What Are Antibiotics?
Antibiotics are one of the most commonly recommended treatments for dogs that are used to treat bacterial infections. Infections that they treat include infections of the skin, mouth, eyes, ears, urinary tract, lungs, and other organs. They can also be used to prevent infections in high-risk situations, such as after a big incision or abdominal surgery. Antibiotics come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as distinct classifications. Each class fights microorganisms in a different way.
How do Antibiotics Work?
Bacterial antibiotics target your dog’s harmful cells while leaving the healthy ones alone. Antibiotics may prevent bacteria from building cell walls, stopping them from reproducing, depending on the treatment. Antibiotics can also starve bacteria by preventing them from converting glucose to energy, which is essential for all living cells.
What Are the Side Effects of Antibiotics in Dogs?
Antibiotics can come with a variety of side effects ranging from mild to severe. It’s important to take note of any side effects of antibiotics your dog may be experiencing during treatment and report it to the prescribing veterinarian. Side effects of antibiotics include:
While allergic reactions can happen, they are more on the uncommon side for dogs but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. They may occur immediately after taking (anaphylaxis) them or later on. If your dog is showing any signs of an allergic reaction, it’s best to stop the medication immediately and take them to the vet or emergency vet depending on the severity. It’s important to take note of the signs of an allergic reaction:
- Swelling of face or muzzle
- Skin rash or hives
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive salivation
Gastrointestinal problems are a common side effect of antibiotics. This includes nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. These commonly occur within the first few days of taking the medication. GI problems may be helped with taking food with antibiotics.
The chance of antibiotic resistance is why most vets and human doctors prescribe antibiotics with caution as overuse can deem the body resistant to antibiotics. It happens when germs grow resistant to the antibiotics used to kill them. As the germs multiply, the illness worsens and becomes more difficult to cure. Vets try to prevent this by prescribing the most appropriate antibiotic for the bacterium, selecting the appropriate dose, and advising on the optimum treatment duration. This is why, even if your dog looks to be getting better, it’s vital to stick to the antibiotic treatment plan.
Antibiotics can kill healthy bacteria in the body. The essential bacterial microbes in a dog’s body, such as in the GI tract and skin, play an important role in maintaining the body’s homeostasis. They improve the dog’s immune system, digestion, and even the production of important vitamins and minerals. To help counteract this, your veterinarian may suggest probiotic supplements.
Certain antibiotics, such as Metronidazole can induce ataxia (drunk gait), dilated pupils, head tilt to one side, nystagmus (involuntary fast eye movement), and even seizures in certain dogs.
What are the Different Types of Antibiotic Medications for Dogs and What Do They Treat?
Antibiotics are not one-size-fits-all. Different types of antibiotics are used to treat different things. So what are the different types of antibiotics and what conditions do they treat?
Metronidazole (Flagyl®) is an antibacterial and antiprotozoal antibiotic that is used to treat anaerobic bacterial and protozoal illnesses including Giardia and Trichomonas. It’s a common treatment for diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. It’s use to treat Giardia is considered off-label.
Clindamycin (Antirobe®, Cleocin®, ClinDrops®, Clintabs®) is an antibiotic used in dogs and cats to treat a variety of bacterial illnesses. Wounds, pyoderma, abscesses, bone, and dental diseases, and toxoplasmosis are all common uses. Its use to treat toxoplasmosisis and some other infections is considered off-label.
Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid (Clavamox®), often known as amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium, is a synthetic penicillin-type antibiotic that is used to treat infections caused by gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It’s used to treat infections of the skin and soft tissues, as well as periodontal (gum) disease. The clavulanic acid has been added to the amoxicillin to protect it against enzymes that may break down the antibiotic before it can kill the bacteria.
Gentamicin (Gentocin®, Genoptic®, Gentak®) is used to treat and prevent bacterial infections in dogs and cats, including respiratory infections, wound infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, bladder infections, and skin and ear infections.
Sulfamethoxazole Trimethoprim (brand names: Co-trimoxazole®, Primsol®, Bactrim®, Sulfatrim®, Novo-Trimel®, Septra®) is a mixture of antibiotics that act together to treat infections. Sulfamethoxazole Trimethoprim is commonly used to treat infections of the urinary system, skin, respiratory tract, and digestive tract as well as ear infections, kennel cough, coccidiosis, and pneumonia.
Doxycycline (Vibramycin®, Oracea®, Monodox®, Periostat®, Doryx®, Acticlate®) is an antibiotic that can be used to treat bacterial infections in dogs. It’s a broad-spectrum antibiotic, meaning it can combat a variety of bacteria. Tick-borne disorders such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and ehrlichiosis are commonly treated with the drug in dogs. It is also used to fight heartworm disease and periodontal (tooth and gum) disease in small animals.
Cephalexin (Rilexine®, Keflex®, Vetolexin®) belongs to a class of antibiotics called first-generation cephalosporin. It’s used to treat multiple infections in dogs including skin and soft tissue infections, bone infections, respiratory tract infections, ear infections, and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI). It’s effective against many different bacterias including E. coli.