What antibiotics are commonly used to treat dogs?

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 defence is usually antibiotics. Luckily, there are plenty of antibiotics on the market that are made specifically for use in dogs. Antibiotics vary in how they work. It's important to discuss the specifics of your dog's prescribed antibiotics before attempting to dose your animal.


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.


Cephalexin is related to the penicillin class of antibiotic. Cephalexin is used to treat a broad range of bacteria in different areas of your dog's body. This antibiotic can be used for bacterial infections of the bone, skin and wounds on the body. 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.


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. Side effects are rare, but your animal should be watched closely for any signs of a change in behaviour. Any significant change should be reported to your veterinarian.


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.


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 diarrhoea. 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.

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About the Author

Chris Sherwood is a professional journalist who after years in the health administration field and writing health and wellness articles turned towards organic sustainable gardening and food education. He now owns and operates an organic-method small farm focusing his research and writing on both organic gardening methods and hydroponics.