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What to do in the event of an allergic reaction

July 11, 2017

Just like in people, our pets can have allergic reactions. Let’s take Dory as an example. Dory was out on a nature walk with Dr. Brownlee. Shortly after coming home, she vomited a large amount of bile and started itching herself. Then Dr. Brownlee noticed hives everywhere!

Dr. Brownlee swiftly gave her Benadryl and her reaction subsided without any additional intervention.

In many cases we don’t know what our patients are reacting to. Possibilities include medications, chemicals, environmental allergens, and insect bites. In Dory’s case it was likely an overwhelming number of insect bites on her walk outside in the woods.

Signs of a mild allergic reaction:
Redness of the skin
Itching, rubbing, scratching, and chewing
Feeling warm to the touch

Signs of a significant allergic reaction:
Swelling of the face

Indications that the reaction is life threatening:
Difficulty breathing

In the event of any allergic reaction, consulting with your veterinarian should be your first step!  

The treatment for an allergic reaction depends on the severity of the allergic response. For mild reactions, in many cases, it is treated with an antihistamine such as Benadryl. This can be given orally at home or by injection through your veterinarian.  If you need to give a dose of oral Benadryl at home, the dose for dogs is generally 1 mg per pound of body weight meaning a 25# dog would receive 25 milligrams, a 50# dog would receive 50 milligrams, and so on).

Dory, being a Great Dane, received 150 mg of Benadryl and it made her feel much better!

If a dosage of Benadryl does not appear to be working or if the allergic reaction appears moderate to severe, seek veterinary care immediately. In some cases additional measures such as IV fluids, steroid injections, and even epinephrine are needed to prevent shock and respiratory failure.

Contributed by:

Dr. Jen Seidl

Grand Avenue Veterinary Center



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