Cephalexin For Dogs: Dosage, Usage, Safety, Precautions & Side Effects

Dogs ‘ unwavering curiosity exposes them on a daily basis to different kinds of germs, bacteria, and viruses. If a dog is relatively healthy, you can safely presume that its immune system does a good job of combating microorganisms that cause disease.

Knowing that their fur babies have what it takes to fend off the most prevalent diseases is san enormous relief for dog owners. But the immune system of a dog can not always be invincible. Unfortunately, dogs sometimes encounter a bacterial strain that can get through their defenses.

The good thing is, there is a wide array of antibiotic options in modern medicine that can help bring back a sick dog to great health. Cephalexin (also sometimes spelled as cefalexin) is one of those antibiotics.

What Exactly is Cephalexin?

Cephalexin is a first-generation cephalosporin that is widely recognized through brands such as Keflex, Cefadroxil, Biocef, Rilexine, Keftab, and Sporidex. It serves the same purpose as penicillin and amoxicillin. Your veterinarian usually selects the most suitable antibiotic based on the bacterial strain you are trying to treat.

How Does Cephalexin Work?

Cephalexin is used to wipe out gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in dogs. It works by breaking these bacteria’s cell walls and preventing them from growing it back.

Cephalexin can overcome your dog’s intestinal tract’s rough environment, enabling it to enter the bloodstream and target other affected areas. It can also suppress the development of unwanted protozoa and fungi.

When is Cephalexin Prescribed?

Cephalexin was first made in 1967 as an antibiotic treatment option that can be used by humans and animals (dogs included). It is a part of WHO’s List of Essential Medicines because of its ability to treat various bacterial infections.

Cephalexin can typically be prescribed for infections that affect the ears, skin, bones, lungs, and urinary tract of your dog. Bronchitis and pyoderma are some instances. It is extremely effective in a broad range of instances and is particularly helpful for infection caused by these strains of bacteria:

  • Escherichia coli
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Streptococci and staphylococci strains (e.g. Streptococcus pneumonia, Streptococcus pyogenes, Staphylococcus aureus)
  • Proteus mirabilis
  • Klebsiella pneumonia

While veterinarians are waiting for the test outcomes of a dog’s exam, they turn to cephalexin as an antibiotic treatment choice. Once the veterinarian finds out which bacteria are really the culprit, they can transform your dog’s medication into something more efficient.

This is because cephalexin can’t wipe out all types of harmful bacteria. For instance, it is ineffective against certain strains like Enterobacter, Enterococci, and Pseudomonas.

Cephalexin Availability

Cephalexin is available for purchase only when you have a prescription from your veterinarian. It is usually sold as oral tablets, chewable tablets, or capsules. There is also a liquid or suspension form, and a version that is given as an injection.

Your veterinarian’s choice will depend on your pet’s type of bacterial infection. He or she will also consider whether your pet is taking other medications aside from cephalexin. This is because the different forms come in various milligrams, making them suitable for certain conditions, but not others.

Cephalexin Storage

Capsules and tablets of cephalexin should be stored at room temperature. Make sure it is not susceptible to heat and moisture. On the other hand, liquid suspensions must be refrigerated. Throw away the unneeded suspension after two weeks after the treatment cycle is over.

Precautions When Giving Your Dog Cephalexin

While cephalexin is generally an effective means of managing bacterial infections, some precautions must be noted. The following things should always be kept in mind whenever cephalexin is considered as a treatment option:

  • Some dogs might have allergic reactions to cephalosporin or penicillin.
  • Some conditions could become worse upon administration of cephalexin.
  • Having your dog take cephalexin with other medications may result in dangerous health consequences.
  • Improper administration of cephalexin may cause antibiotic resistance.

This treatment will become ineffective in the future if the bacteria learn to survive cephalexin. This will restrict the selection of feasible alternatives for your veterinarians. It may also kill off good bacteria in your dog’s systems, which may make it difficult for your dog to fend off the attack of bad bacteria.

Additionally, if your veterinarian has decided on cephalexin, it is essential to let him, or her know if your dog is dealing with the following conditions:

  • Stomach, kidney, or intestinal diseases
  • Pregnancy or lactation
  • Diabetes (liquid form has sucrose, which may negatively affect diabetic dogs)

Dose of Cephalexin For Dogs

Your veterinarian will be calculating the right cephalexin dosage for your dog based on its body weight. The dosage, frequency, and duration will also depend on the bacterial strain that is attacking your dog, as well as the area of the body, which is dealing with the infection.

The typical dosage of cephalexin is at 20 to 30 mg per kg of body weight or 10 to 15 mg per lb. of body weight. It’s usually given in tablet form once to thrice per day, or every 8 to 12 hours.

Depending on your dog’s unique circumstances, your veterinarian may have to adjust the prescribed doses. For instance, if your dog is dealing with kidney issues, your veterinarian will most likely reduce the amount you’ll have to give to your dog.

The Importance of Completing the Cephalexin Treatment Cycle

Another significant consideration is that a few bacterial infections will require various courses of treatment to completely eradicate the real culprits from the body of your dog. This usually involves periodic monitoring of bacterial culture, which implies that you need to go back to your veterinarian as scheduled, even if your dog is already looking good.

Following the scheduled visits by the veterinarian, will guarantee that the treatment regimen is working–or not. In either of these cases, further tests will confirm whether the dose of cephalexin has to be adjusted or whether the treatment regimen has to be completely altered. This continuous monitoring guarantees that the body of your dog will not build up any antibiotic resistance.

Ultimately, even when the symptoms of your dog are already clearing up, you have to complete the entire treatment cycle. More often than not, before the antibiotic treatments are finished, your dog will feel better. However, there may still be the unwanted bacteria in their systems, that’s why you need to continue to administer the antibiotics until you are told to stop the prescription.

Cephalexin For Dogs Side Effects

Most dogs can tolerate cephalexin. Some side effects may occur, but they are typically mild in nature and rare in frequency. Of course, observing your dog carefully is still advisable just in case he shows any sign of trouble.

Here are some common cephalexin side effects to watch out for:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Stool with blood or mucous
  • Hyperactivity
  • Heavy breathing
  • Allergic reactions (itching, rashes, fever, hives, swollen tongue or mouth, etc.)

Veterinarians usually recommend owners to take cephalexin after eating or as part of the meal to minimize the possibility of the stomach or intestinal upset. On the other side, even if they take it on an empty stomach, some dogs are going to be fine.

How Safe is Cephalexin for Dogs?

Cephalexin is not exactly approved by the FDA. However, many veterinarians already consider cephalexin as a tried-and-tested treatment regimen for both dogs and cats.

To use cephalexin safely and responsibly, always take note of the following veterinarian-approved instructions:

  • Don’t use cephalexin or any other prescription medication as a treatment regimen for your other dogs, unless your veterinarian gives you the go signal.
  • Never stop giving your dog’s antibiotics prematurely. Doing so can only encourage the bacteria to grow stronger and fight back, which will make it more difficult for your dog.
  • Be observant of your dog’s behavior and take note if he is experiencing any allergic reactions to cephalexin. Don’t ignore the signs, especially if you notice that he is experiencing any breathing difficulties.

Cephalexin Contraindications

Cephalexin should not be administered to pregnant or nursing dogs. It also shouldn’t be given to a dog that has epilepsy or kidney disease. It’s not a good treatment plan for a dog that has had bad allergic reactions to penicillin.

Some large breeds may experience lameness or mobility issues after taking cephalexin. Although it rarely happens, it’s still worth noting as this can explain any possible changes in your dog’s behavior.

Cephalexin for Dogs FAQs

Is it okay to give my dog cephalexin that is made for humans?

Some medications that are made for humans can be given to dogs, but cephalexin isn’t one of them. Naturally, human antibiotics come in human-appropriate doses, which may not be applicable or worse, may be dangerous to dogs. Additionally, human cephalexin may contain ingredients that may be toxic for dogs, such as xylitol.

What is the cost of cephalexin for dogs?

Cephalexin prices will vary according to the brand and the form that you were prescribed. For reference, a bottle of Keflex that contains 30 pieces of 500mg capsules will cost around $19.00.

What if I miss my dog’s dose?

Giving the missed dosage is best, the moment you remember it. Space the remainder of the day’s doses uniformly until you return to the regular timetable of medications. Never offer your dog a double dose unless you are told to do so by your veterinarian.

What if I accidentally overdose my dog?

Cephalexin overdoses usually lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting. If you think you have overdosed your dog, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Is there anything I should avoid while my dog is on cephalexin?

Your dog can go about its normal activities and diet unless your veterinarian advises otherwise. As long as your dog is behaving normally, his antibiotic treatment should be working properly and not causing any further problems.

My dog is showing symptoms that is similar to what he experienced previously. Can I give him cephalexin since it worked before?

Unless you are a veterinarian, prescribing your dog’s medication shouldn’t be your duty just because you believe you understand what is wrong with the dog. Yes, having your dog carefully inspected by the vet may cost you more, but you’re better off being sure in an expert’s hands than making guesses and making mistakes.

You don’t want to make your dog’s condition a lot worse by giving him the wrong medicines. If you love your pet, you would take him to an expert who knows what he or she is doing.

Cephalexin isn’t working. What should I do?

If his symptoms have not improved or deteriorated, take your pet to the veterinarian even before the scheduled return visit. Your dog may be allergic to the medication or have something that cephalexin can not treat. The only way to find out is to get your vet to recheck him.

What are alternatives to cephalexin?

The most common antibiotic alternatives for cephalexin are amoxicillin and penicillin. There are also some instances when antibiotics aren’t even needed –– as advised by your veterinarian, of course.

Sometimes, you will just be instructed to apply a warm compress on the affected area. The goal of this is to increase blood flow, which brings more white blood cells and oxygen to that part.

More white blood cells will speed up the killing of bacteria and help your dog’s systems clear the infection quickly. Special lasers with bacteria-killing properties may also be used.

Conclusion: Cephalexin as Cure for Infections

Cephalexin for canine bacterial infections is one of the most efficient antibiotic treatments. Your dog is bound to return to normal in no time if properly administered. Your dog wouldn’t have to deal with any relapse as long as you follow all instructions to the dot.

Make sure that you consult with your veterinarian to get the proper prescription and other treatment recommendations for your dog. After all, if you want your dog to have a speedy recovery, you can’t miss any important detail in your vet’s treatment plan.

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