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Could Benadryl Cause Aggression In My Dog?

Discussion in 'Training & Behavior' started by MacsMom, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. MacsMom

    MacsMom Puppy

    Hi All

    Looking to see if anyone has had had a similar experience, or can offer insight...

    My 1.5yo male APBT male can be anxious at times - though not anxious enough to require a full time anxiety med regimen. Rather than a regimen, my vet suggested that I administer Benadryl (pill form, in the proper dosage for his weight / size) on occasion if I anticipate him being exposed to anxiety inducing situations.

    My partner and I are currently in the midst of moving out of our condo. So, for the last few months there have been people in and out for showings, and then once we closed there were people in and out for inspections, then people in and out for some minor work that was required, and now in the last few weeks we have been packing and getting everything out. There have been a few instances throughout this process that I have given my dog Benadryl in anticipation of particularly stressful situations (for him.)

    ** It should be noted here that I am well aware that the above mentioned process, in itself, can be very stressful for any dog. Additionally, as this will likely be asked, my dogs are always gated, or outside in a fenced off area with me, when people are in the house - for everyone's safety.**

    In tandem with the above mentioned process of putting the house on the market, etc etc, I noticed my dog suddenly starting to show signs of aggression. He has always been reactive to other dogs (we are well aware of that and always take the proper precautions, etc) but suddenly he seemed to develop leash aggression, on occasion (when he had previously loved walks and was happy as a clam from beginning to end.) He also suddenly started to show aggression (on occasion) towards humans - which was both new and surprising. Never an issue previously.

    It came to a head two days ago when he lashed out at my partners father (who he knows and has always been friendly with.) Immediately after, I scheduled a wellness check at the vet and made appointments with two behaviorists for the upcoming week. Today, a friend stopped by (as we are literally moving out in about 12 hours.) My dog knows this friend well, and loves her. Because of the recent aggression towards my partner's father, I kept him gated so he did not have direct access to her. However, when she entered, he freaked out. First his aggression was directed at my other dog (who got every excited at the sight of said friend - he also loves her) and then at the friend. He was so worked up that I had to have her leave. And then he was totally fine. I took him outside to have a run (work out any energy and anxiety) and he was totally fine - or seemed so.

    Of course, like any pit-parent, I can't stop thinking about his new aggression issues and the instances in which they have occurred. I keep going over and over the various instances trying to identify / determine the triggers, looking for similarities in the target of the aggression, similarities in the situation and environment... that kind of thing. I have PLENTY of notes for the behaviorist...but one thing that JUST occurred to me is that, in each instance, he had Benadryl in his system. That is literally the one detail that is exactly the same in each of the various instances.

    So, I am wondering if Benadryl is known to cause anxiety or fear in dogs, and / or aggression in dogs.
    Has anyone else had a similar experience?

    Please know that I am sick over what I perceive to be the development of a serious anxiety and / or aggression issue in my dog, and while I value any and all opinions / input, I ask you to please not attack or criticize me. I am a very hands on dog mom, who always puts her pups first and I am doing everything I can to keep my dog, and the people in my home, and the people outside my home safe. I am completely aware of that fact that the end result of this issue could be devastating - so much so that I can't even say it. So, please, be kind...or at least fair. :nervous:

    * Also, I am happy to provide more details if asked, I just figured this was long enough so I tried to cut some of the extra, extra detail out :)
  2. Lillie May

    Lillie May Good Dog

    Are you sure he's anxious? He sounds fear aggressive, which could've come on if he's constantly over threshold. If he were say fearful to begin with, rather than anxious, all this activity could've been too much to him to handle. Just as you pointed out, it could be stressful for any dog. Is he a purebred APBT with a pedigree? They're not supposed to be HA, even in the worst situations.

    In answer to your question though, I've given my dogs Benedryl on the 4th of July when I know they are going to start getting anxious with a few random pops. They graduate to fear once the fireworks go off. It has never worked, but they never became aggressive. So no, I've never heard of it before. That doesn't mean it can't happen. Can you tell us more about what happened with the father of your partner? The incident with your friend coming over sounds like a redirect onto your other dog, because there was a barrier up. More info on the other dog too please. Age, sex, breed, how long have you had it?

    I think you're taking all the right steps for right now. Keeping everyone safe, vet check, and behaviorists.
  3. Savage Destiny

    Savage Destiny Big Dog

    If he is fear aggressive, which it sound like he probably is, it is very possible the Benedryl could be a factor. All it does is make them sleepy, but if he is fearful and in a situation where he feels he might have to defend himself (i.e. new people in his house), feeling weird/sleepy could cause him to react even more strongly than he normally would. This is not a typical reaction, and I wouldn't blame it on the Benedryl per se, but I have seen similar reactions grooming dogs dosed with ace. An already fearful dog + the situation that causes them fear + a drug making them feel weird = dog freaking out.
  4. _unoriginal

    _unoriginal Cow Dog

    I agree with what Savage Destiny has posted as the aggression being in response to the combination of fear and feeling funny from the Benadryl.

    I've given Benadryl to many dogs and have never had any experience with their behavior being anything but a toned down version of themselves. Although, the Benadryl doesn't even work to make my dog drowsy.

    Something else to consider is that you have been actively keeping him away from other people and this could cause him to associate other people with avoidance. So you're in effect encouraging his negative behavior toward other people.

    When I've moved or had workers in the house, I either leave before they get to the house so the dog has no idea what's going on and doesn't see us avoiding someone or I will put him in his crate for quiet time when a worker gets to the house. I understand that's it's necessary to remove the dog from the house when it's being shown, but leave before they show up.
  5. ETRaven

    ETRaven Little Dog

    Two Week shutdown in the new place, for sure
  6. Nat Ursula

    Nat Ursula Good Dog

    The last time we gave benedryl to Tonka it made her very nervous.
  7. Lillie May

    Lillie May Good Dog

    It's very possible that a dog would react to a medication in the same way a person would. Benedryl makes some people extremely drowsy if they take the normal dose of two. Others fall asleep after taking just one. I can take three and go to the store, lol. So it wouldn't surprise me that the same is true with dogs. I agree it possibly could make an anxious or fearful dog, feeling woozy, become aggressive or nervous.
  8. KEN-IN-PA

    KEN-IN-PA Puppy

  9. KEN-IN-PA

    KEN-IN-PA Puppy

    We have also experienced unexpected aggressive behavior from our 90 pound, 2 yr old Pit after 7 months on Benadryl for excessive allergies. He is normally a very well behaved dog. Can walk without a leash, loves children, will sit, give each paw, give high 5, high 10, will come when called and sit and wait when told to wait! On three separate occasions in this past month, all of a sudden he did not like 3 different people upon meeting them again! Even though he had met them before. He also had warm friendly interactions with them before, and in one case the person had been at our home for a full weekend/3 days, almost 3 months prior! Yet, after not seeing them for approx 3 months, in each case, he wanted them out of the house! He seemed extremely confused each time, focused on them like tunnel vision and disregarded my commands as if they were a high level threat! This also happened with a person outside of the house where all of a sudden he did not like the person, seemed confused and started growling at the person! We stopped the Benadryl after reading a similar post on this forum. The dosage he was receiving was based on Vet's recommendation @ approx 3/4 recommended dosage for his weight! Anyone else have this happen?
  10. leavesofjoy

    leavesofjoy Big Dog Premium Member

    My boy Griffin has only needed Benadryl a couple of times, and each time, the very lowest dose just knocked him out cold. But, my previous dog always reacted very badly to it- became agitated, hyper, snappy, antisocial, etc. After a few sessions of that, we realized it was the Benadryl and stopped giving it to him. It can cause divergent reactions in people- it knocks me out, but it makes my sister all emotional and incoherent, so I imagine the same can happen with dogs.

    Lots of folks on here have more experience than I do with very ellergic dogs, so maybe there is some alternative for your boy?

  11. phillysmom

    phillysmom Good Dog

    Benadryl makes me mean and bitchy, so I think it could possibly have the same results in dogs.
    TWadeJ likes this.
  12. KEN-IN-PA

    KEN-IN-PA Puppy

    We have now put him on Chlorpheniramine Maleate (A Benadryl Alternative) based on Vet's recommendation. However, now we are starting at
    Benadryl the lowest dosage.
  13. KEN-IN-PA

    KEN-IN-PA Puppy

    CORRECTION .>..We have now put him on Chlorpheniramine Maleate (A Benadryl Alternative) based on Vet's recommendation. However, now we are starting at
    the lowest dosage with the new med. We want to curb his itching and scratching so he does not cause scratches that cause open sores and infection. Our objective before was to eliminate all discomfort and eliminate ALL scratching. Thank you for your comments.
    Madeleinemom likes this.

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