Last Updated on April 6, 2023 by Becky Roberts
Throughout their life, our dogs will get into some kind of an accident one way or another. One day you’ll find a small wound on your dog’s skin. And your instinct would kick in telling you to clean the wound and apply an antibiotic. Just like you would to your minor cuts, right? But can you really put antibiotic ointment on your dog? Is it safe? Keep reading because this guide is all you need. Seriously.
For humans, topical antibiotics are used to treat minor wounds. Antibiotics like Neosporin prevent a bacterial infection from occurring and keeps the injury clean and moist. While some wounds heal perfectly okay without antibiotics, some wounds may heal faster when an antibiotic is applied. Additionally, topical antibiotics can also reduce the appearance of scars.
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There are a lot of antibiotic ointments in the market. But for this article, I’ll be specifically talking about Neosporin. Because it is often found in our medicine cabinets, it is only fair we talk about how safe it is for our pups. But first, what is Neosporin?
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Neosporin is a brand name for an over-the-counter triple antibiotic treatment. A combination of 3 antibiotics, namely bacitracin zinc, neomycin sulfate, and polymyxin B sulfate. It’s gained popularity over the decades because of its bacteria-hindering properties. It does not only kill off existing bacteria but stops them from growing too. And when Neosporin is applied to the skin, it creates a physical barrier that prevents bacteria from entering the wound and protects you from infection. Cool right? Now, can you use it for dogs?
Neosporin for dogs
Yes, you can use Neosporin on your dogs. However, there are things you must do well to remember. At a glance, here are some of them:
- As a general rule, any new medication must be approved by your veterinarian. He can give you the right dosage and instructions to avoid unwanted side effects. Applying too much Neosporin can cause fungal infection – an even worse problem to treat. Some vets also advise to not overuse the ointment as it can hinder the natural defense mechanism of the body. It would result in wound healing slower. The use of triple antibiotic should only be limited to a period of 2-3 days.
- Stick to the standard, regular-strength formula in the form of ointment. The cream variety contains more additives and may be dangerous to your pet. Similarly, the extra-strength formulation has active ingredients that relieve pain that can be toxic to your dogs when ingested. Generally, there is no straightforward answer whether (the regular) Neosporin is toxic to dogs either. But the Pet Poison Hotline does warn that triple antibiotic ointments can be dangerous. If your pup does eat a large volume, you can expect GI upsets like vomiting and diarrhea. On the other hand, some experts claim that if your dog licks a small amount of medicine, there is no reason to be concerned. In fact, some authorities suggest you keep a triple antibiotic ointment in your dog’s first aid kit (of course, with the approval of your veterinarian). If you’re concerned about any poisoning, you may want to contact your veterinarian. Or if you have $50 to spare, the Pet Poison Hotline is available.
- Because the antibiotic is topically applied, your dog might have an adverse reaction to the ointment. Some of the clinical symptoms you can look out for are redness, itching, and hives. Severe symptoms are trouble breathing and swelling of the face. If your dog does show the latter, cease use and contact your veterinarian ASAP. To test if your dog’s skin is sensitive to the ointment, you can do a patch test beforehand. You can do this by choosing a small area on his skin and apply a small amount.
- Do not apply to large wounds or deep cuts. Neosporin only works as a first-aid ointment for small lesions. Puncture wounds like dog bites or from any animal, wounds that are profusely bleeding, or wounds that require stitches should not be treated at home. Similarly, any abrasions that look infected are also worth checked by an expert.
- Not all wounds should be treated with Neosporin. Irritation in your pup’s ears, eyes, paws, and surgical sites should not be applied with antibiotic ointment unless directed by your veterinarian. Neosporin is designed to be applied externally and for superficial wounds only. Ear infections and eye infections require a different treatment – one that doesn’t include Neosporin. If your pup has either of these, seek your veterinarian. He knows what to do.
- When it comes to wounds on your dog’s paw pads, you might also want your veterinarian’s advice. Your dog will just lick at his paws all the time and ingest the ointment. Considering the hazard, it’s just not worth it. In the meantime, you can check for any splinter and keep the paw pad clean while waiting for your appointment. In the same manner, if you notice anything unusual about his sutures and stitches, call your vet.
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How to properly apply triple antibiotic ointment?
If your vet gives the go-ahead, you need to clean the wounded area. You can use warm water or a saline solution and pat the area dry. Then, apply a thin layer of the ointment. To avoid him licking the medicine, you can use a bandage. Just be careful that it’s placed correctly. A poorly placed tourniquet can restrict blood flow and can be harmful. If you’re unsure, you can use an e-collar. Don’t worry he won’t be wearing it for a long time.
Just like children, your dog can get into accidents and hurt himself in the process. And that’s okay. It’s all part of the exhilarating journey of being a fur-parent. This, however, doesn’t mean we don’t worry about his injuries. When it comes to superficial wounds, antibiotic ointment can be our remedy. As per everything we give to our dogs, make sure you read the label. Use the regular ointment without the pain reliever additive as it can be dangerous. For serious wounds, don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian.
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