Benadryl vs. CBD: Helping Your Pet’s Allergies

By Angela Ardolino

Updated on September 5, 2020

Inflammation is at the root of much of our pets itchiness. One thing that CBD and Benadryl have in common, is that they both target and reduce inflammation.

Benadryl is often a pet parent’s first choice because it’s quick to rise to the occasion and soothe allergy symptoms. Generally, pets are able to get back on track within a few hours. Although Benadryl is fast-acting, it doesn’t treat the root of the problem, and it could come with some heavy baggage.

Here at CBD DOG Health, we believe the best course of action when dealing with an itch is determining the root cause of the allergen and using natural supplements to boost the body’s natural defenses. 

For most people, CBD is a new thing, meaning pet parents are often more likely to run to the store and grab a bottle of Benadryl when the scratching starts. Honestly, who would have thought CBD could help itchiness? But, it does, and we’re happy to share how!

Our dog can’t talk to us to let us know there is inflammation, redness, itchiness, or any other symptom. And, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it’s coming from unless we see it. That said, pet parents are scattered in the effort to determine a solution to their pet’s discomfort.


Benadryl is used to treat mild allergy symptoms due to seasonal, food, and/or environmental allergies or allergic reactions. Itchiness is the most common symptom Benadryl relieves, but it can also be used for hives, inflammation, redness, coughing, runny eyes, or sneezing.

Due to the sedative effects of Benadryl, some pet parents also choose to use it as a way to reduce anxiety in dogs.

When it comes to cancer, veterinarians have been known to utilize Benadryl for MCT’s as well (Mast Cell Tumors). Mast cell tumors release massive amounts of histamine. The antihistamine does the trick to work against the mast cell tumors… to an extent.


The active ingredient in Benadryl is the antihistamine known as diphenhydramine.

Diphenhydramine is a receptor antagonist, meaning it works by blocking receptors that receive histamines. Histamines are the compounds involved with inflammation.

The body will still produce histamines, but the receptor blocks the receptors from recognizing. AKC has an excellent example of this process comparing this to a full mailbox. 

The mail-person is attempting to deliver a letter but the mailbox is already full. The letter is still there. It hasn’t gone anywhere, but the mailbox is not able to see it’s floating in the wind.




There are definite side effects associated with the use of Benadryl, including:

Excessive drowsiness
Dry mouth
Urinary retention
Rapid breathing 
Increased heart rate

Other possible side effects, though less common include diarrhea, vomiting, and change in appetite. 


Dogs, and humans, have been known to overdose on Benadryl. If your pet is experiencing an overdose, you’ll likely see the Central Nervous System become overloaded resulting in:

Dilated pupils
Rapid heartbeat

The moment you think your dog could be overdosing, it’s critical to call your emergency veterinary hospital immediately. 


Now CBD … possibly drowsiness … maybe. CBD provides a healthy, worry-free alternative to the pet parent for short-term or long-term use.

CBD from the cannabis plant is well-known for its anti-inflammatory benefits as well as the way it communicates with the body (Endocannabinoid System). CBD brings balance back to the body (homeostasis). Essentially, if your body isn’t at it’s normal, and inflammation is noticed by the endocannabinoid system, it will try it’s best to bring it back to normal. 

When you start using CBD, you may notice a bit of diarrhea as well. There have been many studies showing a lack of adverse effects when using CBD oil. Gastrointestinal upset is common with any type of diet change. Diarrhea may also occur if our pet eats something odd from the trash, or even when switching to a different type of kibble. Even if it’s safe, the ‘instinct’ of the digestive system is to get rid of something new as soon as possible, resulting in diarrhea.

If your dog or cat is taking other medications and you’re concerned about interactions, you can book a consultation with Dr. Zac Pilossoph and Angela Ardolino.

P.S.- There has never been any recorded CBD overdose in history.


CBD and the other compounds found in full-spectrum hemp extract are best known for their ability to bring the body back into balance. In scientific terms, CBD brings the body back into homeostasis. 

Instead of turning off immune responses like diphenhydramine does, CBD increases the communication among cells in the body to resolve the problem entirely, rather than simply placing a band-aid on the problem like diphenhydramine does. 

Since CBD oil communicates with the body in an effort to target the root cause and encourage cells to effectively relay information to one another, CBD may take a little bit longer than a traditional antihistamines. 


For those searching for a natural alternative, we do offer the EASE Tincture here at CBD Dog Health.

The EASE Tincture was designed specifically to target this type of ailment. EASE contains the essential oil of powerful medicinal herbs like frankincense and turmeric, whose anti-inflammatory and immune properties work synergistically with CBD.

“If your dog has any hot spots or irritated areas on their skin, another great option is CBD Dog Health’s SOOTHE Full Spectrum Hemp CBD Salve, which combines 150 mg of CBD with natural ingredients like honey, vitamin E, ginger essential oils, and aloe. This award-winning salve is used to heal hotspots, allergies, bug bites, and other common springtime issues,” according to

For success stories regarding administering CBD to help with allergic reactions, visit the ‘Success Stories’ page, here.  


Here at CBD Dog Health, we know how difficult it is to watch your pet go through any type of symptom and itching is among the worst due to the anxiety it causes. It’s easy to pop a Benadryl and let it kick in quickly. Unfortunately, without finding the root cause, nothing is going to get better. We recommend CBD to help find the root cause so your dog can get better completely rather than simply ‘leaving the mail flying in the wind.’ 

Aside from using CBD to support a healthy immune response, there are other holistic options you can consider, according to “Natural Solutions to Prevent Allergies in Your Pets,” by Angela Arodlino.

Consider sensitivities to particular foods in their diet, chemicals in their environment and look for ways to encourage the proper functioning of the body’s natural immune responses. There is so much that goes into the proper functioning of our pet’s body and their immune system.

We recommend you find the target then the solution as opposed to jumping straight to the solution first. Without the target, we can’t find the problem and your pet will continue to experience allergic reactions unless constantly provided a “band-aid” to put on top of it.


Angela Ardolino Schnauzer OdieAbout Angela Ardolino

Angela Ardolino is a holistic pet expert who has been caring for animals for over 20 years and operates a rescue farm, Fire Flake Farm, in Florida. She is also the owner of  Beautify the Beast,  a natural pet salon and shop. After getting her certificate in Medical Cannabis Biology and Therapeutic use from the University of Vermont School of Medicine, she founded CBD Dog Health to provide high quality, all-natural medical cannabis products designed specifically for pets. Angela has seven dogs, Odie a 12-year-old mini-schnauzer, Nina an 8-year-old Doberman. Jolene a 7-year-old mutt, Maza a 7-year-old mutt, Rhemi an 8-year-old poodle, Potato a 15-year-old shih-tzu, and Miss Daisie a 15-year-old black lab, plus 4-10 more at any time she is fostering or boarding. She uses Full Spectrum Hemp Extract on all her pets at her rescue farm every day, and has since 2016. She is a member of the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Veterinary Cannabis Association and has trained hundreds medical doctors and veterinarians about the therapeutic uses of medical cannabis on animals. Visit for more information. 


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