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Amikacin for Dogs, Cats and Horses

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General Drug Information and Indications

Amikacin is an injectable antibiotic that is used to treat serious bacterial infections in dogs, cats, horses, ferrets, birds, reptiles, pocket pets/small mammals and pet fish. Amikacin is a bactericidal antibiotic which means that it kills the bacteria that are sensitive to it. It is most effective against gram negative bacteria and has no effect on fungus, viruses, or bacteria that grow where there is no oxygen (anaerobic). Gentamicin is another antibiotic from the same family as amikacin. Some of the gram negative bacteria that are resistant to gentamicin remain sensitive to amikacin and amikacin also has the advantage of being less toxic to the kidneys.

Amikacin is also used in topical medications for the ears, eyes, and skin. When amikacin is used in the ears or on the skin, it may be selected after a bacterial culture indicates that the infection is sensitive to amikacin. Amikacin is FDA approved for use in dogs. It has not been approved for use in other domestic species although it is commonly used in other species and is accepted practice. When the appropriate form or dose of this drug is not available through a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer, it may be compounded by a specialty pharmacy.

How to Give this Medication

Give this medication to your pet exactly as your veterinarian prescribes. If you miss giving your pet a dose of amikacin, give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, return to the regular schedule. Do not double dose to catch up.

The injectable form of amikacin is usually given in a hospital situation and in most instances is only given once a day.

When amikacin is included in an eye medication, it is usually given quite frequently. Your veterinarian will instruct you on how to administer and how often to administer.

Amikacin is not very effective in the presence of pus or other organic debris. If you are using amikacin in a skin medication, your veterinarian will instruct you regarding cleaning the area.

Wash your hands after giving your pet this medication.

Side Effects

Be sure to discuss any side effects with your veterinarian immediately.

Amikacin and other antibiotics in this family are reserved for serious illnesses. The most common side effects from injectable administration are kidney damage or hearing and balance problems due to ear toxicity.

Topical use (skin, eyes or ears) is unlikely to cause side effects like those seen with injectable use.


Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children. This drug should only be given to the animal for which it was prescribed. Do not give this medication to a person.Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.

Systemic amikacin crosses the placenta and is found in maternal milk. It is usually not used in pregnant animals unless the possible benefits of therapy outweigh the risks.

Systemic amikacin is generally not used in animals with kidney problems. Your veterinarian may use additional precautions in very young or very old animals. Drug monitoring is available to measure amikacin levels for safer use in animals where there is concern regarding kidney function.

Drug Interactions

Be sure to review with your veterinarian any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving. The following drug interactions relate to systemic amikacin use. There are no recognized drug interactions for topical use.

Amikacin should be avoided or used with caution with other drugs that have potential toxicity to the ear, kidneys, or nervous system. This includes: diuretics (such as furosemide), cisplatin, amphotericin B, polymixin B, vancomycin, phenylbutazone, and some of the drugs used in general anesthesia.


If you suspect your pet or another animal was overdosed accidentally or has eaten this medication inadvertently, contact your veterinarian or the A.S.P.C.A.'s Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Always bring the prescription container with you when you take your pet for treatment.

If you or someone else has accidentally ingested this medication call the National Capital Poison Center at 800.222.1222.


Different strengths or dosage forms of amikacin may have different storage requirements. Read the labeling or ask your pharmacist for the storage requirements of the prescription you receive.

About the Author

Dr. Barbara Forney

Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.

She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.

Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.