Can You Give Cats Benadryl? Here's How to Do It Safely, According to a Vet

Benadryl is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve allergy symptoms in humans. So, is it safe to give cats Benadryl? 

A common over-the-counter antihistamine, Benadryl is the brand name for diphenhydramine hydrochloride, with the active ingredient being diphenhydramine. In humans, antihistamines like Benadryl are often used as solutions for various symptoms of allergies like itchy and watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing. Benadryl can also be used to treat symptoms of motion sickness, such as nausea and dizziness. Benadryl can be used in the proper dosage for dogs, but can you give cats Benadryl?

When the correct Benadryl dosage is given, it is generally safe for cats to take and can be a good solution to treat allergy symptoms and allergic reactions in your feline friend. Here's what to know about giving cats Benadryl.

Can You Give Benadryl to a Cat?

orange cat with pill and white background

Yes, you can give give cats Benadryl. Allergies, bug bites, or allergic reactions can happen at any time, and you might not be able to get to the vet right away. In those cases, an antihistamine like Benadryl is a safe and reliable option to treat your cat.

"You can give cats Benadryl as per the dosage recommended by a veterinarian," Dr. Alex Schechter, a veterinarian at Pure Paws Veterinary Care, tells "Benadryl is a brand that comes under antihistamines. It is specially used in cats to treat seasonal allergies, allergic reactions, or motion sickness."

Benadryl is available at most drug stores and pet retailers, both in the form of tablets or liquid for injections. Still, it is always recommended to consult with a vet before buying Benadryl for your cat.

How Much Benadryl Can I Give My Cat?

orange cat with white pill bottle

The recommended Benadryl dosage for cats varies depending on your cat's size.

"Usually, the drug dosage is dependent on the bodyweight of the pet and can be administered every 12 hours," Schechter explains. The typical dosage for cats is 1 mg of Benadryl for each pound of body weight. For example, a 12-pound cat can take roughly half of a 25 mg Benadryl tablet or 4 ml of liquid Benadryl at a time. That being said, Schechter warns cat owners to avoid using it without guidance from a veterinarian.

"It's extremely imperative to seek the guidance of a licensed medical practitioner to get the appropriate dose for your pet," he says. "And it's advisable to provide the doses carefully to your feline based on the vet's advice."

The easiest way to administer Benadryl to your cat is by hiding the medication inside of a Pill Pocket treat or using liquid Benadryl with an oral syringe. If your cat refuses to take it because of the taste or smell, you can also try mixing up crushed Benadryl tablets in their food.

What Are the Side Effects of Benadryl in Cats?

Sad sick young gray cat lies on a white fluffy blanket in a veterinary clinic for pets.

Benadryl is typically a safe drug for cats, but giving your cat any medication does not come without risks.

"Even though it is pretty rare, Benadryl can cause side effects such as respiratory depression, seizures, dry mouth, diarrhea, urinary retention, or vomiting," says Schechter.

There are also some instances in which cats should not take Benadryl at all. If your cat has high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart disease, or another chronic condition, be sure to consult a vet before trying any new medications.

Have you given Benadryl to your cat before? Tell us your experience on our Wide Open Pets Facebook Page!

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