Canine Antibiotics for Skin Infections in Dogs

Canine antibiotics are an effective treatment for skin infections in dogs. While the majority of skin infections in dogs is caused by staphylococci bacteria, other bacteria can also cause infection and lesions on your dog’s skin. Proper diagnosis and treatment are required to rid your dog of the offending bacteria and help heal the affected sores.

Antibiotics for Skin Infections

It is important for your veterinarian to identify the bacteria causing the infection prior to prescribing the antibiotic for your dog. There are a wide variety of antibiotics, each affecting specific strains of bacteria and acting in a variety of ways. Unless the appropriate antibiotic is selected, it will have little or no effect on the infection and could potentially allow it to get worse.

The following list of antibiotics are commonly used in the treatment of skin infections, based upon several factors including good skin penetration, bacterial activity in pus and tissues, effectiveness against the particular bacteria and the severity of the infection.

  • Macrolides are a narrow spectrum antibiotic and are most effective against gram positive bacteria. This class of antibiotics includes erythromycin, lincomycin, clindamycin and tylosin. Dosing is dependent upon the specific medication used.
  • Penicillins M are also a narrow spectrum antibiotic, effective against gram positive bacteria. The canine antibiotic included in this group is oxacillin.
  • Penicillins A are a broader spectrum antibiotic than the Penicillin M class. The canine antibiotic included in this group is amoxicillin-clavulanic acid.
  • Cephalosporins are a broad spectrum antibiotic, making them effective against a broad range of bacteria. Cephalexin and cephadroxil are the two canine antibiotics included in this class of drugs.
  • Cephalosporins P are a narrow spectrum antibiotic that has a gram positive synergy with penicillin and erythromycin. Fusidic acid is the only canine antibiotic included in this group.
  • Sulfonamides-Diaminopyrimidines are also broad spectrum antibiotics that are effective against a wide range of bacteria. Included in this class of drugs are trimethoprim-sulfate, baquiloprim-sulfadimethoxine and ormetoprim-sulfadimethoxine .
  • Fluoroquinolones are broad spectrum antibiotics with excellent tissue penetration. Enrofloxacin, marbofloxacin, difloxacin and orbifloxacin are all included in this class of drugs.

There are a variety of other antibiotics available, injectables as well as oral medications, but due to effectiveness or absorption issues and toxicity in dogs, they are not recommended for use in canines.

Guidelines for Antibiotic Use

There are four guidelines or rules the dog owner must follow when using antibiotics to treat infections.

  1. Use the proper antibiotic. While typically your veterinarian prescribes the antibiotic used, some dog owners try to treat their dog with antibiotics leftover from their last bacterial infection.
  2. The proper dose must be given. Read the instructions on the medicine bottle and follow them carefully.
  3. Timing is critical to antibiotic use. Giving your dog his medication at the appropriate time is important to maintaining the levels of antibiotic in his system. If dosing is haphazard, the antibiotics may not be as effective is given at regular times.
  4. Use the full prescription. Just because your dog’s lesions may be healing, use the prescribed antibiotic until it is gone. This will ensure the infection is completely cleared up.