What Is Loratadine for Dogs?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 30 July 2019
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Loratadine is a drug that helps treat canine allergies and skin irritation. A common cause of skin irritation in dogs is atopic dermatitis, the symptoms of which include incessant scratching, chewing of the legs and paws, hot spots, and alopecia, or loss of hair. Additional causes of atopic canine dermatitis include allergies to pollen and dust mite infestation.

Sometimes, loratadine for dogs works better in reducing allergic reaction when it is combined with other medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antihistamines. In addition, supplementing the dog's diet with fish oil or other supplements can help relieve an acute skin reaction. Owners should not supplement a dog's diet without first consulting with a veterinarian, because nutritional supplements can interact with certain medical conditions or medications.

Vaccinations can also cause a local skin reaction that may include pain, swelling, and itching. Loratadine can help reduce these symptoms, and some veterinarians may recommend pre-medicating the dog prior to his vaccinations to decrease the risk of an allergic reaction. Typically, however, the incidence of severe reaction to vaccinations is low, so pre-medicating with loratadine is often unnecessary.


Typically, loratadine produces few side effects in dogs. When side effects do occur, they are generally seen when given in combination with other medications, such as antibiotics or antifungal medications. These side effects include excessive drowsiness and lethargy, however, if these side effects occur in the absence of antibiotics or antifungal medications, the veterinarian should be notified.

Generally, loratadine is well tolerated by dogs because it does not produce side effects like the older antihistamines can, especially drowsiness. Diphenhydramine, also known as Benadryl®, is sometimes given to dogs to reduce the effects of allergic skin reactions, but sometimes cannot be tolerated because of the profound effects it has on the central nervous system.

The usual dose of loratadine for dogs is between 0.5 mg and 1 mg for each 2.2 pounds (about 1 kg) that the canine weighs. In addition, this medication can be purchased at any drug store or grocery store, and the human form is the same administered to dogs. The veterinarian, however, should determine the correct dosage before it is administered by the owner.

Since there a couple of types of loratadine, a veterinarian should specify which type is appropriate for the dog. One form has decongestant properties, and contains a medication that can cause negative side effects in the dog, such as rapid heart rate and pulse, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. In addition, this version may even worsen allergic conditions, such as biting of the feet and itching.


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Discuss this Article

Post 8

@turquoise-- Please check with your vet first.

Once I gave my dog an antihistamine made for humans and he got very sick. It was toxic for him. Now I never give anything without asking first.

Post 7

@turquoise-- Yes, my dog has taken it many times without problems. She has allergies to mold and starts itching like crazy whenever she's around it. Her veterinarian said I can use loratadine and I do use the generic kind sold for human use.

Just make sure you give the right dose. My dog is sixty pounds and one tablet per day has been enough for her.

Post 6

Does the loratadine prescribed by the vet look exactly the same as the one for humans at pharmacies?

I heard that the company that produces loratadine hasn't actually approved the use of this drug in animals but I may be wrong. I don't think vets would prescribe a medication unless it was approved.

My dog has season allergies and starts experiencing sneezing and watery eyes in spring just like me. I've been thinking about giving him some of my loratadine but haven't actually done it because I'm not sure how he will react.

Has anyone been giving some of their own loratadine medication to their dog? Has it been fine?

Post 5

@Perdido – I believe they do. I have a short-haired dog who has had many problems with his skin itching, especially during the summer.

He has gotten hot spots and lost hair in certain areas. He once scratched himself until he bled, and he got pink bumps all over his underside.

I took him to the vet, and she prescribed loratadine. She also told me to give him a bath in colloidal oatmeal, which is good at relieving itching.

After a day or two on loratadine, his skin looked better. He was sensitive to everything from grass to fleas, even though I gave him medicine monthly to prevent flea infestations.

Post 4

Do dogs with shorter hair tend to have more problems with allergies regarding their skin? I have one short-haired dog and one long-haired one, and it seems that the short-haired one scratches a lot more.

Post 3

I give my dogs Benadryl whenever they get stung by a bee or get their eyes all irritated from running through tall grass. It works wonders. My dogs weigh about 75 pounds, so I can give them up to three 25 mg pills at once, but I usually only give them one or two unless the allergic reaction is severe.

My vet actually recommended Benadryl, so I'm not totally surprised that loratadine can be given to dogs. There are quite a few human medications that you can alter the dosage of and they will work for dogs, as well. Loratadine would be a good choice if your dog needed daily medication to prevent allergies.

Post 2

I had no idea that dogs could take loratadine! I take this daily for my allergies, but I have to take the kind that is antihistamine only.

I once took the kind that contained a decongestant, and I thought I was having a heart attack! My heart sped up and skipped beats, and I felt completely restless.

I can't imagine a poor dog feeling this way. He would have no idea what brought it on, and it might cause him to panic. This just goes to show why you should always consult a vet before medicating your dog.

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