Don’t Give Your Dog Claritin Before Reading This: Dose Chart, Risks, and When to Use

Written by Joan W.
Updated: October 30, 2023
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Dogs love to be outdoors. Getting exercise outdoors and taking in all of those smells keeps your dog healthy and happy, but it can lead to itchy bug bites or reactions to environmental allergens.

If your dog is very uncomfortable with itchiness or inflammation, you might be tempted to give them an antihistamine. Claritin is a common allergy medication and histamine blocker used by humans and animals alike. It is effective at relieving the symptoms of allergies, but its intended use for dogs is more complicated than you might think. 

In certain situations, Claritin can be harmful to dogs. Before giving your dog any drug, it’s crucial to know its uses, dosage, and side effects. You don’t want to attempt to ease your dog’s discomfort only to give them something that makes them sick. This article lays out the facts so you can decide if Claritin might be a good idea for your dog or not.

It’s also always best to consult with your vet before introducing any drug to your dog.

How Claritin Works for Dogs

The active ingredient in Claritin is Loratadine. It works by blocking the natural histamine reaction in dogs’ bodies.

As with humans, when your dog’s immune system identifies a foreign substance as an allergen, it signals to the mast cells to release histamine. Once the histamine is released, the allergic reaction, inflammation, or red bump that appears is the body fighting off the allergen. When Loratadine blocks the histamines, it also reduces the allergic response or inflammation.

Some vets may prescribe antihistamines like Claritin to help relieve allergic reactions in your dog. Besides Claritin, your vet may recommend other antihistamines like Cetirizine and Diphenhydramine. Vets sometimes choose Claritin because it won’t cause drowsiness and lasts longer than some other kinds of antihistamines.

Some vets may prescribe antihistamines like Claritin to help relieve allergic reactions in your dog.

When Can Claritin Be Used for Dogs?

There are several situations where Claritin might be a solution for your dog’s symptoms. These include:

  • To treat dog allergies
  • Treating bites and stings
  • To reduce chronic inflammation due to mast cell tumors
  • To treat vaccination reactions (some dogs have allergic reactions to routine vaccines)

Claritin and other antihistamines that can treat allergies and inflammation in dogs is NOT a cure for allergies. It can help relieve symptoms and bring your dog some relief while they recover or while you take other steps to help prevent the allergies.

dog being given medication

It’s important to know the exact dosage for your dog before giving them any Claritin.


Claritin Dosage for Dogs

You can purchase Claritin over the counter at your local pet store or pharmacy. It is available in pill, chewable, and liquid form. Since the dose for dogs is pretty small, you may want to look at the children’s chewables option for smaller dogs. 

Make sure you do NOT buy Claritin-D. Claritin-D may contain pseudoephedrine which is lethal to dogs.

While regular Claritin without pseudoephedrine is usually safe for dogs, there are exceptions.

For example, if your dog has underlying health problems like liver disease or a heart condition, you should always consult your vet before administering Claritin or any over-the-counter medicine. Similarly, if your dog is pregnant or nursing, only give your dog Claritin if specifically directed by their doctor.

Outside of any notable health condition, Claritin is usually okay to give your dog until the symptoms subside—as long as you do it as directed by your veterinarian.

Claritin Dosage Chart

The recommended dosage for Claritin depends on your dog’s weight and how long you’d like the effects to last. Your vet will give you more specific instructions for your dog, but the general recommended dosage is 0.2 milligram of Claritin for each pound of your dog’s weight.

According to this general outline, if your dog weighs:

  • Between 1 and 14 pounds: Give a maximum of 2.5 milligrams of Claritin twice daily
  • Between 15 and 40 pounds: Give a maximum of 5 milligrams twice daily
  • More than 40 pounds: Give a maximum of 10 milligrams twice daily

Be very careful not to overdose your dog on Claritin because overdosing can result in nasty side effects or even stroke.

Also, double check you are not givine your dog Claritin-D with pseudoephedrine, because that can be fatal to your dog.

Check the label and make sure the active ingredient is loratadine or loratadine for dogs.

When Not to Give Your Dog Claritin

Claritin is not recommended for use in dogs younger than six months old. If your dog has a history of seizures, do not give them Claritin without first talking to your veterinarian. The medication can induce seizures if given to a dog with this condition.

Do not give Claritin to dogs who are pregnant or nursing, as it could cause harm to the unborn puppies or nursing puppies. Speak with your veterinarian if your dog has any chronic conditions, including liver or heart issues. Finally, if your dog is on other medication make sure it is not contraindicated with Claritin.

Claritin Side Effects

Claritin may cause side effects that could result in your dog’s death if it is not used correctly. Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Allergic reactions like facial swelling, itching, hives, or skin rash
  • Skin reactions such as redness and irritation around the mouth or anus area
  • Lethargy or weakness when standing up from a lying down position
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased tear production
  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary retention

Other Options to Try

If you don’t want to give your dog Claritin but are still looking for an over-the-counter medication, there are a couple of options.

The first is aspirin, which is a human anti-inflammatory drug. It’s not necessarily the best choice if your dog has allergies or other issues that may make them more sensitive to aspirin, but if they’re generally healthy then this may work to combat inflammation.

Antihistamines like Benadryl have also been shown in some anecdotal evidence to help relieve symptoms of allergies either orally or when used topically on the skin or in the ears. You can buy Benadryl liquid drops online (though it’s important not to use them as directed on the bottle).


A veterinarian may also prescribe your dog aspirin.

©Shane Maritch/

Talk to Your Vet Before Giving Your Dog Any Medication

Your dog’s vet is the best person to give you advice about giving your dog Claritin, so be sure to talk to them first. If your dog has a history of allergies, or if they have seizures, definitely talk with your vet before giving them any medicine.

It’s also essential that you always follow the instructions on how much medication and how often it should be given.

Questions and Answers

Is it safe to give a dog Claritin?Claritine-D is NOT safe for your dog. It contains pseudoephedrine which is highly toxic to dogs and can kill them. Normal Claritin or Claritin Junior in tablet or liquid form can help your dog when you give them the correct dose under a veterinarian’s supervision.
How much Claritin can I give my dog?

The correct dose of Claritin will depend on your dog’s weight. Although your vet can give you specifics, the general prescription is a dosage of 0.2 milligrams per pound of body weight. A small dog might get 5 milligrams per day.
Is Claritin better for dogs than Benadryl?Three antihistamines can be safe for dogs when used correctly. These include Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl. Benadryl may be more commonly used but can also produce more drowsiness than Claritin or Zyrtec.
How long does it take for Claritin to work on dogs?If your dog is suffering from allergies, your dog should show improvement one to two hours after taking Claritin.

What Helps a Dog that Won’t Stop Itching?

While medications like Claritin, Zyrtec, and Benadryl are effective for allergies in dogs, you may seek other alternatives to help symptoms. Itchy skin is often a problem seen in dogs due to environmental allergies among other causes. What else can you do to help prevent itching? One home remedy is to apply 100% pure aloe vera gel to the itchy spots. This may soothe the skin and relieve itching, allowing it to heal. Another strategy is to start from the inside out by feeding your dog fish oil, probiotic supplements, and flax seed. These nutrients have anti-itch elements and are great for any skin conditions. Baking soda has also been known to soothe skin due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an acid neutralizer, which can help with PH balance in their skin. Another thing to try to help with your dog’s itching is a colloidal oatmeal bath, which has been known to help some dogs with skin conditions. If you’ve tried a few different things and your pup still can’t find relief, a visit to the veterinarian may be in order.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Andrey_Popov/

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About the Author

Joan Weisman is an experienced freelance marketing strategist and copywriter who helps small businesses expand their audience and stay top of mind with customers. She loves animals and dotes on her cat and dog.

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