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Is Claritin Safe to Treat Dogs with Allergies?

Claritin can be given to dogs and the dosage may vary from 5 to 10 mg depending upon the weight of the dogs. The following DogAppy article elaborates more on the safety of Claritin in treating dogs with allergies.
DogAppy Staff
Although Claritin is available over the counter, prior consultation with a veterinarian is a must before deciding to give the medication to your pet.
When it comes to relieving allergy symptoms, loratadine sold under the brand name Claritin is often recommended. It is an antihistamine that helps nullify the effects of histamine, the chemical responsible for causing allergy symptoms such as itchy skin, itchy runny eyes, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and occasional vomiting. People often use Claritin to combat seasonal allergies.
Unlike humans, pets coming in contact with airborne allergens (weed pollen, dander, molds) often suffer from a skin reaction. Although they might sneeze and show watery eyes, in most cases it affects the skin, leading to excessive scratching, and chewing at their paws. On the other hand, an allergic reaction from an insect bite can cause swollen eyes, pawing at eyes, and lumps or lesions on the affected skin.
Is Claritin Safe for Dogs?
Although Claritin has been formulated for humans, its usage on dogs is not a cause for worry. Claritin is generally recognized as safe to relieve allergy symptoms in dogs. Antihistamines such as Claritin are generally well-tolerated by dogs, with occurrence of fewer side effects.
Although Claritin is not free from side effects, they are not as bad as one might expect. When given in the right dosage, your pet is unlikely to develop any adverse reaction to the medication. Some of the less serious side effects of Claritin in dogs are given below:
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • Drowsiness
  • Change in bowel habits
Excess dosage can produce sedation in dogs, so one should confirm the appropriate dose before administering it to your pet.
There is another drug sold under the brand name Claritin D, which many think is the same as Claritin. However, this is not the case. Claritin and Claritin D have different chemical formulations and more importantly, the latter should not be given to dogs. Although Claritin D contains an antihistamine (loratadine), it is also added with pseudoephedrine (decongestant), which can be extremely harmful to dogs. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) has warned that Claritin D has very little safety margin when prescribed for dogs and cats. This means that there is a high probability of pseudoephedrine-containing drugs causing serious damage in dogs. Hence, Claritin D should not be given to dogs to treat allergy.
Also, for mild allergic reactions in dogs, use of Claritin is usually not necessary. For instance, your dog showing itchy, watery eyes, or suffering from mild chest congestion may not necessarily warrant a use of antihistamine therapy. However, swelling of eyes, intense scratching, and skin bumps are classic signs of allergy and require the use of Claritin. Also, serious allergic reactions that cause breathing problems have the potential to be fatal and in such circumstances, administration of antihistamines may be recommended.
A point to note here is that increased scratching in dogs has also been associated with fleas infestation, which means your pet scratching excessively does not always indicate a skin allergic reaction. So, you need to assess whether the symptoms occurring are due to an allergic reaction.
It is also important that you do not combine Claritin with any other antihistamine so as to prevent any sort of adverse allergic reaction. Any other drug interactions with Claritin are also a cause for concern. So, make sure that your pet is not taking any other medicine when put on Claritin.
The dosage of Claritin will vary depending upon the weight of your dog. The range of Claritin dose varies from 0.25 to 0.5 mg/kg. Small-medium dog breeds with a weight ranging from 20 to 40 lbs are generally prescribed with a 5 mg dose of Claritin per day. Whereas large dogs with a weight between 56 and 100 lbs are usually given a 10 mg dose every 24 hours.
On the whole, there might be no harm in giving this allergy medication to your pet but firstly you need to talk to a veterinarian who has been prescribing Claritin for dogs.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a veterinarian.