Zyrtec for Dogs: Guide and Alternatives?

Zyrtec for Dogs

Spring time brings new life.  Flowers begin to bloom.  Leaves grow out and the world turns green.  We shake off old man winter and finally get back outside.  It’s also the start of allergy season.  Our poor hounds often have even worse allergies than we do.  Since Zyrtec is so great for humans, it’s not unreasonable to wonder if there is a Zyrtec for dogs.  Well, it turns out that the same Zyrtec that you would get over the counter is the same Zyrtec that you would give your dog.  It really can really help them with their allergies

Millions of people suffer from allergies.  Dogs are no exception.  One of the most common allergies that dogs get is mild skin irritation.  If this irritation is left unchecked for long enough of a period of time they’ll often develop hot spots.  Hot spots are unsightly and very uncomfortable for the dog.  Although pollen is one of the most common causes of an allergic reaction in a dog, there can still be allergy trouble in the winter.  For instance, mites are quite problematic for dogs all year round.

Although dogs and humans have vastly different physiologies, you may be surprised to know that you actually can give Zyrtec to a dog.  The actual human product that you can buy over the counter at any pharmacy.  Although, it’s really important to look for the exact original Zyrtec.  There are some different versions of it that are not good for dogs.  We’ll get into that below.

Zyrtec is the most common brand name for the drug cetirizine. Other popular names are Alleroff and Select.  It is an antihistamine.  Dogs can safely ingest and process the drug.

The two most common conditions that Zyrtec treats in dogs are Atopic Dermatitis and Allergic Dermatitis.  Common issues that come from Atopic Dermatitis include:

  • Itching
  • Scratching
  • Hot Spots
  • Loss of Hair From Over Scratching


Is Zyrtec Safe for Your Dog?

The side effects of Zyrtec are pretty mild.  If your dog has any sort of liver issues, than you really should consider not giving it to them without at least speaking with a veterinarian.  Zyrtec is hard on the liver and you don’t want to damage an organ while it’s already not in the best state.

Beside the liver issues, Zyrtec has been know to cause hyper excitability in dogs.

When you do go to buy the Zyrtec, make sure that you aren’t purchasing Zyrtec-D which is the formula for nasal issues.  It has pseudoephedrine, which can really harm a dog.  Make sure that the only active ingredient is cetirizine.


Proper Zyrtec Dosage for a Dog

How much Zyrtec can you give your dog?  Like humans, weight is the number one consideration for administering a drug.  Unlike humans, adult dogs very in size tremendously.  Although Zyrtec is fairly harmless, it is not wise to just give your dog a few pills and see what happens.  That’s why we always recommend speaking with your veterinarian to get their ideal dosage.  They may also have a better treatment option.  Many vets prefer Benadryl over Zyrtec.


Zyrtec Dosage Chart for Dogs

Dog Weight


Less than 15 Lbs. 1 tablet daily 5mg
15-39 Lbs. 2 tablets daily 10mg total
40+ 2 tablets daily 10mg x 2  20mg total


Zyrtec for Dogs: Safety

You should always consult your veterinarian before you give your dog any medication.

As mentioned above, it’s very important that you make sure you are buying a form of Zyrtec that only contains cetirizine, you don’t want Zyrtec-D.   Avoid usage if the dog has liver issues.

Are there any other options for dog allergies?

Yes diphenhydramine is a safe and effective method of treating dog allergies.  It is often recommended by veterinarians as the antihistamine of first resort.  It is relatively safe for dogs and works very well as a sedative.


Some common brand names include:

  • Sominex
  • Benadryl
  • Banophen
  • Diphenhist
  • Wal-Dryl
  • Nytol
  • Dramamine


Zyrtec is safe and effective for most dogs.  Just be careful with dosages.  You don’t want to overdo it.