In June 2023, we received emails from readers about a years-old rumor that was being copied and pasted on Facebook that claimed one or more forms of the allergy relief product Benadryl contain xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is toxic and even deadly to dogs.
This rumor had similarities to a previous story we published that claimed McDonald's ice cream contains xylitol.
'Benadryl Products Do Not Contain Xylitol'
Benadryl is a brand name for diphenhydramine, an antihistamine that's commonly "used to relieve red, irritated, itchy, watery eyes; sneezing; and runny nose caused by hay fever, allergies, or the common cold," according to MedlinePlus.gov.
We checked the official website for Benadryl and did not see xylitol listed on any of its pages. We also looked at generic brands of comparable products and did not find any mentions of the ingredient.
Still, we double-checked by reaching out to Benadryl's parent company, Johnson & Johnson.
By email, Eilyn Segura, a spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson, told us that Benadryl does not contain xylitol. She also said that the product is not intended for use in animals:
BENADRYL® products do not contain Xylitol. BENADRYL® product labeling states that they are indicated for children and/or adults; these products are not intended for use in animals. Consumers should contact their veterinarian or Animal Poison Control if they have medical concerns or questions or have administered any of our BENADRYL® products to their pet(s).
If readers have any questions about what sorts of medicines are safe to give to their pets, we recommend contacting your veterinarian.
More About the Facebook Rumor
The rumor about Benadryl and xylitol was spreading on Facebook as copypasta, a term for online posts where users copy and paste the same text over and over again. Such posts often contain inaccuracies.
According to one repost of the rumor, the warning about Benadryl, xylitol, and dogs had been making the rounds online since at least June 2020. It's unclear who published the original post, nor was it clear when that post first appeared online.
The copypasta usually began with a story from a purported owner of a female dog named Remi, who said she had experienced health problems after her owner gave her a dose of Benadryl:
PSA… ALL DOG OWNERS: Reposted.......
Please read and share! (This was not my dog).
On Sunday night our dog Remi was bit or stung by something.. we sadly still don't know what.. she was vomiting and had hives. We did like most pet owners, looked on the internet and quickly gave her Benadryl, sadly she worsened almost immediately.
At 2:45 in the morning we rushed her to the emergency clinic. When she arrived, her pupils were nonresponsive, and she was experiencing tremors. They rushed her in and got her hooked up to IV and on meds. Her glucose level when we arrived was only 36 and her liver and kidneys were compromised.
By 6 AM she had stabilized but was still not safe. At 7:30 we had to transport her to another vet clinic more capable of helping her . She spent the day there and was able to come home that evening
She is now recovering well at home and we are thankful we did not lose her..
For three days I've been trying to figure out what went wrong and why she reacted to the Benadryl the way she did.. with the help of Dr. Brown from Fedore Vet Clinic we realized the liquid gelcaps Benadryl that I gave her had an ingredient (Xylitol) that is highly toxic to dogs. So why didn't the internet provide that warning for us?
The FDA has dropped the new warning that, while it's just fine for people, the sweetener, Xylitol, has proven to be fatal for dogs.
Benadryl allergy liquid gelcaps have this in them....
Xylitol also labeled as Tree Gum, Wood Sugar, Birch Sugar or Birch Wood Extract is an artificial sweetener found in everything from toothpaste to peanut butter to sugar-free gum and it's poisonous to dogs.
READ THE LABELS
It's now up to our dog community to spread the word and keep our dogs safe.
The post said that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a warning about xylitol being deadly if consumed by dogs. This was true.
However, again, the claim that Benadryl products contain xylitol is false, according to the company that makes the product.