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Amoxicillin for Dogs

March 14th, 2020
Amoxicillin for Dogs

Amoxicillin is a medication that will be familiar to many dog owners as they may have used one by the same name themselves at one time or another. While the properties of Amoxicillin are similar in both humans and dogs, the drug itself is not identical when it comes to giving it to your pup so do not think you can give your dog your meds out of your medicine cabinet. By giving them a human pill, you may introduce ingredients such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or xylitol that can be very detrimental to you your dog. The dosing is also very different for humans compared to canines. You would not want to give your dog a human dose through a miscalculation and make them sicker than they already are. You need to make sure they get the canine version for health and safety reasons.

Amoxicillin is considered better than penicillin as it is broader-based and isn’t hindered by the stomach acids once given to your pet. This drug gets rid of threatening bacteria by stopping the creation of the bacterial cell walls thus stopping the bacteria from forming. It is usually prescribed by vets to get rid of bacterial infections in animals such as mouth issues like tooth abscesses, lower respiratory tract infections, bacterial issues with the skin, sores, ear infections, urinary and digestive tract issues, Lyme borreliosis and other similar problems. Along with these infections, it will also treat strains of bacteria that include H. influenzae, N. gonorrhoea, E. coli, Pneumococci, Streptococci. It will not treat viral or parasitic infections.

Amoxicillin (Generic) Capsules for Dogs & Cats

Amoxicillin from the penicillin family and semisynthetic drug in the form a trihydrate which is a chemical compound that includes 3 molecules of water. Hence, the “tri” in the name. This compound is the ingredient that is active in this medication and provides a bactericidal activity to combat both gram-positive and gram-negative infecting bacteria. Amoxicillin spreads easily into the body and most of its tissue and fluid. This does not include the brain or spinal fluid though. However, it extends wide coverage overall.

Uses of Amoxicillin in Dogs

Amoxicillin can be prescribed to treat a large range of illnesses and ailments in dogs. Its broad-based ability means it can fight off many minor and major bacteria. It is a limited drug though as it can not treat viruses or parasites.

Amoxicillin can be used to treat:

Amoxicillin can be used to treat
  • Tooth Abscess – A tooth abscess happens when bacteria get into the root canal of a tooth when it is exposed. This can come for a tooth break which then exposes the tissue that is underneath the enamel. Your dog can also get an abscess from gum disease. The infection gets into the tissue around a tooth and then the bacteria infect the gum and tooth. This is an extremely painful condition for a dog and may present itself with symptoms such as disinterest in eating or chewing on toys, puffiness in the area of the tooth, not wanting to be touched near the area. All are signs there is a painful mouth issue. This can be treated with amoxicillin to control the infection and back up with an anti-inflammatory. Along with the meds, your pup will need a root canal or extraction to deal with the tooth itself.
  • Respiratory Tract Infection – amoxicillin is often used to target infection in the dog’s lower respiratory area. This is the part that has the smaller airways and the air sacs in the lungs. One of the main illnesses of this tract is pneumonia caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica, Pasteurella multocida, Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Escherichia coli, and Mycoplasma species. The first in this list causes kennel cough which is terribly easy to spread and catch and can spread quickly between dogs. Irritants like smoke and dust can also bother the lungs to the point of bacterial infection. Amoxicillin is often used to combat any of these bacteria to settle the lower respiratory tract.
  • Bacterial Skin Infection – When a dog gets a wound or sore on their skin, it opens up their system to bacterial infections. An infection of the skin is called Pyoderma. Its fairly common and can be treated. Once an owner sees the red, itchy skin they may recognize it as infection and know it's time for a vet visit. The vet will want to examine the skin, clean up any of the infected areas that they can then prescribe antibiotics and perhaps a topical cream to stop the itching and promote healing. These types of bacterial infections are easily dealt with if taken care of quickly.
  • Ear infections – Ear infections occur with many dogs, especially those with floppy ears. If you see them whining, scratching or shaking their heads then there is probably an issue with their ears. There are three types of ear infections which are otitis externa, media, and interna. Externa means the outer portion of the ear canal, otitis media and interna look to the middle and inner ear canal. These infections can spread from one part of the ear to the other. If they are not addressed with antibiotics in good time then your dog can end up deaf, having paralysis of the face or perhaps balance issues. Your dogs’ vet will clean out the ear and then prescribe an antibiotic and a possible pain reliever to help your dog through recovery.
  • UTI (Urinary Tract Infections) - These infections can be very uncomfortable for your dog and difficult to diagnose for you. The difficulty of figuring out if they have a UTI is the fact that they go outside to go to the bathroom. However, if you see symptoms such as licking their genitals more often than usual or see them having trouble urinating or seem like they are in pain while they are peeing then they need to be tested to see if they have a UTI. These bacterial infections can be helped with a prescription of antibiotics and possibly anti-inflammatory. Your dogs’ vet may also suggest preventative probiotics to help stop and prevent future infections.
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Urinary Tract Infections
  • Lyme borreliosis – Lyme disease – This disease happens more often than we would think. It is a common tick-borne illness. It is less known as it only presents with symptoms in 10% of dogs who carry the illness. The symptoms that do appear in some dogs show up in their joints. Their joints become swollen and sore and can often make them lame. They also feel very worn out and generally sick. The dogs can get depressed and has little interest in food. Without treatment, this disease can do serious harm to the kidney, heart and nervous systems. Antibiotics such as amoxicillin are crucial in controlling the onset and prevalence of the disease.
  • Other bacteria infections – These different infections can get into a dog’s systems in various ways. Amoxicillin will be used after the vet looks at where the infection is based and then assess the dog's age, medical history, and allergies. Dosages and length of time that the dog will need the amoxicillin is usually decided on a case by case scenario.
  • Bloodborne infections – Diseases that are found in the bloodstream will need to be assessed on an individual basis as each situation will come from a different infector. Ticks, fleas and other parasites may play a part in the evaluations.

 Dosage of Amoxicillin

Amoxicillin comes in doses ranging from 50mg to 875 mg. Oral suspension for veterinary use is available. The vet will recommend a dose based on 5-12mg for every pound your dog weighs. This should be given every 8-12 hours depending on the vet’s preference. Your dog does not need to take it with food but it sometimes helpful just to help keep their stomachs settled. These dosage quantities may vary depending on your dog, their size, general health, and ailment.

It's often suggested that dogs take antibiotics with food to make sure it doesn’t upset their stomachs. While amoxicillin can after the GI tract, it does not have to have food taken with it.

That being said, it won’t hurt to give the medication with food either. It may help keep your dog's stomach settled and will certainly speed up the absorption of the medication. It is also important to make sure your pup has lots of fresh water while they are on the full regimen of meds just to keep them hydrated and to help their systems absorb the prescription.

Your dogs’ vet will likely recommend that you give your dog their dosage around the same time every day not only because it keeps it easy to remember but it helps keep the same amount of medicine in your dog’s system over time. Doing this means there will be no spikes or drops in the amounts.

Amoxicillin is only obtainable with a prescription from your dogs’ veterinarian. As was pointed out earlier, your dog can not take human forms of the drug. There are some dogs who it is not recommended for such as: 

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  • Pregnant moms
  • Lactating moms
  • Young dogs
  • Dogs with liver disease

However, sometimes there will be a need to weigh the pros and cons of this as the benefits of the medicine may outweigh the problems that a dog might encounter.

Dosages for Dogs:

Amoxicillin is used to fight off bacterial infections in your canine and can be given in various forms as needed. It is sometimes combined with Clavulanate Potassium to help boost its bacteria-killing power. It protects the amoxicillin by preventing bacteria from destroying it. Amoxicillin can be given by capsule, liquid form, chewable tablets or regular tablets.

If you are using regular tablets then you may want to hide them in food or a pill pocket. Choosing a form of medication will be based on the best and easiest way to get the drug into your dog.

Amoxicillin Side Effects in Dogs

Amoxicillin should only be prescribed when the vet knows that it is a bacterial infection that is troubling your dog. If your pet has reacted to other antibiotics such as penicillin, then they may react strongly to this drug. While it should never be given to animals who are raised as food due to amoxicillin binds to protein, this is obviously not an issue with dogs. The other issue that may arise with amoxicillin is the fact that it doesn’t interact well with some other medications. It shouldn’t be taken with Allopurinol or Erythromycin. Beyond these precautions, you will also have to look for side effects that may occur on top of these other issues. Drugs will always list the possibilities of side effects simply to make sure that even if the occurrence is rare, owners will understand what may crop up on the off chance their dog reacts. Theses effects are listed for precautionary reasons in the hopes that should they occur the owner will seek treatment quickly as they will recognize them.

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General Amoxicillin side effects are listed as:

  • Rashes
  • Fever
  • Hives
  • Swelling of face or limbs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fast heart rate
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in temperament and behavior

Overdose symptoms are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sore abdomen

Extreme overdose symptoms:

  • Oliguric kidney failure
  • Blood in the urine

Allergic reactions – these tend to occur quickly:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Redness
  • GI upset
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Low blood pressure
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Some of these side effects can be reduced if your pup is given the medication with food. This will help settle their stomachs if they are upset. Water will also help this along with swallowing problems as this is often the pill getting stuck. If nausea and upset stomach get really bad, then there could be a problem with the prescribed amount of medication or a misdose causing too much to be in your dogs’ system and they start to overdose. Your vet needs to be called immediately if this is the case.

Amoxicillin can interact badly with some other limited medications. This can be critical so it's crucial to make sure your dog’s vet knows if they are taking any other drugs prescribed or not. This includes herbal remedies and over the counter ones as well. You don’t want them to have negative interactions so it's important to be proactive in this area. Some that can react poorly are:

Bacteriostatic antimicrobials such as:

  • Chloramphenicol
  • Erythromycin
  • Tetracyclines
  • Macrolides
  • Sulfonamides
  • Methotrexate
  • Probenecid
  • Neomycin sulfate
  • Antacids
  • Aminoglycosides
These various drugs that can have a negative interaction

These various drugs that can have a negative interaction won’t stop your dogs’ vet from prescribing amoxicillin, but it just means that extreme caution is needed when your dog takes the antibiotic. You may need to adjust the timing of when your dog takes it. There may need to be space between whatever meds they are already taking and the new antibiotic.

In the list of side effects, you can see that some can be fatal and one of these is the allergic reaction that comes with the ingestion of amoxicillin. It can lead to a fatally induced reaction called anaphylaxis. This reaction happens when your dog’s immune system reacts violently to the drug as its introduced. The reaction is a quick and severe swelling of the dog’s tongue and lips along with extreme hives or their airway can swell drastically creating an inability to breathe. If any of these severe side effects happen, your dog needs emergency care as their time will be very limited to get help and survive. 

As with every medication, the side effects always sound dire and frightening but in reality, these things rarely happen. Amoxicillin is a well tested and trusted medication that lays out any problems your dog might come across should they take it. It has great healing properties and if you are aware of the negatives then your dog should be in good hands. They will get good treatment for their infection, so they are healthier quicker. 

Final Th​oughts

Amoxicillin is a well-known medication that is widely used with great success in taking care of bacterial infections in various forms. The fact that is more helpful than the earlier forms of penicillin and other antibiotics makes it more useful to veterinarians as they attempt to get control of various infections in dogs. It works as both a primary and secondary medication and can be extremely useful in combination with anti-inflammatory and pain reduction meds.

As dog owners, we do our best to keep our canine companions in healthy and happy shape but there are times when we can’t do anything to keep the bacteria at bay. Illness can creep up when we least expect it. If you see symptoms that you think signal a bacterial infection, head to the vets to get confirmation and begin treatment as needed. Whether it’s a simple infection or something deeply systemic, the sooner your dog is diagnosed, and a treatment plan put in place, the better off they will be. Both your pup and you will both feel better when they are on the mend.