Is Benadryl an Effective Way to Safely Put a Dog to Sleep? (Fact-checked Advice from Vets)

If your dog is reaching the end of its life, unable to move freely, and visibly in pain, it’s time to make the heartbreaking decision to put them to sleep peacefully. 

Disclaimer: It’s always recommended to consult a veterinarian before making choices regarding canine health. For each breed, weight, and age, the dosage of medication is significantly different and not always a recommended way to end life.

Is Benadryl a safe and humane way to end your dog’s life when all other options have failed? Your dog no longer needs to suffer in daily turmoil, but it’s vital to make the right decision. 

It can be expensive and emotionally destructive to bring your loved one to the vet to say goodbye. Most pet owners prefer to allow their pets to pass quietly in the comfort of their own homes. Whatever makes you and Fido feel the most peace is the best choice. 

We’ve compiled all the essential facts and statistics you need to know about Benadryl to safely and confidently lay your loved one to rest. Any questions? Just ask.

How Do Pets Get Put Down?

Putting your dog to rest with an IV process is a frequently used, humane alternative to leaving a dog in pain or allowing them to suffer for a prolonged period without relief. 

Making a final call on any pet’s health condition is extremely difficult. Consult with experts on if the damage is fixable before you make any life-ending calls. 

This can be carried out in various ways, depending on preference. Standard putting-to-sleep methods include:

• Lethal Injection: Drugs are injected into the animal’s bloodstream by IV.

• Fentanyl Patches: These patches can also be used to euthanize dogs by reducing their pain, which makes them lethargic and sleepy. 

• Medication: A fatal dose of medicine such as Benadryl can be administered orally or through injection.

4 Reasons You May Need to Put Your Dog to Sleep

While putting your dog to rest is never an easy decision to make, there are several reasons why you might choose to let your dog pass at home: 

1. Your Dog Is Suffering/in Pain

If your dog is constantly in pain and without relief, it may be time to say goodbye. Sadly, not all illnesses, pains, and canine traumas are able to be fixed.

hugging her dog before putting to rest

2. Your Dog Has a Serious Illness

If your dog has an illness that’s not curable, euthanasia may make sense as it can prevent unnecessary suffering. This might include conditions like cancer, heart disease, or organ failure.

Dogs also commonly have irreversible diseases that can be passed to other canines in the household. Consult with a professional for more information on your pet’s diagnosis. 

3. Your Dog Is Old

If your dog is elderly and their quality of life has deteriorated to the point where they may no longer enjoy life, putting them to sleep might be a good option.

In these cases, the hard choice is more humane than allowing an elderly dog to decline without relief slowly. For example, if your dog is unable to control their bladder, moves freely around the household, is refusing food and care, they are telling you it’s time to pass on.

4. Your Dog Exhibits Aggression

If your dog has attacked a family member or stranger, it may have to be euthanized for the safety of others.

We always advocate for aggression training before you make any stark decisions. Remember, an aggressive dog is a scared dog, which can be fixed with patience, time, and proper dog training techniques. 

Are Owners Legally Allowed to Put a Dog to Sleep at Home?

Only a licensed and qualified practitioner can put your dog down, so it’s illegal to do it at home.

Without proper training and licensing, it is considered animal cruelty.

You can receive guidance on this process in many places, such as your local vet, animal shelter, or animal governmental services. 

Why Should You Consider In-Home Passing?

Taking your dog to a vet isn’t always an option or your preference. Here are four reasons why you may want to consider letting your dog pass on at home:

dog at rest after benadryl

1. It’s More Affordable Than the Vet

In-home action is less expensive than taking your dog to a veterinary clinic for an injection. Depending on your location, at-home alternatives may be the only financially feasible option.

2. Your Dog Will Be Put To Sleep In a Familiar Setting

While at a vet clinic your dog will be surrounded by unfamiliar sounds and smells, a peaceful home environment may provide comfort.

Dogs and cats are easily overstimulated, and it’s not the best call to stress them more in their final moments.

3. You Want To Be There for Your Dog in Their Final Moments

Most vet offices allow the family to be present at the time of passing, but not all. 

Allowing your pet to pass at home lets you better control the environment. The more familiarity, the better. Check with your local vet clinics, NGOs, and shelters for low-cost at-home veterinarians. 

4. You Are Experienced With the Process

Are you a vet? If you can legally perform this service safely and accurately, it is an obvious choice. 

Can I Put My Dog Down with Benadryl?

Though there are many ways to lay your dog to rest, Benadryl shouldn’t be your go-to.


If not administered properly, it can severely affect your canine’s condition for the worse, cause further suffering, and leave you with a severe problem. 

You should never put down your animal without correct professional assistance. And, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Call your local shelters, NGOs, and veterinary offices to find a low-cost alternative to putting your loved pet to sleep in the right way.

Dogs metabolize medication differently than humans do. It’s essential to follow specific instructions for your dog’s weight or risk a painful error.

Treatment with Benadryl is based on the dog’s weight. For Benadryl to be effective, your dog’s weight needs to be accurately measured. It’s important that they get enough so it has the full effect.

However, most methods are done through an IV, so when using pill-form Benadryl, it’s challenging to get accurate dosages for fatality. Too low of a dose can cause delayed death and suffering.

This is why it’s best to use a low-cost veterinarian, if anything to make the procedure swift.

What is Benadryl?

Benadryl is a common human medication used to treat allergies and colds. It’s also used for anesthesia during minor surgeries in pets. The dosage of Benadryl for dogs is based on their weight, so it’s crucial to have an accurate reading.

pink benadryl tablet on a yellow background

Benadryl Effects on Dogs?

Benadryl is commonly used for treating allergic reactions in dogs. You can administer a small dosage (dependent on weight) to treat most reactions such as hives, swelling, inflammation, and anaphylactic outcomes.

Most vets advise against fatal doses of Benadryl because too much can go wrong and cause further injury.  

Without proper professional advice, Benadryl can cause:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Inability to urinate
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing

How Long Will it Take For Benadryl to Take Effect on Your Dog?

After administering Benadryl, it can take anywhere from 3 hours to 12 hours for your dog to fall into a deep sleep and pass away. It’s not a guarantee it will be completely effective. 

Chances are, you’d have to readminister the medication two or three times throughout the procedure for it to take effect. 

Depending on their size and weight, some dogs will pass much quicker than others. We do not advocate for using Benadryl over consulting with a licensed veterinarian.

As you can see, this at-home process takes hours, while a veterinarian can help a pet carry over within 20 minutes or less. 

What To Do After?

After your dog is asleep, it’s important to have someone by their side until they pass away.

This can be highly comforting, especially if they are in pain or otherwise agitated. Familiar faces all around.

How to Cope With Pet Loss?

Dealing with the loss of any pet is never easy. They are considered a member of the family so it’s normal to feel a hole missing when they’ve passed on.

grieving after pet loss

There are many ways to cope with this loss – some owners choose to get another dog, while others prefer to take some time off.

Previous dog parents provide these top tips for grieving the loss of your best bud: 

1) Allow yourself time to grieve. Just as losing a relative, you’re going to be missing your little comrade for years to come. Take your time to revisit photos, videos, and memories while being thankful for being on the planet at the same time as them.

2) Don’t blame yourself for your dog’s death. Most of the end of life decisions are made because they need to be. You are your canine’s parent, after all.

Putting down a sick, in-pain, or elderly animal shows you care about their wellbeing and want to ease their suffering. Sometimes as much as you’d like to keep them around, it simply isn’t fair in their current medical state. 

3) Share their memories with others. One common action dog owners do when their pets cross the rainbow bridge is to celebrate their life by donating to an animal shelter, playing with dogs at a dog park, or doing something that their pets loved. 

4) Ask for help if you need it. We understand the significance of furry friends in our lives, so if you feel helpless and depressed, reach out! Get involved with family and friends.

5) Adopt another dog. If you have the means to do so, adopt from a local shelter and invest your love into this new family addition. All dogs deserve a loving face, and why not celebrate your pup’s life by giving another dog a chance at a good life?

Check-in if you have other animals at home. Pets also miss their brothers and sisters, so adopting a new dog into the house might pull your furry friend out of deep sadness. 

Is It Safe To Give Dogs Benadryl?

Most dogs can safely take Benadryl. It usually causes them to feel sleepy, but it’s generally not harmful.

Seek advice from a veterinarian before trying it with your dog if he or she has any health issues. Administering the right dosage is important to ensure safety.

How Much Benadryl Is Safe for Dogs?

The amount of Benadryl that is safe for dogs depends on their size and the dosage you are administering.

Always follow your vet’s instructions or ask if unsure. As a guide, some vets recommend giving 3 mg of Benadryl per kg of dog weight 2-3 times per day.

petting her husky dog while sitting on the couch

How Much Benadryl Is Fatal for a Dog?

The fatal dose for Benadryl can depend but as a guide, it would be between 25-30 mg per kg of body weight.

It can be fatal if given in smaller amounts or when combined with other medications so always seek advice from a veterinarian before giving your dog Benadryl.

If you are not a professional, consult with local experts to help you with this procedure.

How Can I Help My Dog Pass Away?

The short answer is simply by being you and loving them until their final moments.

At home is always the calmest avenue for animals because it could be painful to transport them, and have them be in a strange environment. 


If you’re considering putting your dog down at home with Benadryl, we hope this article has provided some helpful information and guidance.

It can be a difficult decision to make but remember that the benefits of providing a peaceful death for your pet outweigh any difficulties or complications associated with it.

Remember also that there is no right or wrong answer when making such an important decision; only what feels most comfortable to you as an individual and owner. Always, always, always consult with your local resources to make sure you’re making the right choice.

Low-cost alternatives are closer than you think. Most vets are 100% ready to lend a hand to help any dog pass on peacefully and with limited owner stress. 

Photo of author

Lovelia Horn

I’m a certified crazy dog mom, a physical therapist (for hoomans), writer, animal rescuer, and foster home provider. Together with my hubby Ryan, I’ve fostered and helped look for forever homes for over a hundred shelter dogs in the Southern Illinois area. I mostly work with Puppy Rescue 911, Inc., a certified animal rescue organization based out of Chester, IL (home of Popeye!)

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