Doxycycline Medication for Dogs

By Ellie Williams

Doxycycline is the generic name for a broad-spectrum antibiotic prescribed to both humans and animals. A member of the tetracycline family, it’s sold under multiple brand names, including Doxirobe and Vibramycin. Doxycycline is widely prescribed, and is the medication of choice for several chronic and acute conditions. Side effects are usually mild, but this medication has several drug interactions so it’s important to discuss dosage with your veterinarian.

Common Uses

Veterinarians routinely prescribe doxycycline for bacterial infections such as leptospirosis, mycoplasma, psittacosis and toxoplasmosis and for tick-borne diseases such as ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. A gel formula is sometimes used for dogs after dental work to guard against the spread of bacteria that can contribute to periodontal disease. It’s also used in low doses for its anti-inflammatory properties to ease the symptoms of arthritis and degenerative joint disease.

How It Works

Doxycycline is referred to as a broad-spectrum antibiotic because it’s effective against a wide variety of bacteria and bacterial infections. It inhibits the bacteria’s production of proteins, hindering the progression of the infection. It’s favored by many veterinarians because it’s highly soluble and can penetrate areas other medications don’t. This includes the eyes, the central nervous system and the synovial fluid found in joints. It’s also a good choice for dogs with kidney troubles because it’s eliminated primarily through the gastrointestinal tract, reducing the strain on the kidneys.

Potential Adverse Effects

Doxycycline most commonly causes gastrointestinal upsets such as nausea and vomiting. Giving the medication with food may decrease the risk of these side effects. There’s also a chance that tablet or pill forms can damage the esophagus, so make sure your dog drinks water after taking the medication. Antacids, multivitamins and laxatives can interfere with doxycycline’s effectiveness and should be given two hours away from the medication. Doxycycline typically is not given with other antibiotics used to treat bacteria, including penicillin, cephalosporin and aminoglycosides.

How to Administer

Doxycycline should not be given within one to two hours of anything containing zinc, magnesium, aluminum or calcium. In addition, it should be administered either three hours before or two hours after anything containing iron. Don’t brush your dog’s teeth for two weeks after application of the oral gel. Doxycycline is available in pill and liquid form, with some pharmacies offering compounded forms including topical. The oral gel formulation should be refrigerated both before and after it’s reconstituted and must be used within three days.