Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Becky Roberts
Maybe. Amoxicillin is an effective drug that treats bacterial infection in dogs. However, there’s a catch. Amoxicillin can have adverse effects if given incorrectly. So how should you give Amoxicillin? Are there any side effects? Keep reading to find out just how safe they are. And make sure to stick until the end as I have a bonus tip you don’t wanna miss!
What it’s for
Amoxicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Broad-spectrum means it targets both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. It is commonly used to treat bacterial infections both in humans and dogs. Some of the most common ones are infections in the mouth, urinary, skin infections, digestive tracts, and upper respiratory.
Amoxicillin is a common antibiotic prescribed by veterinarians because the drug works by hindering the formation of cell walls in bacteria. It not only kills existing ones but prevents the growth of new bacteria as well.
I, however, cannot stress enough that Amoxicillin cannot cure viral nor parasitic infections. They don’t treat fungal infections like Ringworms as well. It wouldn’t only be ineffective but counterproductive too. Using the wrong antibiotic can be damaging to your pet. This is another reason why the advice of your veterinarian is needed before you administer any kind of medicine.
When not to give Amoxicillin
The first thing you should know is that Amoxicillin should not be given when you aren’t sure what kind of bacteria your dog has. Misusing antibiotics can cause the creation of superbugs. Superbugs are bacteria that have become immune to antibiotics.
A study in 2011 shows that Amoxicillin is the most common antibiotic prescribed to treat both confirmed and suspected bacterial infections. 17% of those cases were confirmed bacterial infections. 45% is for ‘suspected’ bacterial infection only. And you know what the rest of the 38% is? No evidence of any infection was seen. How crazy is that? Bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics are risky. The bacteria can attack other parts of the body that can lead to the worsening of your pet’s condition. We may not be able to control other factors for why superbugs are created, but we can manage the overuse of antibiotics.
Typically, when your vet performs a test to find out what bacteria is making your dog sick, he will also find out which antibiotics the bacteria are sensitive to. This is called a sensitivity profile. The results will tell him which antibiotic to use and for how many days the treatment will be. This prevents prescribing the wrong antibiotic. And on top of that, he can give the right dose enough to kill it but not low enough to make superbugs.
Similarly, Amoxicillin shouldn’t be given to pets that are allergic to penicillin, cephalosporins, or other beta-lactam antibiotics. Pets with blood infections, shock, and other grave illnesses shouldn’t be given Amoxicillin. The same applies to pregnant, lactating pets, and puppies. Canines on certain meds may also be at risk.
Human Amoxicillin vs. Pet Amoxicillin
Generally, human-grade Amoxicillin is not recommended for pets. Amoxicillin for humans may contain toxic ingredients like artificial flavorings, colors, and preservatives. One specific component every pet owner should look out for is Xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can be fatal for dogs when ingested. Antibiotics solely for veterinary use are relatively safer to use. They are also easier to determine for the proper dosage. Although your best bet would be the dosage recommended by your vet.
Side Effects of Amoxicillin
Because of the way Amoxicillin works, the drug can change the bacterial population in the gastrointestinal tract. This is why a common side effect of antibiotics is GI related. Conventional side effects include:
- Abdominal pain
Pet owners should also look out for any allergic reaction to Amoxicillin. Some of the symptoms of Amoxicillin allergy are:
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling of the tongue or lips
- Loss of appetite
- Watery eyes
- Anaphylactic shock (rarely happens)
If your dog shows symptoms of fainting, severe swelling, or shortness of breath, call your veterinary office immediately.
If you need one more reason why you should consult with your vet before giving antibiotics, this may convince you. Just like in humans, negative interaction can happen to dogs. Amoxicillin may cause an unexpected side effect when taken with certain drugs. Antacids, bacteriostatic antimicrobials, aminoglycosides, Neomycin, methotrexate, probenecid, or warfarin are some of them.
Now, why is this important?
Self-medicating your dog without proper knowledge is dangerous. Even vets should be informed of any medication, vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies your dog is taking so he can adjust doses or advice you to stop giving some vitamins. Letting your vet do a thorough examination before giving any medicine is paramount.
Question: how do you properly administer Amoxicillin?
How to give Amoxicillin
There are four ways you can give Amoxicillin. Some brands take the form of capsules in 250 mg, 500 mg, and 875 mg. The rule of thumb is to not exceed 10mg per pound of your dog’s body weight. 250 mg is for dogs weighing between 25-50 pounds. 500 mg capsules are suitable for larger dogs weighing 50-100 pounds. For even larger dogs that weigh more than 85 pounds, the 875 mg capsule may be prescribed.
If your dog is on the smaller side, a liquid suspension may be the better option. It’s easier to give in smaller quantities. Other forms include tablets and some intravenously. If need be, you can break up pills for a smaller dosage.
Amoxicillin can be given with or without food. However, if vomiting occurs when given on an empty stomach, give future doses with food. But generally, Amoxicillin is not sensitive to gastric juices. You may also notice that improvements can be seen after a few days. Still, continue giving the prescribed medication for 10 days (as that is usually the prescribed duration). Remember to give every 12 hours.
If you missed a dose, administer as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the next scheduled dose, just return to the usual schedule. Do not give extra doses or give two doses at once.
Preventing bacterial infection
Antibiotic is a powerful drug that kills almost any kind of infection. And it’s a good thing because bacteria infection is pretty common for our canine friends. Even so, making sure that our pets are well-equipped to fight against diseases is the best way.
Some of the ways you can prevent infection are:
- Providing a balanced diet
Dog foods are our dog’s weapon against diseases. Feeding him the best quality dog food ensures that he gets all the essential nutrients he needs. You might like this review and comparison we made on the best dog foods.
- Keeping dog houses clean
Hygiene plays a key role in being healthy for your dog. Keep sleeping areas and other places your dog likes to stay in clean. Parasites and bacteria are known to settle in dog beds bringing potential diseases for your dog. Washing dog beds every few weeks should do the trick.
Also related: Best dog beds, best dog houses
As I have previously mentioned, antibiotics kill both the good bacteria and bad bacteria in your dog’s gut. One way to replace the good bacteria he lost is to give yogurt hours after he takes his medicine. Yogurts are rich in probiotics. They can be a healthy treat after a long stressful day in the vet’s office.
Read more of this on Can Dogs Eat Vanilla Yogurt?
Amoxicillin is safe for dogs provided that it’s the right dose. Overdose, negative interactions, and superbugs can happen when administered incorrectly. Consulting with your vet can give you the best results.