Side Effects of Clindamycin for Dogs

By Maura Wolf

Clindamycin for dogs is available in capsules or oral suspension liquid form. It is an antibacterial agent that slows growth of bacterial proteins and, according to Vet Info, "gives the body's white blood cells a chance to kill the infection." Used to treat periodontitis, gingivitis, osteomyelitis, dermatitis, bite wounds, abscesses, post-surgery and respiratory infections, pneumonia and soft tissue infections, Clindamycin, when prescribed by your veterinarian, is usually a safe and effective medication, but can cause side effects in some dogs.

Gastrointestinal Side Effects

Dogs absorb oral clindamycin more quickly if it is given on an empty stomach; however, clindamycin’s most common and unpleasant side effects are gastrointestinal, including stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody or watery. If your dog develops these symptoms, contact your veterinarian. He may recommend that you stop giving your dog this drug.

Anorexia Side Effects

Clindamycin causes some dogs to experience decreased appetite and weight loss.

Side Effects Related to Other Illnesses

Tell your veterinarian if your pet has any history of kidney or liver disease, colitis, asthma, eczema or allergies causing skin reactions. Clindamycin should be used with caution in atopic dogs, which are dogs with allergies that cause skin problems.

Liver enzymes may become elevated with clindamycin use, so this antibiotic is contraindicated for dogs with kidney and liver problems. A different drug would be a better choice, but if this is not possible, your vet will probably insist on monitoring blood levels of clindamycin to be sure the dog does not overdose. Clindamycin manufacturers recommend blood tests of liver and kidney function for all dogs using clindamycin longer than a month.

Allergic Side Effects

Clindamycin should not be used in animals that have shown sensitivities to or are allergic to the drug. Doctors Foster and Smith recommend that you call your veterinarian if the dog does not improve or worsens after receiving treatment for a couple of days. Stop giving clindamycin and seek emergency veterinary medical help if your dog exhibits symptoms of serious allergic reaction to clindamycin, such as facial or mouth swelling, hives, scratching, difficulty breathing or a sudden occurrence of diarrhea, vomiting, shock, seizures, pale gums, cold extremeties or coma.

Side Effects Related to Pregnancy and Nursing

Clindamycin may be transferred to puppies through their mother's milk.

Labrador retriever litter image by crazy.nataly from

Clindamycin may cross the placenta if given to pregnant dogs. The drug can also be transferred in the milk of lactating mother dogs and may cause diarrhea leading to dehydration in nursing puppies.

Drug Interaction Side Effects

Do not use certain pet medications in conjunction with clindamycin. Veterinarian Wendy C. Brooks, educational director of VeterinaryPartner, explains that “erythromycin, another antibiotic, and clindamycin will be less effective in combination than when used separately.” Clindamycin is also contraindicated with aminophylline, ranitidine HCl, ceftriaxone sodium, chloramphenicol and opiates.

Other Serious Side Effects

Stop giving your dog clindamycin and contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog experiences side effects such as fever, chills, achiness, jaundice, dark urine or reduction of urination.

Minor Side Effects

Oral clindamycin in liquid form is bitter, and some dogs will salivate excessively and refuse to take it. Even though clindamycin liquid does not require refrigeration, Dr. Brooks recommends refrigeration to improve the taste. Make sure your dog has plenty of water to drink when taking clindamycin.

Overdose Side Effects

Symptoms of a clindamycin overdose include vomiting, appetite loss, weight loss, depression, behavior changes or seizures. If your dog shows signs of an overdose, immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital.