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Common Antibiotics for Dogs and Cats

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Antibiotics Commonly Prescribed for Pets

Like humans, dogs and cats develop bacterial infections that require a treatment program involving antibiotics. Antibacterial medications are essential for treating these infections because they destroy the infected organism while leaving your pet's healthy cells intact.

Some antibiotics work by preventing bacteria from building cell walls, thereby stopping their ability to reproduce, while others work by starving the bacteria to prevent the infected organism from being able to turn glucose into energy. Here are the most-common antibiotics used in veterinary medicine to treat infections in dogs and cats and their uses.

Top Antibiotics for Dogs

The five most-common antibiotics prescribed for dogs include:

Amoxicillin/Clavulanate—This antibiotic combo is related to Penicillin and is used to treat a broad spectrum of bacterial infections, including skin infections, infections in the respiratory system, gastrointestinal infections, and genitourinary infections.

Gentamicin—Gentamicin is prescribed to treat dogs with eye infections, ear infections, and pneumonia. This medicine also is prescribed with an anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce redness and swelling.

Chloramphenicol—Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic that has a level of pH that can be safe enough for it to completely pass through your dog's body. This makes it a top choice for treating a dog with bacterial infections in the organs.

Sulfamethoxole—Sulfamethoxole is used to treat urinary-tract infections in dogs. This antibiotic can be hard on a dog's gastrointestinal system and it often causes side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. While your dog is taking sulfamethoxole, make sure she drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Tetracycline—Tetracycline can treat a variety of bacterial infections because it prevents proteins from synthesizing. Tetracycline is used whenever another antibiotic has proven ineffective because it has the ability to break through the protection barriers the bacteria use to protect themselves.

Top 5 Antibiotics for Cats

The five most-common antibiotics prescribed for cats include:

Amoxicillin—Amoxicillin is prescribed by veterinarians to treat bacterial infections in cats. It is highly effective against everything from skin infections to gastrointestinal infections.

Cephalexin—Cephalexin is another broad-range antibiotic that is popular for use in cats because it typically produces minimal side-effects. It is used to treat urinary tract infections, skin and soft tissue bacterial infections, infections in the bones, and respiratory tract infections.

Clindamycin—This antibiotic is used to treat toxoplasmosis, but it's also a top pick for treating bacterial infections in cat's skin, mouth, or bones. It is used to treat kittens because it is very well tolerated and relatively fast-acting.

Enrofloxacin—Enrofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic. It is prescribed to treat infections of the urinary tract, skin, prostate, lungs, gastrointestinal system, and liver.

Metronidazole—Metronidazole is a go-to antibiotic for treating cats with periodontal disease, though it also is effective against gastrointestinal infections.

Any time your dog or cat has an infection, take her to your veterinarian for an examination. Infections are not something you can and treat on your own using over-the-counter antibiotics or antibiotics bought from a non-certified compounding pharmacy online. Infections must be treated with exact doses and treatment lengths.

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.