Can Dogs Take Loratadine?

If you’re one of the few people who suffer from allergies, then you know how bothersome the effects are. Unfortunately for our dogs, allergies are not very forgiving to their kind either. Itchy eyes and paws. Incessant scratching. Sneezing. It’s just painful to watch. And then it hits you:

Can I give my dog my loratadine?

It turns out you can. However, there are things you must keep in mind for your dog’s safety. In this article, we’ll be discussing the recommended dosage, the side effects, safety guidelines, and other options available.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

bulldog

What is loratadine (Claritin)?

Loratadine or commonly known as Claritin is an H1 antihistamine. It’s part of the second-generation antihistamines that don’t cause drowsiness in dogs (and humans). Not only that, but Claritin is also considered to be the strongest in its class. It can treat acute inflammatory and allergic reactions such as snake bites, vaccination reactions, blood transfusion, and itchy skin. Aside from that, Claritin is also administered immediately after insect bites and bee stings to reduce the effects of poison. 

But why is Claritin so effective? When H1 receptors and histamines combine, it causes the small blood vessels to dilate resulting in tissue swelling and itchiness. What H1 antihistamines do is it prevents the binding from happening. Thus, preventing itchiness and swelling. 

Note that while loratadine is an effective drug against allergic reactions, it can only relieve your pooch of the unpleasant symptoms for a while. But it does not treat the allergy itself. He may suffer again when the drug wears off or when he comes into contact with the allergen.

Is it safe to give loratadine to my dog?

Yes, provided that it’s given with the right dosage. Although the use of loratadine for dogs hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, veterinarians prescribe it as an extra-label drug. There are formulations, however, that you can’t give your dogs. For example, Claritin-D is a combination of pseudoephedrine and loratadine. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that’s dangerous for dogs even in the smallest amount. Claritin in quick-dissolve form is also a dangerous variety as it may contain Xylitol. The liquid form may be given but the alcohol content in it may be too high for dogs. 

A trick to looking for a formulation that’s safe for your dog is to check the active ingredients in the label. What you want is a label that says the only active ingredient is loratadine. If you’re not sure, the pharmacist can assist you with this.

Other precautionary measures you must observe are in the next section.

golden retriever puppy

Guidelines for use

The first thing you should make sure of is not to give Claritin without the knowledge of your veterinarian. Drug interaction is possible with loratadine. And your vet can adjust the dosage accordingly based on the medications he is currently taking. Ketoconazole, cimetidine, a furanocoumarin, and erythromycin, for example, are dangerous medications to pair with. Pet owners should also be careful not to mix loratadine with other antihistamines. Dogs that show adverse effects to desloratadine (Clarinex) should not be given Claritin. 

For pregnant dogs: There is no sufficient information on whether loratadine is safe for pregnant dogs. Hence, for safety purposes, it shouldn’t be given to them. Zyrtec is a better option in this case.

Similarly, puppies, nursing dogs, dogs with liver disease, and kidney disease is also not fit to take this drug. If your dog has a dry eye, it should be taken with caution as well as it has been known to decrease tear production in humans. 

Claritin Side effects

Taking loratadine doesn’t have many adverse effects. However, your dog may show one of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Urinary retention
  • Racing heart 
  • Drowsiness (rarely happens)

Inform your vet if your pup shows any of the symptoms above. While they are nothing to be worried about, it’s best to let your veterinarian know so he can adjust the dosage to get rid of the side effects. 

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Dosage

Note: This section is for informational purposes only. Your vet’s prescribed dosage should still be followed.

Loratadine is given at a rate of 0.12 – 0.22mg/lb. The Valley Veterinary Hospital presents the typical dosage as follows: 

  • For dogs weighing 1 to 14 lbs. – 5mg
  • For dogs weighing 15 to 39 lbs. – 10mg (administered twice per day, 5mg each)
  • For dogs weighing 40lbs and above – 20mg (administered twice per day, 10mg each)

The regular Claritin tablets contain 10mg of loratadine. You may need to break them in half for a smaller dose. Another option would be to use the children’s formula as they contain 2.5mg of loratadine per tablet. Furthermore, Claritin may be given with or without food. However, they are a bit better. Thus, you may need to do some other trick to make your dog take them. 

Now, you might ask, how long should I keep giving loratadine?

The administration period varies for each pet. Adverse effects, responsiveness to the medicine, and the condition being treated can influence the treatment period. Nevertheless, always complete the recommended prescription period directed by your veterinarian. Additionally, if Claritin does not seem to work for your dog, don’t be frustrated. Antihistamines don’t work the same for every animal. It’s basically a trial and error to find out which works best for your dog. You can talk to your veterinarian about other options. But for now, here are some other things you can try.

puppy sleeping on the floor

Alternatives

  • Allegra

Allegra is a second-generation antihistamine. It’s also effective in reducing the uncomfortable effects your dog is experiencing from his allergy. You can read more of this on Can dogs take Allegra?

  • Benadryl

Benadryl is an antihistamine recommended by most veterinarians. It’s a first-generation antihistamine. It can help ease allergic reactions, inflammation, and even motion sickness in dogs. 

Also related: Can dogs get carsick?

  • Zyrtec (Cetirizine)

Cetirizine is another antihistamine that’s used to treat itching caused by atopic dermatitis. It’s also an effective treatment for hives and insect-bite reactions. 

  • Omega 3 fatty acid

While there are medications known to create a negative interaction with loratadine, there are other supplements that work well with the drug. One of which is omega 3 fatty acid supplements. Omega 3 helps reduce inflammation and keeps your dog’s coat and skin healthy. You can opt for dog food rich in Omega 3 or you can try a fish oil supplement. 

Conclusion

Loratadine is a safe drug to give to your dog as long as it’s vet-approved and with the right dose. It’s widely available, effective, and relatively safe for our canine friends. Just make sure that you follow the safety guidelines above. Stay away from Claritin-D and the quick-dissolve formula as they may contain ingredients that are toxic for your dog.

Ultimately, for any medicine, you want to take the time to learn about the drug so you know what to expect. And if you’re in doubt, always ask your veterinarian for advice. You can never go wrong with that one! 

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Becky

Becky

4+ cats and 2 dogs over the past decade, loves to write, not a huge fan of coffee... but LOVES her pets! Read More
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