Antihistamine creams (e.g. Benadryl cream) can be prescribed to control itchy skin and relief bug bites in dogs and cats. Are antihistamine creams safe for pets? Are there any contraindications or precautions to be taken? Will the cream work better compared to administering antihistamines orally? Let’s find out.
When to Use Antihistamine Creams (e.g., Benadryl Cream)
Antihistamine creams are generally used for the following in pets: itchy spots on the skin, insect bites (bugs, fleas), rashes (including rashes caused by poison ivy), skin burns and skin irritations. Benadryl cream is helpful for anything caused by secretion of histamines (inflammatory cells). Even though topical Benadryl for dogs is considered extremely safe, do talk to your veterinarian prior to applying it.
Topical vs. Oral Antihistamines
The most notable benefit of antihistamine cream vs. oral administration of antihistamines is that the cream works faster. If the sores are making your pet miserable, using Benadryl cream can provide relief instantly. On the other hand, in many cases antihistamine cream alone may not do the trick. Your veterinarian may also prescribe oral Benadryl, steroids, or antibiotics, depending on the severity and whether there’s a secondary infection present. Your veterinarian will work on developing a unique treatment plan for your dog with the proper dose of the medication(s) prescribed.
Is It Safe to Use Benadryl Cream for Dogs?
Topical Benadryl is as safe as oral. It has the same side-effects, which are rare to minor. However, you need to be careful regarding the area of application. For example, ears and ear canals. If your pet is shaking their head and scratching their ears, I would talk to the vet straight away. It can be an ear infection or something else that would require a different treatment.
The same goes for the rear end. If a dog’s anal area is itchy, it could be that the animal’s anal sacs are full and need to be drained, or that there’s an abscess or infection in the anal sacs. In this case, Benadryl cream may be of little help and the vet will either need to drain the sacs or prescribe medicine.
My friend uses Benadryl cream every once in a while on her 7 year old Mini Foxie and she gives some good tips on how to make sure that the cream works. First, the dog needs to be bathed and the affected areas need to be cleaned thoroughly. If the dog is hairy, shaving or trimming the hair will help. The ointment needs to be rubbed in until the skin absorbs it.
Most dogs will start to lick the area where the cream was applied, and you need to keep them from doing it. For example, you can attach a cone collar to their head to prevent licking and rolling on the floor. If you don’t have a cone collar, stick around your furry friend for a while and if you see them scratching, divert their attention from it.
Benadryl ointment is a safe and cheap option for treating itchy skin and bug bites in pets. It is so safe that your vet will probably be able to prescribe it by phone. Also remember that you can do a lot on your own too, such as try to find out what’s causing the reaction in your dog and remove that allergen.