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Minocycline is a semi-synthetic tetracycline antibiotic that has many similarities with doxycycline. Minocycline may be used orally (dogs, cats, and horses) or intravenously (dogs and cats). Tetracycline antibiotics are broad spectrum and bacteriostatic. Their mechanism of action is through the inhibition of protein synthesis and the alteration of cytoplasmic membrane permeability within the susceptible organism.
Minocycline has increased penetration into bacterial cells and increased pharmacologic activity when compared to tetracycline. It is effective against a broad spectrum of gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria, and a wide variety of other organisms including Rickettsia, Spirochetes, Mycoplasma, and Chlamydia. In addition to its use as an antibiotic, minocycline is used in low doses as an anti-inflammatory and adjunct treatment for arthritis and degenerative joint disease in dogs and horses. This use is based on the inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases. Minocycline is well-absorbed after oral administration, and its absorption is minimally affected by the presence of food in the stomach. It is less disruptive to normal GI bacterial flora than tetracycline. Minocycline may be used in animals with decreased kidney function because it is extensively metabolized via the liver, and then primarily excreted as inactive metabolites in the feces and urine.
Minocycline is used in dogs to treat susceptible bacterial infections and infections caused by Rickettsia, Canine ehrlichiosis (anaplasmosis), Toxoplasma, Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease), Leptospirosis, and Neorickettsia helminthoeca (salmon poisoning). Minocycline is used in cats to treat susceptible bacterial infections and infections caused by a number of other organisms including Bartonella, Mycoplasma, Dermatophilus, and Mycobacteria.
Minocycline is used in horses to treat susceptible bacterial infections and tick-borne diseases such as Ehrlichia, Anaplasma, and Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease). There is some research that suggests that oral minocycline may have superior bioavailability and reach higher tissue-concentrations in horses when compared to oral doxycycline.
There is a great deal of research interest in the use of both doxycycline and minocycline for the treatment of osteoarthritis in performance horses. Although the precise, effective dose is not clear at this time, it would appear that both doxycycline and minocycline protect against cartilage degradation at a dose that is considerably lower than the antimicrobial dose. Preliminary studies also indicate that minocycline may be more effective than doxycycline for the treatment of osteoarthritis. This is an area of active research and recommendations may change.
Oral overdose of minocycline in most instances will cause pronounced GI distress. Oral antacids may be helpful to decrease gastrointestinal symptoms. Supportive care, including intravenous fluids, may be necessary.
Dogs, Cats and Horses
May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
Susceptible bacterial and other infections
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Barbara Forney, VMD
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.
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