to these receptors on your dog’s skin, it will soothe the irritation of your dog’s skin.  CBD will help reduce inflammation and help ease pain associated with allergic skin disease. 

CBD products have also been shown to help with GI problems such as vomiting and nausea.

Note: You can also learn more about the benefits of CBD for dogs in my article here.

Coconut Oil

Mixing a small amount of coconut oil into your dog’s food will help. Offer your dog a small amount of coconut oil to start with and increase until you start seeing results. 

Raw Paws Organic Coconut Oil for Dogs

Coconut oil can be safely consumed for amazing internal benefits such as itch relief and digestive support. Coconut oil for thyroid health, regulation of insulin levels, and metabolism are additional benefits of this superfood!

Check Current Price!

If you give your dog too much coconut oil, you can cause diarrhea. This oil will help decrease the inflammation and make your dog’s coat.

Prescription medications

If your dog has moderate to severe allergies and all home remedies are not helping decrease the allergies, there are two common prescription allergy medications that you can try.

  • Apoquel: Apoquel is a tablet that you can give to your dog every day to help with allergies.  This medication work by blocking the itch-scratch response.
  • Cytopoint:  This is an injection that your dog would get every 6 to 8 weeks for allergies.  Cytopoint is very popular with small breed dogs who refuse to take oral medications or dogs whose owners can forget to give their dog medication. 
  • Steroids: In severe allergic reaction, your dog may be prescribed steroids. This medication will help decrease any inflammation that your dog has. While this medication is very effective at treating allergies, long term usage is not ideal.

When do I need to see my vet?

If your dog is having a severe allergic reaction and is covered with hives or having issues breathing, it may be best for them to see your vet. 

Your vet can start emergency treatment and help your dog become more comfortable and breathe much better. It is best to not delay an allergic reaction as it can become life-threatening.  

Final Thoughts on Claritin or Zyrtec for Dogs

If your dog is suffering from allergies, giving them Zyrtec or Claritin can help manage their allergies.

Many times dogs with allergies will need to be on a constant management program that may consist of medications, supplements, and frequent baths to help keep them itch-free.

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