Piriton is an antihistamine medication. The drug in piriton is called Chlorphenamine maleate and differs from other commonly used human antihistamines such as Piriteze or Clarityn which contain completely different medications or active ingredients. Piriton is a pharmaceutical product manufactured for use in humans; there is no antihistamine licensed for use in dogs at this time.
What is piriton used for?
In humans, piriton is used to ease the symptoms of allergy and allergic reactions such as insect bites, stings or hives, rashes (caused by food allergies) and hay fever.
Does piriton have any side effects?
Yes, it isn’t uncommon for pets to experience lethargy or drowsiness. This could be mistaken for your pet being less itchy but in fact, they could just be less able to act on their itchiness!
Other side effects could include constipation (or less commonly diarrhoea), nausea or vomiting. Care must be taken to ensure that any antihistamine given to your pet doesn’t contain amphetamine, caffeine, pseudoephedrine, or alcohol which could make your pet very sick indeed. These can be found in the medication due to it being manufactured for the human market.
My dog is itchy, is it safe to just give them a piriton then?
Generally, if your pet is fit and healthy then piriton will be safe to give. However, as a human medication, only your vet can prescribe piriton under the “veterinary cascade”.
This means that knowing the history of your pet, your vet can consider any medication your pet is currently on, and any health concerns your pet currently has and if deemed safe, piriton can be prescribed. Any medications that are not veterinary licenced need to go through this prescribing cascade.
It is illegal to give your pet any human medication without direct supervision of a veterinary surgeon.
Why does the “veterinary cascade” exist and what does it do for me and my dog?
The veterinary cascade is a licensing law designed to protect you and your pets. The law ensures that medication that is sometimes readily available over the counter for people, isn’t used unsafely in our pets. Piriton isn’t recommended for pets with certain medical conditions. (e.g., heart disease, hypothyroidism, obstructive bladder or bowel disease etc). Or those on some types of medication (e.g., some anti-sickness medications, heart medications, anxiety medications etc). If piriton is used in some of these unwell pets, severe adverse effects, even seizures and death could be the consequence- so let your vet advise you if your pet is able to take any medication, the dose and frequency of giving it.
The dose will be prescribed based on your pets’ weight. So make sure you have an idea of this when you give your vet a call.
Is piriton the best medication for my pets’ allergy or itch?
This is a great question! In healthy pets with no pre-existing conditions, piriton can be useful in some circumstances. It has been found that piriton / antihistamines can be useful in emergency treatment of bites and stings. BUT that doesn’t at all replace the need for immediate veterinary attention subsequently. It is important that if your pet is experiencing signs of allergy such as hives, localised swelling, respiratory symptoms, vomiting, diarrhoea, collapse, or anaphylaxis, that you seek immediate veterinary attention.
In general, especially for chronic (on going) allergic conditions such as skin or food allergies in pets, Piriton has been found NOT to be overly efficacious as a sole therapy (when used alone). Piriton may be useful alongside other medications or included in your treatment protocol, which can be discussed with your vet. There are lots of medications that have been developed to treat or manage chronic allergy and skin disease that are much more efficacious and help your dog live a more comfortable life, so don’t worry, you and your vet will need to work closely together, but a good solution will be available once all the different factors affecting your dogs’ skin has been considered and addressed, a diagnosis reached and treatment plan formed.