Amoxicillin is a prescription antibiotic related to penicillin. It is most commonly used to treat and prevent bacterial infections in both humans and animals. Veterinarians do sometimes prescribe amoxicillin for dog ear infections, although topical treatments are usually tried first. Dogs should never be given amoxicillin that was prescribed for a human. The dosages and methodologies are different in the two drugs. Of course, no one should ever take any medication that was prescribed for someone else.
Types of ear infections in dogs
Otitis externa, or infection of the outer ear, is one of the most common infections seen in dogs. That's one reason it's so important to inspect and clean dogs' ears regularly. Dogs with floppy ears seem to have more ear infections, but they do occur in all breeds. Otitis externa affects the area between the visible outer ear and the ear drum. Otitis media and otitis interna are infections of the middle and inner ear, respectively, and can have serious, long-term effects. Otitis externa typically resolves within a few weeks with proper treatment.
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Causes of dog ear infections
The number one cause of ear infections in dogs is underlying allergies, whether the dog is allergic to something in the environment or food. Allergies suppress the immune system, which can allow yeast and bacteria to over grow. Yeast infections are not a cause of bacterial infections, nor vice versa, but both infections can be present at the same time. Allergies make the skin of the ear itchy, so dogs scratch the area, which breaks down the protective barrier. of the skin, leaving it exposed to bacteria.
Other, less common causes of ear infections in dogs include excessive wax buildup, ear mites, tumors, moisture in the canal, lack of proper ear cleaning, and even excessive ear cleaning which breaks down the skin. Many metabolic diseases, such as thyroid disease, can lead to a greater risk of ear infections as well.
Is amoxicillin good for ear infections in dogs?
While amoxicillin can be effective in treating ear infections in dogs, it is not usually the first treatment veterinarians try. Since it is given orally, once it gets into the bloodstream, it is not concentrated enough at the infection site to cure the infection. Instead, vets typically prescribe an ointment that is applied directly to the site of infection in the ear canal. Several different medications are available depending on the type of infection, its severity, and what other underlying issues there may be. If your vet does prescribe amoxicillin, be sure to follow the directions on giving it to your dog.
Some people ask about giving dogs amoxicillin meant for fish tanks, which is available to order online. This is not recommended because first, it is not meant to be swallowed. Second, such over-the-counter preparations are not regulated by the FDA. This means you cannot be confident about the concentrations of its ingredients. And third, pet parents don't really know if their dog has an ear infection, or what type of infection it is, without their dog being evaluated by a vet.
This means you could be treating your dog with an antibiotic unnecessarily. Using antibiotics when you don't need to can potentially lead to antibiotic resistance in the future. Amoxicillin and other medications prescribed for ear infections are typically not expensive, so it is not worth the risk by giving your dog a medication meant for fish.
Side effects of amoxicillin for dogs
Amoxicillin is safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, but it has been known to cause some side effects in animals. The most common is diarrhea or loose stools, caused by the drug altering the bacterial population in your dog's intestinal tract. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog develops chronic diarrhea. Amoxicillin can also interact negatively with certain other medications. Ask your veterinarian if amoxicillin combined with other drugs your dog is taking could cause problems.
Dog ear infection symptoms to watch for
Certainly, a dog that is howling in pain should be seen by a veterinarian promptly. But many dogs demonstrate their discomfort in other ways. This might mean scratching their ears, tilting or shaking their head, a bad smell, discharge or blood coming from their ears, red or inflamed ear or ear canal, or rubbing their ears on the floor or furniture. By examining your dog's ears regularly and noting changes in behavior, you can catch ear infections in the early stages and avoid having them cause long-lasting effects to the ears.
- American Kennel Club: Dog Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Ear Infections in Dogs (Otitis Externa): How Common are Ear Infections in Dogs?
- AP News: Fish Amoxicillin: Not What the Doctor Ordered
- Good Rx: How Can I Tell If My Dog Has an Ear Infection?
- Veterinarians: Amoxicillin For Dogs