Polysporin is the brand name of a double antibiotic ointment or liquid intended for treatment of eye or ear infections in humans. It may be tempting to administer over-the-counter antibiotic medications for infections in dogs, but it is generally not advised by veterinary health experts.
Polysporin antibiotic eye/ear drops are manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. Polysporin is a sterile combination of two antibiotics: bacitracin zinc and polymixin B sulfate. It is used in the treatment of external infections of the eyes or ears. Polysporin, available in 10-milliliter bottles, is available over-the-counter in Canada, but requires a prescription in the United States. It is less widely prescribed in the United States than the triple antibiotic ointment Neosporin, which has one ingredient Polysporin lacks: neomycin sulfate.
Polysporin is available under various brand names, including Duospore. The generic name is bacitracin or polymyxin.
Polysporin is intended for use in humans to treat ear or eye infections. It may be used in dogs, although it is most likely not the best choice for treatment of dog ear infections. Polysporin topical cream is used to treat skin infections in cuts and wounds. Polysporin eye and ear drops are prescribed to treat and prevent external infections. Polysporin works by killing infection-causing bacteria.
Some breeders report using Polysporin to treat ear infections in dogs with success and at a lower cost than a veterinarian visit and other prescription medication. Polysporin is applied as drops to the affected ear, following dosing instructions on the product. Neosporin, which is more widely available in the United States than Polysporin, is poisonous to dogs if ingested.
Ear infections in dogs can be serious. If you treat an ear infection with any over-the-counter medication, and it does not resolve within a few days, consult a veterinarian. The vet should order a culture on the infected ear and recommend the appropriate prescription-strength antibiotic. Treating any infection with the incorrect antibiotic can cause it to become worse, resistant to treatment or result in permanent tissue damage.
Polysporin should not be used if there is broken skin, irritation or an ulceration in a dog's ear. If there is any sign of allergic reaction or swelling, call your vet immediately. Polysporin isn't effective as a treatment for ear mites, yeast infections or other common causes of ear infections in dogs. It is advisable to have a dog's ear discomfort or infection assessed and treated by a veterinarian.