Protopic Ointment for Dogs (Tacrolimus Ointment)

Protopic ointment for dogs contains the active ingredient tacrolimus. Tacrolimus is an effective medication used in conjunction with other medicines for individuals that have received a heart, kidney or liver transplant. This ingredient prevents rejection of the organ. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), tacrolimus works by decreasing the activity of the immune system to prevent it from attacking the new organ.

Although no one is quite sure how the active ingredient in protopic ointment works for dogs with skin conditions, this immunosupressant helps reduce itching, redness and inflammation of the skin. The ointment may be prescribed to help ease symptoms associated with a number of autoimmune and immune-mediated skin disorders such as:

  • Bullous pemphigold
  • Discoid lupus erythematosus
  • Erythema multiforme
  • Pemphigus erythematosus
  • Pemphigus foliaceus
  • Pemphigus vegetans
  • Pemphigus vulgaris
  • Nodular panniculitis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis

Other less serious skin conditions that may benefit from the use of protopic ointment include eczema and rashes. Protopic ointment is recommended for short term use only, and in most cases it is used only as a second option after other ointments fail to relieve symptoms. Animal studies suggest that prolonged use of tacrolimus is associated with an increased risk of conditions such as skin malignancies, lymphomas and infections.

Applying Protopic Ointment

Protopic ointment is a topical medication. The usual concentration for dogs is 0.1 percent tacrolimus, although 0.03 percent is available. Tacrolimus is combined with propylene carbonate (a solvent), mineral oil, wax and white petrolatum (petroleum jelly). The ointment should be applied to the affected areas only, so a small 30-gram tube should go a long way. 

Skin ointments and salves are easy to apply. The tricky part is monitoring your dog long enough to give the medication time to do its work. After applying the ointment, your dog may try to lick it off or even scratch the medication off if he can reach it. What you have to do is distract your dog with a treat, playing fetch or by taking a short walk to prevent him from licking the medicine off. It takes around 10 minutes for the medicine to penetrate the skin, so if you can distract him for 10 minutes or so, you're in good shape. If your dog cannot be distracted from licking the medication off his skin, you may have to use an Elizabethan collar. If you are required to apply the ointment several times a day, with the last dose applied at night, an Elizabethan collar may be the best bet, especially if no one is around to watch the dog while the medicine penetrates. It is important to note that an Elizabethan collar must be removed at intervals, under strict supervision, to allow the dog to eat and drink.

Where to Purchase Protopic Ointment

Protopic ointment for dogs can be purchased at your veterinarian's office and online. It is important to note that online sources are not always trustworthy, so it's best to purchase the product from your veterinarian or through a source recommended by your vet.

For more information about ointments for dogs and skin conditions, see: