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How Do I Choose The Best Antibiotic Cream For Dogs

Dog Care
11 minutes read
Choosing the best antibiotic option for your ailing dog that is best fit for them and you.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
September 7, 2022
Updated on:  
September 7, 2022

Your emotional support dog is an important family member. Their health will significantly impact your safety and comfort. Unfortunately, dogs can develop infections that only antibiotics can treat. When you notice your dog showing symptoms of a disease, you should get treatment as soon as possible.

One of the most common medications used to treat infections in dogs is antibiotic creams. However, there are a variety of antibiotic treatments in the pharmaceutical world, and choosing one that will get rid of your dog's particular infection can be challenging.

At A Glance:

  • What to Look for in An Antibiotic Cream for Dogs:  Many different antibiotic creams are available, so make sure you choose the right one for your pet.
  • What Conditions Do Antibiotic Creams Treat in Dogs? Choosing the suitable antibiotic cream can depend on many factors, including identifying the exact condition you are trying to treat.
  • How to Safely Apply Antibiotic Cream to Dogs: Got the cream, but not sure what to do next? Here, you'll find tips on applying over-the-counter antibiotic creams on dogs safely.
  • The Best Antibiotic Cream For Dogs: Our recommendations for the best antibiotic creams for your dog's specific needs.
  • When to Consider Oral Antibiotics for Your Dog: Reasons your dog might need a short course of antibiotics for internal infections.
  • The Best Oral Antibiotics for Dogs. Common oral antibiotics are often prescribed to treat internal infections.
  • Can Antibiotics Cause Side Effects in Dogs? Monitor for discomfort or irritation by knowing the side effects to keep an eye out for.
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What is Antibiotic Cream Used for in Dogs?

Antibiotic cream for dogs is used to treat injuries, skin problems, and various skin and ear infections. When choosing such a cream, it is essential to consider the strength of the cream and its suitability for use on dogs. It's also necessary to select an antibiotic cream suited for a dog's specific problem. Not all antibiotics will kill every type of bacteria. Consult a veterinarian to be sure you are using a product safe for your dog or if you are treating a problem for several days and the dog is not getting better.

What to Look for in an Antibiotic Cream for Dogs

Antibiotic cream for dogs must be obtained from a licensed veterinarian, at least in some countries. Other types are available over the counter and may be purchased at pet or drug stores. If you have a dog with a red, inflamed wound that does not respond to treatment, it may be necessary to try a more vital medication or a different combination of ingredients.

If your dog has an infected wound that does not respond to primary treatment, you may need to look at an antibiotic cream.

An excellent essential choice for antibiotic cream for dogs is a cream that contains either neomycin or bacitracin. These ingredients are typically safe for dogs and are easily found over the counter in various stores.

The human triple antibiotic compound contains those two antibiotics and adds polymyxin B for a cream that can kill a broader range of bacteria. Though this formula is for humans, it is safe to use on dogs if the wound is not severe. It is generally a good idea to apply the cream and supervise the dog for about half an hour to ensure it doesn't lick the medicine off before the skin can absorb it.

choosing antibiotic cream for dogs

When you need an antibiotic cream for dogs to use inside their ears or for application inside an abscess, look for a potent cream with features that make it suitable for such uses. 

Panalog® is an example of a topical antibiotic for dogs that can be applied to many kinds of injuries. It can also be used to treat ear infections. 

In the United States, this cream must be obtained from a veterinarian, but in other countries, this, or a similar product, may be available over the counter. Panalog® also has an anti-fungal component and an ingredient to help prevent itching.

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What Conditions Do Antibiotic Creams Treat in Dogs? 

When your dog gets sick, you should first take them to a vet to determine the type of infection before giving them antibiotics. Antibiotics do not cure all infections, only bacterial and yeast infections.

If your dog has a viral infection and you give them antibiotics, the condition might worsen, or the dog's body might develop a resistance to antibiotics.

Here are examples of infections and conditions that antibiotics will treat in dogs:

Ear Infections 

Dogs are prone to ear infections. When you notice your dog showing symptoms of an ear infection, the best thing to do is to take them to a vet, who will then ascertain if the disease is bacterial or caused by something else. 

If the disease is bacterial, they will prescribe an antibiotic cream you will apply to your dog's ear. Amoxicillin, Doxycycline, and Cephalexin are the most common antibiotics for dog ear infections.

Some of the symptoms of an ear infection include:

  • The dog continuously scratches its ears or shakes its head 
  • Brown, yellow, or green ear discharge that might be smelly
  • Ear canal swelling 
  • Red, irritated skin inside the ears

Urinary Tract Infection 

Just like humans, dogs also get urinary tract infections (UTIs) which can be painful and lead to bladder or kidney complications. If you think your dog has a UTI, you should take them to the vet as soon as possible. 

Some of the UTI symptoms to watch out for in your dog are:

  • Crying or whining during urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Leaking urine 
  • Licking their genitals 
  • Urinating more frequently than usual, but little pee comes out
  • Stiff or funny walk 

Most antibiotics used to treat UTIs are orally administered. However, there are some antibiotic creams, like Mupirocin, that you can apply to your dog's genitals if they have a UTI.

Eye Infections

If your dog's adorable puppy eyes become watery or have goop or crust in the corner, it might indicate an eye infection. Eye infections are caused by different things ranging from allergies and injuries to congenital disabilities or foreign matter in the eye. 

The most common antibiotic cream for a dog eye infection is Terramycin, an ointment that contains Polymyxin and Oxytetracycline.

Skin and Tissue Infections 

Skin and tissue infections are the most common conditions treated by antibiotic cream in dogs. If your dog's skin is itchy, scaling, bad-smelling, and has hair/fur loss, it might be time to consider buying an antibiotic cream like Cephalosporin.

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How to Safely Apply Antibiotic Cream to Dogs 

While applying the antibiotic cream to your dog, it might get agitated or start licking the cream, which could be toxic to it. How do you make sure you safely apply the antibiotic cream?

If your dog gets agitated, it might be because the area you are applying the cream to is stinging or painful. Instead of getting frustrated with your dog, you should have someone gently hold or cuddle them while you use the medication. They can also attempt to distract your dog with treats or attention.

You can also consider buying a soothing pheromone spray that will ease your dog's anxiety while using the topical medication.

If your dog keeps licking the antibiotic cream, you can do several things to prevent that from happening. You can distract your dog by giving them treats while applying the cream.

You can also take the dog for a walk after applying the cream, giving time for the cream to absorb into the skin.

Another solution is getting your dog an Elizabethan (cone) collar, which covers the dog's head and prevents it from reaching and licking the cream-applied area.

The Best Antibiotic Creams for Dogs 

If your dog has an infection, you should choose only the best and most effective topical antibiotics for him. Here are some of the best antibiotic creams on the market:

  • Panalogthis is a strong topical antibiotic that treats different kinds of injuries and ear infections.
  • Neosporin: this antibiotic combines bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B to form a potent antibiotic cream for treating wounds and bacterial infections. 
  •  Mupirocin: a great alternative to Cephalexin, Mucipron is an antibiotic cream that treats secondarily infected wounds.

When choosing the antibiotic cream, you should look for the most effective antibiotic to treat the specific infection. If you are unsure what type of infection it has, visit the vet or a clinic to get an expert's opinion.

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When to Consider Oral Antibiotics for Your Dog

Like humans, dogs may need oral antibiotics from time to time. Also, like humans, they shouldn't be misused and should only be given when recommended and prescribed by a vet. This ensures that antibiotic resistance doesn't develop too quickly, making them less effective against bacteria in the future.

While antibiotic creams can treat skin infections, other bacteria can cause infection in various internal organs and systems. The following conditions might require oral antibiotics:

  • Eye infections
  • Inner ear infections
  • Gastrointestinal infections
  • Respiratory infections
  • Soft tissue infections (for example, following a surgical procedure)

Types of Oral Antibiotics for Dogs

Different types of oral antibiotics are available if antibacterial creams are not an option or are not working well for your dog. These also have side effects but may have a more prolonged, longer-lasting effect of relieving your dog's symptoms. These come in different forms, including:

Tablets, Capsules, or Liquids

Antibiotics usually come as a tablet or capsule or as a liquid. The type of antibiotic used will determine how often you should give it to your dog, though many are prescribed either once or twice daily.

It's usually best to give them to your dog with their meals. This can help to minimize any stomach upset, but it can also be a way to distract your dog, who may be apprehensive about taking them. Alternatively, you may try putting the tablet or capsule inside a treat to hide it from your dog.

When giving your dog a tablet without food, you can place it at the back of their tongue before gently rubbing their throat to help them to swallow.

Injectable or IV Antibiotics

In general, injected or IV antibiotics will usually be administered by a vet. These are typically used during inpatient appointments, such as minor surgeries.

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How to Give Your Dog Oral Antibiotics

Your vet will recommend the best way to give antibiotics to your dog. The instructions will ordinarily be written on the packet too. Antibiotics are prescribed in three ways for dogs, one of which we've already covered above. Aside from creams, tablets or an IV drip or injection may be used.

The Best Oral Antibiotics for Dogs

Sometimes, a topical cream might not be enough to clear up an infection. In these cases, creams might be combined with oral antibiotics to be added to a dog's food. Some of the best oral antibiotics used to treat infections in dogs include:

  • Amoxicillin/Clavulanate: From the penicillin family, this antibiotic can be used for a wide range of bacterial infections in dogs. It helps treat skin, intestinal, and respiratory infections.
  • Gentamicin: Gentamicin tends to be used in dogs with an eye or ear infection. As an anti-inflammatory drug, it can relieve redness, swelling, or irritated skin.
  • Chloramphenicol: This antibiotic is used for internal bacterial infections due to the natural pH levels that allow it to pass safely through your dog's gastrointestinal system.
  • Sulfamethoxazole: This antibiotic treats urinary tract infections, but it can be taxing on your dog's intestines. As a result, side effects might include diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Tetracycline: This versatile antibiotic is helpful in a range of bacterial infections. It's often the second line of defense where other antibiotics have not worked.

Can Antibiotics Cause Side Effects in Dogs?

Unfortunately, antibiotics can cause the same side effects in dogs as in humans. When you start your dog on a course of antibiotics, check for the following symptoms that could occur:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Yeast infections

In some rare and severe cases, antibiotics could trigger an allergic reaction in your dog. This might lead to a red, itchy rash called hives.

If your dog experiences side effects from any antibiotic medications, whether topical or oral, you should immediately discontinue using them and refer back to your veterinarian.

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ESA Dogs: Looking After Each Other

It's essential to immediately address any issues that might arise with your ESA (emotional support animal) dog's health. ESA dogs can only look after you when they're feeling well themselves.

If you need support obtaining an ESA letter for your therapy dog, contact us Pettable

You can obtain a legitimate ESA letter from a trusted therapist, and we'll refund you 100% of your payment if you can't get hold of your letter for any reason. Getting started is simple.

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Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.