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Can I Give My Dog Claritin?

Can I Give My Dog Claritin?

Reviewed by: Dr. Robert Menardi, DVM

Allergies are not just a human concern — many dogs also suffer from allergies. Many pet owners will notice their dogs scratching excessively or dealing with other discomforts that hint at allergic reactions. 

The question then arises whether or not a common human antihistamine like Claritin is the answer to your dog’s allergic reactions. Let’s look at dog allergies, antihistamines, and the safest ways to soothe your dog’s itching. 

What Are Allergies and How Do They Affect Dogs?

Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a typically harmless substance known as an allergen. Dogs, much like people, can become allergic to many things, including environmental factors like pollen or dust mites and certain foods. 

When a dog is exposed to an allergen, their body may produce histamines, which lead to an inflammatory response. This response can manifest as itchy skin, ear infections, sneezing, and a variety of other symptoms.

What Are the Common Allergens for Dogs?

Dogs can be allergic to many substances. Environmental allergens like tree, grass, and weed pollens are common triggers, as are molds and house dust mites. Flea bites are also a prevalent cause, where it’s not the flea itself but its saliva that causes an allergic reaction in sensitive dogs. 

While less common, dogs can develop allergies to specific ingredients in their diet, such as beef, chicken, soy, wheat, or dairy. 

How Can You Identify Allergies in Your Dog?

Identifying allergies in dogs can be tricky as the symptoms often overlap with other conditions. The most telltale sign is itchy skin, which can lead to scratching, biting, or licking of the skin, sometimes to the point of causing hair loss or sores. 

Other signs include chronic ear infections, runny eyes, sneezing, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you notice these symptoms, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian. They can perform tests to identify the allergen and recommend appropriate treatments.

What Symptoms Indicate Your Dog Might Have Allergies?

The symptoms of allergies in dogs can vary greatly depending on the cause and severity of the reaction. Some dogs may experience acute symptoms quickly after exposure, while in others, symptoms may be chronic and persistent. 

Common signs to look out for include:

  • Persistent itching and scratching
  • Red, inflamed skin or rashes
  • Recurrent ear infections
  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Coughing, sneezing, and wheezing
  • Swelling of the face, ears, lips, eyelids, or earflaps
  • Changes in the skin, like sores or darkened color
  • Behavioral changes such as increased licking or biting of affected areas

Recognizing these symptoms early and consulting with a veterinarian can help manage your dog’s comfort and well-being. A professional can determine whether these symptoms are allergies or related to another medical issue.

What Is Claritin and How Does It Work?

Claritin is the brand name for loratadine, an antihistamine used to relieve allergy symptoms in humans. Available over the counter, it is commonly used to treat sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms. 

Unlike earlier antihistamines, Claritin is classified as a non-drowsy formula, making it a preferred choice for those who need relief without the sedative side effects.

How Does Claritin Act in the Body?

Antihistamines like Claritin work by blocking histamine action in the body. Histamine is a compound released by immune cells in response to allergens, leading to inflammation and symptoms typical of an allergic reaction. 

Claritin binds to histamine receptors, preventing histamine from exerting its effects, thereby reducing allergic symptoms. This action does not eliminate the presence of allergens but helps to manage the reactions they cause.

Can Claritin Be Used for Canine Allergies?

Though Claritin is designed for human use, some veterinarians may prescribe loratadine for dogs in specific instances. The dosage, however, is crucial and significantly different from human doses. 

It’s also important to note that there are plenty of animal-specific antihistamines that function in the same way as Claritin. For example, Diphenhydramine, Hydroxyzine, Cetirizine, and Fexofenadine can be prescribed to treat a variety of pet allergies. Generally, they’ll strongly recommend treating your dogs with these options instead of using any medications intended for humans.

It’s essential to understand that you should never give your dog Claritin without first consulting with a veterinarian, as they can best determine whether it is an appropriate treatment for your pet’s condition.

Is It Safe to Give Dogs Other Over-the-Counter Allergy Medications?

While some over-the-counter allergy medications can be safe for dogs in the proper doses, others can be harmful. For instance, Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) can be administered to dogs for allergies if recommended by a vet, but the safety depends on the individual dog, the dose, and the dog’s medical history.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Claritin in Dogs?

Although many dogs tolerate loratadine well, potential side effects can occur, especially if the dog has been given an incorrect dose. Side effects may include gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea, drowsiness, or hyperactivity. 

More severe reactions like difficulty breathing or a rapid heart rate could manifest in rare cases, requiring immediate veterinary attention. A veterinarian will consider several factors before recommending an antihistamine like Claritin. 

They must know your dog’s weight, medical history, existing conditions, and current medications to avoid adverse reactions or interactions. The vet will also provide the correct dosage and administration instructions tailored to your dog’s needs.

What Are the Alternatives to Claritin for Dogs?

There are various alternatives to Claritin for managing dogs’ allergies, including other antihistamines that may be safer or more effective. Additionally, your vet might suggest alternative treatments such as fatty acids, special shampoos, immunotherapy, or, in certain situations, prescription medications.

How Can You Help Your Dog With Allergies At Home?

There are several at-home remedies to calm your dog’s itching and support their overall well-being when experiencing allergies.

Natural Remedies

When managing your dog’s allergies, natural remedies may offer some relief. Options include oatmeal baths, which can soothe itchy skin, and supplements with omega-3 fatty acids that may reduce inflammation.

Additionally, simple solutions like frequent washing of your dog’s bedding and using air purifiers can help remove environmental allergens from your home.

Adjustments in the Home Environment

Allergens in your dog’s environment can often be minimized with regular cleaning and adjustments at home. Vacuuming to remove dust and dander, using hypoallergenic bedding, and avoiding walking your dog during high pollen times can all reduce their allergy symptoms.

Over-the-Counter Options 

Some pet-friendly over-the-counter options may include antihistamines specifically formulated for dogs, which a vet can recommend. It’s also beneficial to consider specially formulated pet foods designed to reduce allergic reactions or skin sensitivities or homemade dog food.


Many CBD and CBDA products can soothe itching in dogs experiencing an allergic reaction. While you are identifying the culprit, you can utilize ElleVet’s CBD products to calm their allergy symptoms. 

Similarly, the consistent discomfort and itching can cause your dog stress. Our CBD-based chews could help a dog cope with the discomfort and stress caused by allergies, leading to a calmer demeanor and less compulsive scratching.

Why Is Proper Diagnosis Crucial for Allergy Management?

A proper diagnosis is paramount because treating an allergy requires knowing exactly what triggers your dog’s symptoms. Misdiagnosing or treating an allergy improperly can lead to ineffective treatments or worsening symptoms. Vets can conduct tests to identify allergens and create an appropriate treatment plan.

Always follow the vet’s instructions for any medication, whether antihistamines, steroids, or supplements. Dosage is based on weight and the specific condition being treated. Improper dosing can lead to significant health risks for your pet.

How Can You Maintain Your Dog’s Overall Health?

Beyond treating allergies, maintaining your dog’s overall health with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and preventive care is vital. A healthy lifestyle can strengthen your dog’s immune system, potentially reducing the severity of allergic reactions and improving their quality of life.

Managing your dog’s allergies requires a comprehensive approach that includes proper diagnosis, safe medication practices, and consistent monitoring. Following these best practices and consulting with your veterinarian can help your dog live a comfortable and happy life despite their allergies.

Wrapping Up

Navigating your dog’s allergies can be challenging, but with the right information and veterinary support, you can find safe and effective treatments. While Claritin may be an option for some dogs, always seek professional advice and consider alternatives to ensure your dog’s well-being and comfort.

For more information about all things pet health and behavior, check out our blog. We strive to offer resources and tools for all pet parents looking to support their pets’ health and wellness. 


Antihistamines | NHS

What Do Flea Bites Look Like on Dogs | American Kennel Club

Wheat allergy information for dogs & cast | Wheat Free

Responses of dogs to dietary omega-3 fatty acids | NIH