Cephalexin is the generic name for the brand-name drug Keflex. It’s an antibiotic in the cephalosporin group that’s used to treat a wide range of bacterial infections. These infections usually include the common strains of Pseudomonas, Streptococcus, and Proteus species. This medication is usually given orally, either in a capsule or liquid form. Cephalosporins like cephalexin differ from the more popular penicillins in their chemical makeup and how they target specific bacteria.
While we mainly hear about cephalexin usage in patients who have drug-resistant bacterial infections, it is also used in dogs for various conditions. Since it is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, it can treat bacterial infections that affect the skin, respiratory tract (such as pneumonia), urinary tract, bones, and joints in dogs. It’s not used for parasitic infections like worms, though.
Cephalexin dosage for dogs
Cephalexin dosage for dogs depends on the size of the dog, the age, and the severity of their condition. The capsules are usually provided in 250 mg and 500 mg, but can be given with similar dosage as a liquid suspension. The most commonly used cephalexin dosage for dogs is 10-15 mg/pound, given every 8 to 12 hours. It’s recommended to give the medication with food to avoid stomach upset, but it can be given on an empty stomach as well if the dog does not suffer from that particular side effect. As with humans, when prescribed an antibiotic, it is important for the dog to take the entire dosage (all capsules/liquid as prescribed) even if the infection seems to be better before the end of the cycle.
Cephalexin side effects in dogs
Unfortunately, all medications come with side effects and risks. It will be important to pay close attention to the dog after they take the antibiotic to look for side effects and possible allergic reactions. They can’t tell you what’s wrong, so be sure to discuss what to look for with your veterinarian. Cephalexin side effects in dogs include:
- An allergic reaction similar to that found in humans including hives, shortness of breath, swelling in the facial area (especially lips and tongue), fainting, and rash.
- Nausea and vomiting. This may possibly be remedied by giving the medication with food. Use good judgment. If the nausea and vomiting is severe and painful for the dog, seek immediate attention.
- Blood or mucus in the stool
- Excessive bleeding or bruising
- Yeast infection.
If symptoms are very mild, you can continue to provide the medication, but contact your veterinarian for further instructions. Since cephalexin is not FDA approved in dogs, they may want to try another antibiotic. Additionally, if your dog is on any other supplements or medications, be sure to give that list to the veterinarian before starting cephalexin, as this drug may negatively interact with others.