Can I Give My Dog Zyrtec? What is the Correct Zyrtec Dosage for Dogs?

Last Updated on 06/29/2021 by Veronica Jones

Itching (pruritus) is a common symptom in many canine skin ailments. It can be quite incapacitating with a major impact on your pup’s life. Itching is a sign, not a diagnosis. The most common causes of canine itching are allergies, infections, and parasites. As a result, many owners will, at some point, as themselves, ‘can I give my dog Zyrtec?’. then, naturally, ‘what is the correct Zyrtec dosage for dogs rather than humans?’. Let’s look at it all in greater detail.

What is Zyrtec?

Zyrtec (cetirizine) is a prescription medicine (antihistamine) that is used to treat itching (pruritus) that is associated with insect-bite reactions, urticarial, atopic dermatitis, hot spots, mange, excessive itching, hair loss, irritated or scaly skin, and excessive licking.

The response to Zyrtec in dogs, as with other antihistamines, is unpredictable and individualized.

Antihistamines should be administered as a preventive therapy, daily, to keep the histamine receptors blocked before histamine is released.

Here are the main things that the correct dosage of Zyrtec can help treat in your dog:

  • Food allergies
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  • Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)
  • Mange (Mites)
  • Hot Spots
  • Urticaria (Hives)

Food Allergies

If your dog has food allergies, she can start showing signs at any time, and it is usually a relentless problem.

Food allergy can also be episodic when your dog eats the bad food only periodically.

Food allergy is one of the main causes of pruritus (itching), which can vary in severity.

This condition can be accompanied by gastrointestinal signs.

can i give my dog zyrtec

Itchiness will start within several hours after eating allergy-triggering food.

Pups fed in the morning may tend to scratch or lick more in the afternoon or early even.

If your dog eats allergy-triggering food in the evening, she may scratch all night.

Itching caused by food allergies is most common on the ears, rump, inguinal region, armpits, face, and feet.

But about twenty-five percent of dogs with food allergies will only have signs of itchy ears.

Zyrtec will help treat and manage the condition if the correct dosage is administered.

Skin Conditions

Skin conditions are unfortunately very common in canines.

When your pup’s skin protective barrier is damaged, this leaves the entire body susceptible to infections as well as other ailments.

Many of these conditions begin with an allergy. There are three main ways that allergies manifest in a canine’s skin.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

This is one of the most common canine skin ailments.

It is the development of pruritic skin disorder in dogs usually associated with allergic hypersensitivity to the saliva injected by the bite of a flea.

It causes itching and scabbing at the base of the tailor behind the ears.

Recommended Article: Benadryl For Dogs – Can You Give Your Dog Generic Benadryl

Your pup doesn’t need a huge flea burden to develop a reaction.

She can easily develop a flea allergy if she only has one or two fleas on her body.

zyrtec for dogs

Atopic Dermatitis (Atopy)

Atopy is the second most common allergic skin disease in dogs.

It is caused by a general hypersensitive or allergic reaction to an environmental or indoor allergen.

This includes dust, pollen, and mites among other things. Many of these microscopic allergens penetrated through the skin directly.

This is a common problem suffered by canines that have a skin barrier defect. This can lead to itching, especially in the folds of the skin and flanks.

It can easily progress into generalized dermatitis. Correct dosage of Zyrtec will help with your pup’s recovery.

Mange (Mites)

This is a skin disease in canines that is usually caused by two types of mites (scabies or Demodex).

Demodectic mange is the most common of the two mites. Demodex mites are typically found on all canines and don’t usually cause serious problems.

Butt when your pup’s immune system is compromised, the Demodex mites can thrive and cause skin damage and hair loss.

This is often followed by secondary bacterial infections and itching.

Pups with Demodex don’t often itch at the onset of the conditions.

What you will see in most cases are spots of hair loss on the face.

Scabies (Sarcoptes); on the other hand, is caused by a burrowing mite and it is less common.

It is extremely itchy and often caught from other infected dogs. Sarcoptes can be passed to people as well.

Hot Spots

Another common skin condition that your pup can suffer from is hot spots.

They normally appear as a discrete moist patch of skin with hair loss that can be caused by anything that irritates your dog’s skin like infections, wounds, and flea bites. Your dog is likely to chew at her skin, which irritates the area more, leading to further infection.

Hot spots can spread throughout the body. You can relieve your dog of this condition with a correct Zyrtec dosage.

Urticaria (Hives)

This is a canine skin condition that is defined by raised skin welts that are red.

The swollen welts are normally caused by an allergic reaction (from direct contact with molds, pollens, food, insect bites) and they can appear on the ears, throat, tongue, lips, and even the face.

The welts make the hives feel very itchy. Most cases of hives are self-limiting, but they can be a serious issue if left without treatment.

Is Zyrtec Good for Dogs?

As a quick reminder, you should always consult with your veterinarian before giving any dosage as Zyrtec can have bad reactions in some rare cases.

According to veterinarians, Zyrtec is generally well tolerated by pups and has a wide margin of safety.

It can help pups experiencing environmental allergies and allergic reactions to stings or insect bites.

It is considered a mild sedative and may help your dog with motion sickness.

It is important to note that not all prescription containing Zyrtec is safe for your dog to use.

Liquid subscriptions for colds normally contain high alcohol content that may be unsafe for your pup.

Also, if your pup is experiencing facial swelling or difficulty in breathing, you should seek the assistance of your local vet.

What is the Correct Zyrtec Dosage for Dogs?

The standard and correct dosage for Zyrtec is determined by your dog’s weight.

Give your dog half a milligram (0.5 mg) per pound weight of your pup’s overall body weight.

You can give your dog Zyrtec two to three times a day. The Zyrtec dosage should not exceed 10 to 20 milligrams in a single day.

Cetirizine is labelled as a once-daily dosage for humans and may have the advantage of once-daily administration in dogs.

Here is a good example of administering Zyrtec to your dog and getting the dosage correct:

  • A 100-pound dog should be given a maximum of 20 mg a day, an equivalent of two 10 mg tablets
  • A 50-pound pup should be given a maximum of 20 mg per day, an equivalent of two 10 mg tablets
  • A 20-pound dog should be given a maximum of 10 mg a day, which is equal to two 5 mg tablets or one 10 mg tablet
  • A 10-pound pup should be given a maximum of 5 mg per day, an equivalent of one 5 mg tablet
  • A 5-pound dog should be given a maximum of 2.5 mg in a day, which is the same as half a 5 mg tablet

If you are dealing with a small breed dog, you would most likely need a pill cutter for cutting half tablets. This will help maintain the accuracy of the dosage.

What About Zyrtec-D?

Zyrtec-D is considered unsafe for dogs and you are advised to avoid it by all means.

This specific prescription contains pseudoephedrine, which is a synthetic ingredient that works wonders for humans, but not dogs.

This is so since pseudoephedrine is known to stimulate seizures and increase blood pressure in canines.

It can lead to severe hypertension and even organ failure in extreme cases.

Zyrtec Poisoning and Side-Effects

Zyrtec is a well-known brand name utilizing cetirizine, one of the earliest antihistamines.

But it is important to go through the labels and make sure that the prescription doesn’t contain dangerous ingredients like pseudoephedrine.

Make sure you have the correct dosage as administered by your dog’s veterinarian.

Although Zyrtec is generally considered safe for canines, some side effects can occur, such as:

  • Excitability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Depression

Take precautions when administering the drug to dogs with pregnancy, glaucoma, disease (liver, kidney, or heart), difficulty urinating, or seizure.

As much as you try to give the correct dosage (0.5 mg per pound of weight), your dog may still get an overdose.

Overdoses usually occur when your pooch gets into the medication box due to curiosity. So, be on the lookout for:

  • Muscle tremors
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Agitation
  • Aggression

If your pup consumes a large amount of Zyrtec or if she is having a reaction to a prescription for this medication, gather all the info and present it to your pup’s veterinarian.

The adverse side effects of antihistamines include depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.

But these effects are features of first-generation antihistamines and are rarely seen with second-generation medication like Zyrtec.

What is the Difference Between First and Second Generation Antihistamines?

Although first-generation antihistamines (Benadryl) often provide effective treatment for itching in dogs, such compounds normally produce side effects, such as drowsiness, dry mouth, rapid breathing, hypersalivation, and urinary retention.

The use of first-generation antihistamines; however, is discouraged for dogs.

Second-generation antihistamines (cetirizine or Zyrtec) have improved safety profiles when compared to the first-generations.

This is because the second-generations have increased specificity for the H-1 receptor.

In general, second-generation antihistamines tend to have more favorable pharmacokinetics compared to first-generation medications.

They have rapid and near-complete absorption and a relatively long half-life that allows for daily dosing.

Holistic Tips for Treating Itching

If your pup has preexisting problems that can prevent her from using Zyrtec, you can always consider holistic remedies.

Address Your Dog’s Diet

You need to review your pup’s diet and assess the situation for the possibility of a leaky gut syndrome.

This means the lining of the intestinal tract is penetrable to substances that would not normally enter the body in the digestive tract.

Processed foods containing genetically modified ingredients are among the most common reasons for leaky guts in dogs.

So, if your pup is allergic, you should transition her to a less inflammatory diet. Nutrition that is high in carbs is usually inflammatory.

Your allergic dog diet should be very low in grain content. The food label needs to say no corn, no soy, no wheat, no rice, no pea, and no lentil.

You should also consider keeping your pooch away from foods that can increase or manifest an inflammatory response.

Provide a Source of Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids from coldwater fish oil are packed with DHA and EPA. These nutrients help decrease itching as well as inflammation in dogs.

Your pup can also get enough omega 3 from flaxseed. Fatty acids of omega 3 block the enzymes involved in the action of omega 6 and can lessen inflammation in the skin.

You can also consider coconut oil because it is rich in lauric acid, which has great anti-fungal properties.

Pure Drinking Water

Water is involved in nearly every process in your dog’s body.

It is involved in digestion, absorption, circulation, and elimination, making it the primary source of transporting nutrients throughout the body.

Good quality water is necessary for your pup’s health. Don’t use water that contains fluoride, heavy metals, or a lot of chlorine, which can damage the kidney, liver, cardiovascular system.

Protect Your Pup’s Immune System

Canine allergies are usually an overreaction of the immune system. So, you have to protect the immune system of your dog to help avoid overreactions.

This means you need to avoid giving your pooch unnecessary veterinary drugs and vaccines.

Remove Allergens from Your Pup’s Body

You can help treat your dog’s itching by showering her twice a day. This will help wash off the allergens from your pup’s body.

A shampoo shower can provide quick relief for inflamed or irritated skin. You will also be able to prevent secondary bacterial infections.

All these holistic approaches will ensure the correct Zyrtec dosage works effectively.

6 thoughts on “Can I Give My Dog Zyrtec? What is the Correct Zyrtec Dosage for Dogs?”

  1. Your article was very refreshing. My dog has been allergy tested and of the 14 grasses they tested, he is allergic to 14. His allergic reaction to dust and storage mites is off the charts. We have tried cytopoint, apoquel and immunotherapy. The meds helped just a little. The immunotherapy made him itch even worse. I’ve been trying to find advice everywhere and just get the same generic answers. Thank you for adding a little information outside of the standard. I would love to be able to ask you a few specific questions if that’s an option. Thank you again for your help.

  2. What can you tell me about Malassezia? My dog also has allergies to this. Is it most likely on him or me? Very confused about this one.

  3. The bottle of zyrtec tells us that human adults should not take more than 10mg per day. Why are you suggesting a dog that weighs much less than a human take twice as much as a full grown adult human?

    • Following. I was wondering the same. Though, the information my vet gave me was to give my dog (60#) 30 mg and I just couldn’t bring myself to give him that much so I haven’t started. I’m interested to hear what the response to this will be, though I did read in a different article that it works in dogs at different dosages than in humans. Thank you for asking the question.

      • Is there a reason you don’t trust your vet? It’s my understanding that dogs process meds differently and often much quicker than humans. I might start your pup on the 10, rather than 30, to see how he responds to it, and work your way up slowly. You know your pup better and can monitor any reactions.

  4. I’m curious why you might suggest multiple bags with soap for a dog suffering from itchy skin. I could see rinsing them off if they have been playing outside or near their environmental allergen triggers (assuming it’s not from diet), but often, more baths make it worse for the dog with itchy skin.


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