Most dogs at some point in their lives will need antibiotic treatment for internal or external diseases and infections. Many owners will try to forego a trip to the veterinarian by trying to fight an infection with over-the-counter (OTC) or non-prescription antibiotics. For anything more than a minor skin, ear, or eye infection, treating with an OTC antibiotic is not recommended.
Very few antibiotics are available without a prescription. There are websites where you can purchase antibiotics without a prescription, but do so at your own (or your dog's) risk. Antibiotics should be given under a veterinarian's supervision for many reasons, including proper dosage and specific safety precautions or contraindications. Also, indiscriminate or improper use of antibiotics can result in drug resistance for certain bacteria.
The Right Antibiotic
Picking the right antibiotic for an infection requires knowledge of the infectious agent. Usually, your veterinarian will culture the infection to determine which antibiotic will be the most effective against it. This reduces trial and error and wasted time trying to find the most effective treatment.
The most common (and acceptable) use of non-prescription antibiotics is for topical application for minor cuts, skin irritations or ear and eye infections. Most human OTC remedies are safe and effective for dogs. Creams such as neomycin, bacitracin, and mycitracin and other triple antibiotic ointment are safe, effective and readily available. Several safe OTC ear and eye ointments are available at pet stores or veterinary supply merchants.
Several non-prescription solutions are available that help to reduce the need for prescription antibiotics. Antibacterial soaps, when used to immediately cleanse a wound, can help prevent further infection. Hydrogen peroxide also helps prevent infection when used to clean a wound.
There are several natural or alternative products that have antibacterial and antibiotic characteristics that may be helpful for your dog. Aloe vera gel has natural disinfection and healing properties. According to many natural and holistic health practitioners, parsley, thyme, sage and oregano have antimicrobial properties and garlic has been used for years as an antibiotic and antifungal agent.