Topical Antibiotics for Dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

Veterinarians prescribe topical antibiotics for dogs to treat minor cuts, scratches, hot spots, abrasions, or inflammation due to contact dermatitis or allergies. Certain canine ear and eye conditions also are treated with topical antibiotics. These prescription preparations come in a variety of forms, including sprays, ointments, salves, lotions and creams, and often contain both active and inactive ingredients. Most are applied several times a day and should not be ingested, so prevent your dog from licking the area for at least 15 minutes after application so that the skin can absorb the medicine.

Common Topical Antibiotics

Panolog Cream topical antibiotic is used on dogs to treat skin and ear infections or inflammation. Panolog Cream contains ingredients that should never be used on the eyes, nor should it be used to treat deep abscesses or serious infections.

Consult your veterinarian before using triple antibiotic ointments, such as Neosporin and Mycitracin, that combine bacitracin, neomycin and polymyxin B. "It is OK to use human triple antibiotic ointment on simple scrapes or abrasions, but if your dog's skin lesion is more extensive, you should have your dog checked by your veterinarian," according to Hillsboro Veterinary Clinic.

Gentamicin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is an effective topical treatment for bacterial infections of the skin.


Over-the-counter, non-prescription topical antibiotics may be used for minor cuts, skin irritations and scrapes. Creams such as neomycin, bacitracin, Mycitracin and triple antibiotic ointments are safe but your dog's injury should be monitored daily for swelling and redness.

Stronger topical antibiotics are prescribed to treat abrasions, cuts and minor puncture wounds. These wounds can be very painful and are easily infected, so clean them with sterile saline solution (or even warm tap water with salt added) or an antiseptic cleanser before applying a topical antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

If a wound seems deep or you are not sure how serious it is, consult your veterinarian. Infections can develop quickly and within 48 hours a wound can go from just needing minor care and antibiotics to extensive surgery and hospitalisation.

Hot Spots

Hot spots, sometimes known as summer sores or moist eczema, can appear anywhere on a dog's body and spread rapidly. "This skin disorder has a variety of causes but the most consistent factor is bacteria," according to ABC Animal Hospital. There are a number of kinds of bacteria found in hot spots and most respond to oral and topical antibiotics.


Bacteria can cause ear infections if the ear environment changes due to allergies, hormone abnormalities, or moisture. Treatment depends on the cause and any secondary conditions, but for a simple bacterial ear infection, dogs are usually put on a two-week course of topical antibiotics. Many topical ear medications for dogs contain an aminoglycoside antibiotic, which, in rare cases, according to Vet Info, "can cause deafness in dogs. These include neomycin, gentamicin and amikacin." Less common ear medications contain alternative antibiotics, such as enrofloxacin or chloramphenicol.

Fly bites on your dog's ears can inflict terrible pain and discomfort, so be sure to start treatment immediately. Gently clean the ear with warm water and a mild antiseptic soap. Apply a topical antibiotic ointment to help to control any infection which may be present. Take your dog to the veterinarian if fly bites are severe or maggots are present.


Bacterial blepharitis causes a dog's eyelids to become thick, reddened, inflamed and encrusted. "It can be associated with various skin diseases, including canine atopy, demodectic mange, autoimmune diseases and hypothyroidism," according to Medicine Net. Use a washcloth soaked in warm water as a daily compress and apply ophthalmic topical antibiotic ointment as prescribed.

Another eye condition, bacterial ulcerative keratitis, is also treated with topical antibiotics, and, unless the ulcers are severe, topical antibiotic treatment should, "eradicate the infection, reduce or stop the corneal destruction ... control ... the pain associated with it, and minimise the scarring," as reported by Science Direct.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author