This is not medical advice. Before pursuing feeding your dog a new food, supplement, or medication it’s advised to consult with your veterinarian.

There is little that is more troublesome and stressful than when your precious pup is sick. When your dog is sick, all you want to do is help them heal and feel better. If your dog has a bacterial infection, like the common cold, an ear infection, or a urinary tract infection, then your vet may prescribe antibiotics to kill off the infection. 

It’s important to go to the vet to get a proper diagnosis before treating your dog with antibiotics. If the infection isn’t bacterial and is instead from a virus, then the antibiotics will be ineffective, and could potentially contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In some cases, there can be a viral and bacterial infection. According to veterinarian Michelle Burch, it’s a good idea to have a culture done, to identify the specific type of bacteria causing problems. Once you’re at the vet, if they don’t offer to do this, you can ask for a culture to be performed. Once a culture is done, your vet will be able to identify the type of bacteria at play and the most effective antibiotic for your dog. 

Can You Give Your Dog Human Antibiotics?

If you’re wondering why you need to go to the vet when you have leftover antibiotics from your last cold laying around, it’s important to note that human antibiotics aren’t made for dogs. Not only do antibiotics work differently in dogs than they do in humans, but more importantly, their side effects can greatly differ as well. Even if your human antibiotic has the same name as one for dogs, the formulation may be different and could be toxic to your dog. To safely administer any drug to your dog, including antibiotics, you need veterinary care and instruction.

Common Antibiotics Given to Dogs

If some of these names look familiar, there is some overlap on antibiotic use with dogs and humans. Just remember that these medicines will need to be formulated differently for dogs than for humans. Never give your dog any medicine without the oversight of your veterinarian. Human medicines might not work on your dog, and at worst, could hurt them. 

1. Amoxil (amoxicillin)

Amoxicillin is an aminopenicillin antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections. It is most commonly used for infections of the skin, respiratory system, and urinary tract. This medication is off-label, which means that the instructions on the bottle will be different than what your vet tells you to do. 

2. Clavamox (amoxicillin-clavulanic acid)

Clavamox is a broad-spectrum antibiotic and is a type of penicillin. This drug is the veterinary equivalent of Augmentin, which is an antibiotic for humans. Clavamox was designed specifically for veterinary usage and is primarily used to treat skin infections, infections of the soft tissues like wounds or abscesses, and periodontal disease. 

3. Flagyl (metronidazole)

Flagyl, or metronidazole, is a strong antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections and some parasites. Flagyl is most often used to treat diarrhea or general inflammation of the large intestine. Not only is this medicine safe for dogs, cats, and horses, but it’s also used to treat humans. This medicine is taken orally or used as topical on the skin. 

4. Cleocin (clindamycin)

Clindamycin is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections in both dogs and cats. Vets will often prescribe this medicine to treat wounds, bone, and dental infections, and toxoplasmosis. If you’re giving this drug to your dog in pill form, always give it with a wet treat or some liquid. It can hurt your dog’s esophagus if it gets stuck in there. 

5. Baytril (enrofloxacin)

Enrofloxacin is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic that’s an off-label prescription, which means that the instructions your vet gives you will be different from what’s on the bottle’s label. This medication comes as a tablet and works best when given on an empty stomach. In addition to dogs, enrofloxacin is also used with small mammals, birds, and reptiles. 

6. Garamycin (gentamicin)

Gentamicin is a type of aminoglycoside antibiotic. This medicine is commonly used to treat infections of the eyes and ears in dogs as well as humans and small animals. Garamycin helps prevent infections from wounds, and can also be used on sinus infections, bladder infections, and infections in the bloodstream. 

7. Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim)

Bactrim is an antibiotic and antimicrobial that vets use to treat specific kinds of infections like bladder or prostate infections, or parasitic infections. Not only is this drug used on dogs, but vets can also use it on cats, birds, reptiles, and small mammals. Be sure to follow your vet’s instructions carefully, since they will be different than the label on the bottle. Make sure your dog has plenty of water when giving them this medication. 

8. Vibramycin (doxycycline)

Doxycycline has a broad range of uses in veterinary medicine and is used to treat anaplasma, which is a disease from ticks, heartworm disease, and periodontal, or tooth and gum, disease. This medicine comes in tablets, capsules, and liquid form. Give your dog lots of water after administering this medication. 

9. Keflex (cephalexin)

Cephalexin is used to treat skin and urinary tract infections. This medicine comes in capsules, liquid, and a chewable tablet. This medicine can be given with or without food, but if your dog vomits after taking this medicine, try giving it with a small amount of food. 

Support Your Dog’s Gut Health During and After Antibiotics with Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria, similar or identical to the beneficial flora your dog has living in its gut. These beneficial buggies help with digestion and support immune health by blocking bad bacteria with their simple presence. Antibiotics are life-saving, necessary medications, but they don’t distinguish between harmful bacteria causing infections and positive, healthful gut flora. To support your dog’s overall health, vets recommend combining probiotics with antibiotic treatment. Be sure to give the two separately, by at least two to three hours, so that the antibiotics don’t kill off the probiotics. After your dog’s antibiotic treatment is over, continue with the probiotics. You can also consider prebiotics, which are substances that feed and support probiotics. You can often find a product combining the two, or buy them each separately. Make sure you are using products designed for dogs since dog gut flora is different from human gut flora. Prebiotic foods for dogs include mushrooms like maitake and reishi. Chicory root is another dog-friendly prebiotic food. For probiotics, yogurt can be a special treat for your dog after a round of antibiotics, since yogurt contains probiotics. There are a few things to consider before giving your dog yogurt, and one is the type of yogurt. Make sure it is plain yogurt, since sweeteners aren’t good for dogs in general, and in some cases, like with Xylitol, can be deadly. Another issue is that your dog might not digest yogurt well, since they stopped making the enzyme that digests milk after they grew out of puppyhood. Also, yogurt is high in fat, which can be bad for your dog’s health long term. But if you want to give your dog probiotic-rich food during or after a round of antibiotics, pick up a tub or two of plain, Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is higher in probiotics than regular yogurt. Your dog will likely enjoy their creamy treat.