Antibiotics For Dogs

Antibiotics literally means against life (anti = against, biotic = life). Just like humans, dogs are especially susceptible to bacterial infections in different parts of the body. When these types of infections occur, the first line of defense is usually antibiotics. At some point most dogs are going to need a dose of antibiotics, either as a preventative measure or to cure an infection of some type. Antibiotics are pretty simple and safe to use, provided you follow 3 simple rules:

  • Use the right drugs;
  • Give the right dose;
  • Keep the dog on the medicine long enough.

Purpose of Antibiotics in Dogs:

Antibiotics are prescriptions derived from bacterial sources specifically to fight other, more harmful bacteria. Different antibiotics attack bacteria in different ways. Some disturb the structure of the bacteria cell, while others interrupt the pathways in which bacteria gets energy or uses protein. New antibiotics are constantly being discovered to replace older types that no longer fight bacteria. Unfortunately, the longer an antibiotic is used, the greater chance the harmful bacteria will become immune to the antibiotic. Because of this, it is important to follow the directions and dosing instructions on your dog’s prescription exactly to prevent the bacteria from becoming immune. The goal with antibiotics is to hammer down the infection and not give it a chance to develop resistance before it is wiped out. This means that keeping the dog on the antibiotics long enough is critical. If a dogs starts to look better after a few days, do NOT take it off the drugs! An antibiotic regime should last at least 7 days, and 12 days is better in most cases. The general rule of thumb is give the antibiotics for dogs for at least 3 days longer than it looks like there is a problem. If you skimp on the length of the dosage, you may really regret it later on, as the drugs you were using may no longer do the trick.

Uses of Antibiotics in Dogs:

If your dog is bitten by a fox, raccoon or another dog, wash out the wound and start antibiotics immediately. If it’s a groundhog bite, wash the wound & put some beta-iodine on it, The dog will probably be all right in about a week or so. If it’s a pretty big rip, treat it with clavamox, cephalexin or amoxicillin as a preventative. If an antibiotic doesn’t start to clear up an infection after 4 days, switch to a stronger antibiotic and start the regime again from the top.

Cephalexin for Dogs:

Cephalexin is related to the penicillin class of antibiotic. It is used to treat a broad range of bacteria in different areas of your dog’s body. This antibiotic is one of the best drugs used for bacterial infections of the bone, skin and wounds on the body. It is easy to come by without prescription, and inexpensive. It is also used to treat bladder and respiratory infections. Cephalexin may cause skin irritation at the site of the application, and it may cause digestive problems in some dogs who have been prescribed the medication. 2 common brand names are Keflex and Celaxin, and it is often prescribed for acne. Cephalexin only comes in oral form, and the dose is 10-15 mg per pound of body weight, given every 8 to 12 hours depending on the severity of the problem. If you are using a maintenance dose, give it every 12 hours. If the dog has an infection already, use it every 8 hrs. Either Cephalexin or Clavamox are “must have” drug for your vet kit. The fish-version of cephalexin is called cefalexin (Fish-Flex) and can be ordered in 250 mg capsules without a prescription. The 250 mg capsule is a perfect dose for a 15 pound dog.

Carprofen for Dogs:

Carprofen also marketed as Rimadyl, Imadyl, and Imafen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is used by veterinarians as a supportive treatment for the relief of arthritic symptoms in geriatric dogs. The recommended Rimadyl dosage for oral administration to dogs is 1 mg/lb of body weight twice daily. Rimadyl comes in 3 forms: non-chewable caplet, injection and chewable tablet. It can be given as a single full dose once per day, or divided in half and dispensed twice per day. Rimadyl should be given with food. It is only designed for dogs 6 weeks of age or older, and should never be given to cats. Possible side effects of Rimadyl include bloody stool or vomit, an allergic reaction, open sores in the mouth, rapid weight gain brought on by fluid retention, muscle (including abdominal) cramps and seizures.

Penicillin for Dogs:

If it’s the capsule form, forget it unless it’s the only antibiotic you have. A lot of infections are immune to penicillin, and it generally won’t help a staph infection at all. If this is the only antibiotic you have and you are on a desert island, use it, but otherwise look for something stronger. Indictable penicillin is not worth the trouble when we have so many other readily available options, such as cephelaxin (Fish-Flex).

Amoxicillin for Dogs:

Amoxicillin is another broad-based antibiotic from the penicillin class of antibiotics. This prescription medication is often given to dogs for respiratory infections, gastrointestinal infections, tissue and skin infections, and genitourinary. This is a general “all purpose” antibiotic that is cheap and easy to come by, but it does not knock down staph infections. Side effects are rare, but your animal should be watched closely for any signs of a change in behavior. Any significant change should be reported to your veterinarian. The oral dosage for amoxicillin is 10 mg per pound of dog, given every 8 to 12 hours, depending on the severity of the problem. The fish-version of amoxicillin (Fish-Mox) can be ordered in 250 mg capsules. You probably have some old amoxicillin around the house from the last time you got sick. This is fine to use even if “expired” more than a year ago.

Gentamicin for Dogs:

Gentamicin is a part of the cephalosporin class of antibiotics and is commonly prescribed to dogs for the treatment of pneumonia, conjunctivitis, ear infections, and open wound infections. Gentamicin is often combined with anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal medications in one package under names such as otomax and gentocin. Gentamicin is sometimes also used as a spray for fungal infections on the skin of your animal. In most cases, gentamicin is only used topically. Internal ingestion can sometimes cause serious side effects such as blindness or hearing loss in too high of doses.

Clavamox for Dogs:

This drug is very similar to amoxicillin but is a bit stronger and will knock down a staph infection. Clavamox for dogs will also treat respiratory infections and ear infections, so it’s a good all-rounder, as is cephalexin. It is only given orally.

Baytril for Dogs:

Baytril is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. Fluoroquinolones interfere with bacterial DNA metabolism to kill the bacteria. This is a pretty powerful antibiotic, and should only be given when other antibiotics have failed or if the dog already has a serious infection. Baytril works very well for skin, ear, wound, urinary, and mammary infections. In tablet form the dose for Baytril is 5.7 mg per 5 pounds of weight given orally twice a day (every 12 hours). For a 20 pound dog you would give one of the 22.7 mg tablets every 12 hours, or two of the 22.7 mg tablets once a day. It is fairly expensive — about 62 cents a pill. Stop giving baytril for dogs and seek emergency veterinary medical attention if your pet experiences an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue or face; or hives).

Sulfamethox for Dogs:

Sulfamethox is a broad range antibiotic that is sometimes combined with trimethoprim. This antibiotic is used for skin infections, gastrointestinal infections, respiratory infections, and urinary infections. Sulfamethox may cause side effects such as vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea. This antibiotic needs to be ingested with large quantities of water; it is important to monitor that your pet is drinking water as often as possible while on this antibiotic.

Metronidazole for Dogs:

Metronidazole (Flagyl for dogs) is used to treat protozoal infections in dogs and cats including GiardiaEntamoebaTrichomonas and Balantidium. It also is used to treat anaerobic bacterial infections. Metronidazole has immune-modulating activity and may be prescribed to treat inflammatory bowel disease. It may be used to treat colitis caused by other antibiotics, periodontal disease (especially in cats), Clostridium perfringens enterotoxemia, tetanus, diarrhea of undetermined cause, pancreatic insufficiency (with small-intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and complications of severe liver-disease. Metronidazole may be used with corticosteroids to treat inflammatory bowel disease or gum disease (gingivitis/stomatitis) in cats. Topical metronidazole gel is used to treat skin infections, such as feline chin acne. The usual dose of metronidazole for dogs is 3mg to 23mg per pound one to four times a day. The usual dose of metronidazole for cats is 5mg to 23mg per pound one or two times a day. Most common metronidazole side effects are bad taste or GI upset. Other dog and cat metronidazole side effects include excessive salivation, gagging, pawing at the mouth, regurgitation, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting.

Metacam for Dogs:

Metacam (Meloxicam for dogs) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) oral suspension highly effective to control pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis in canine. It provides a full 24 hours of pain relief for your dog. Metacam side effects most commonly include stomach upset, kidney or liver malfunction and abdominal bleeding. Side effects may be mild and often temporary, like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Acepromazine for Dogs:

Acepromazine (Promace) is prescribed as a sedative for dogs suffering from anxious reactions to stressful events such as thunderstorms, fireworks or travel. Motion sickness can also be treated with acepromazine. The normal prescribed acepromazine dosage is 0.25 milligrams to 1 milligrams per pound of body weight (0.5 to 2.2 milligrams per kilogram). Acepromazine side effects may cause lethargy and unsteadiness in some pets, which may last for several hours. In more severe cases, it may significantly lower a dog’s blood pressure and body temperature, increase heartbeats and worsen seizure activity in epileptic dogs.

Doxycycline for Dogs:

Doxycycline for dogs is a broad spectrum antibiotic that kills different types of bacterial infections in pets. It’s a prescription medication that’s commonly administered to cure dogs suffering from Lyme disease and Chlamydia. In addition to this, vets often prescribe doxycycline to treat urinary tract infections and certain medical conditions like the Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Dogs should be given 2mg to 5mg of the drug, per pound of body weight every 12 hours or 24 hours. Dogs taking doxycycline often show signs of nausea and diarrhea. Doxycycline side effects include loss of appetite, hair loss, lesions, mental confusion, jaundice.


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