Hydroxyzine (Atarax) for Dogs

Hydroxyzine (Atarax) for Dogs

Hydroxyzine belongs to the class of antihistamines that are used for treating and managing canine allergies caused by otitis, snake- and insect bites, and vaccines. Vets also prescribe this antihistamine for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, skin inflammation, pruritus, and so on. Hydroxyzine also helps deal with anxiety, nausea, and depression in dogs, thanks to the drug’s tranquillizing properties.   

Hydroxyzine at a Glance

Brand Name

Atarax, Vistaril, Anxanil

Generic Name

Hydroxyzine pamoate, Hydroxyzine HCL

Drug Type


Is the medication approved by FDA for veterinary use?


Suitable for

Dogs and cats


Strictly via prescription

Available forms

Tablet, capsule, oral suspension, and injectable


Is Hydroxyzine Safe for Dogs?

Though FDA has not certified Hydroxyzine for use as a veterinary medication, you can administer it safely to your dog. Nevertheless, ensure to procure a licensed veterinarian’s prescription before offering the medicine. Additionally, keep your vet posted on how your pet is responding to the drug and seek medical intervention in case of any complications.

Hydroxyzine: How Does the Medication Work in Dogs?

When your pet suffers from an allergic condition or experiences inflammation, the pet’s body releases histamine as a responsive mechanism. Histamine travels through the body, looking for particular histamine receptors to bind themselves to which in turn causes the allergic reaction. Hydroxyzine acts as an antihistamine that inhibits the biological histamine’s offensive and thereby prevents or minimizes allergic reactions like pruritis.  

How Much Hydroxyzine Should You Offer to Your Dog?

The amount of hydroxyzine you should administer to your pet largely depends upon the body weight of the animal. At the same time note that you should never offer the medication without the vet’s recommendation as it’s a prescription drug. The typical dosage of hydroxyzine is 1mg/lb (or 2mg per kg) to be offered 2-3 times every 24 hours.

In other words, you should give the medication every 8 hours within 24 hours. Your vet will take the seriousness of the condition and the responsiveness of your pet (to the drug) to determine the duration of treatment. Continue offering the drug even if you see your dog recuperating and make sure you complete the entire medication course.

Potential Side Effects of Hydroxyzine in Dogs

Giving hydroxyzine to dogs and cats usually does not cause side effects but they’re more likely to occur if administered long-term. The following are some adverse effects that may transpire if you administer the corticosteroid for an extended period:-

  • Incoordination
  • Giddiness
  • Behavioral change
  • Urinary retention
  • Polyuria (frequent urination)
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleepiness
  • Lethargy

Corticosteroids that are usually administered for reining in allergies in dogs may oftentimes lead to allergic reactions. In case you observe any of the below-mentioned usual symptoms of allergy, you’ll have to get in touch with the vet anon:-

  • Hives (Urticaria)
  • Epileptic fits
  • Swelling of the face, lips, and tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing

When Not to Offer Hydroxyzine to Your Dog?

While discussing circumstances when you should not be offering Hydroxyzine to your pet with the vet, ensure to report any medical condition the dog is beset with. Your vet might steer clear of prescribing this veterinary medication in the following scenarios or cases:-

  • Pregnancy
  • Lactating or nursing
  • The pet is currently on other medications especially epinephrine, tranquillizers or barbiturates
  • Heart and lung disease
  • Enlarged prostrate
  • Hypertension

Ensure to bring to the notice of the vet in case the pet had experienced any sensitivity or allergic reaction to Hydroxyzine previously. Apart from the medications mentioned above, Hydroxyzine should never be administered in combination with trimeprazine (Temaril) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

What to Do In Case of an Overdose?

If you notice that your dog is more drowsy than usual, then you can safely assume you may have overdosed. You should your pet to the vet right away and the professional will most probably check the dog’s blood pressure. If the animal’s blood pressure is abnormally low then it’s another indication of a drug overdose.  

Disclaimer: The above content is based on multiple research articles referred to online. Global Dog Breeds intends to share information, but it's strictly advised to consult a veterinarian and seek advice before using any medications described. We believe each condition and dog is unique, and only after careful evaluation from a qualified professional should you be offering any medications to your pet.

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