Cephalexin for a Dog's Ear Infection

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There are different types of dog infections. Most infect the outer or middle ear, requiring different types of treatment. And the most common cause is allergies. Ear infections in dogs are a common problem most people with dogs will have to treat, especially if your dog has long floppy ears like a cocker spaniel.

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Canine ear problems can be resolved with the use of cephalexin.
Image Credit: David Baileys/iStock/GettyImages

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Mild infections are usually treated topically, but severe cases require an antibiotic. Cephalexin, for instance, is one of the antibiotics most veterinarians use to treat a dog's severe painful ear infections as well as many other infectious disorders. Prescribing a dog cephalexin is considered safe. However, prevention by cleaning your dog's ears regularly is always best.

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History of dog cephalexin

The brand names for cephalexin are Bio-Cef, Keflex, and Panixine DisperDose in the US and Novo-Lexin in Canada. Cephalexin (sometimes spelled cefalexin) is a part of the cephalosporin class of antibiotics and was first approved for human use in the 1960s. It is now prescribed by veterinarians as an oral drug for use in killing bacteria.

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Cephalexin works by blocking the bacteria from forming a protective cell wall. Without this cell wall, the bacteria are vulnerable and die, preventing the infection from spreading. Cephalexin is used to treat a variety of bacterial, skin, wound, bladder, ear, and bone infections and pneumonia in dogs and cats.

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Cephalexin for ear infections

The most common cause of a bacterial ear infection is allergies, which can cause the outer or middle ear to become inflamed. Note that infections of the inner ear, further inside the ear canal, are extremely rare. Most dogs with ear infections are suffering from outer ear infections.

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When a dog has an ear infection, the temperature and humidity in the ear canal is increased, creating an ideal environment for bacterial growth. A bacterial ear infection can occur simultaneously with fungal or yeast infections, which all have the same predisposing factors and conditions. Your veterinarian might prescribe an antibiotic such as cephalexin to treat these ear infections, in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory and medicated ear cleaner, bringing your dog relief from ear pressure caused by ear infections.

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However, most canine ear infections are treated with topical ear medicated ointments or drops because these topicals usually get the proper concentration of medication to the site of infection. Only severe ulcerated and bleeding ear infections will be treated with oral antibiotics, such as cephalexin, as a first line of treatment. If your dog's ear infection is treated with cephalexin or Keflex, the infection is likely advanced.

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Dosage of dog cephalexin

Cephalexin comes in tablets and capsules in 250 mg and 500 mg and also comes in an oral suspension in strengths of 25mg/ml and 50 mg/ml. This medication should be given per your veterinarian's recommendations.

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The general dosage is 10 to 15 mg per pound of dog weight every eight to 12 hours, depending on the severity of the ear infection being treated. It is important to follow your veterinarian's prescription plan and complete all the medication for your dog. Take all of the medication, even if the ear infection seems to be better. Not doing so may cause a relapse.

Side effects of cephalexin for ear infection

Cephalexin is generally a safe medication though your dog may have sensitivity to the drug. Aside from occasional diarrhea, the most common side effect is nausea and vomiting. These side effects can easily be resolved by administering the medication with food. If your dog develops hyper-excitability or excessive drooling, inform your veterinarian.

If your dog has a known hypersensitivity to cephalexin, advise your veterinarian. There are certain other drugs that do not interact well with this drug. Be sure to inform your veterinarian of all medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, and any supplements your dog is taking. Providing your vet a complete medical history of your dog will help in the diagnosis and treatment of any issue.

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