Cephalexin is an antibiotic that’s available in both capsule and liquid form. It can be used to treat a variety of infections throughout a dog’s body. Cephalexin is a prescription medication that is also sold under the brand name Keflex. The drug hasn’t been FDA approved for dogs but is approved for human treatments.
What is Cephalexin?
Cephalexin can be used to treat a broad spectrum of infections. It is often prescribed to treat skin infections but is also effective at treating bladder, bone and wound infections. Despite not being FDA approved for animals, it is widely accepted that the drug is safe and highly effective at treating bacterial infections.
Cephalexin works by preventing bacteria from growing and reproducing. This gradually eliminates bacteria from the dog’s system.
It’s important to understand that Cephalexin doesn’t kill bacteria – it only disrupts the growth and reproduction process. This is why it’s vital to complete the full course of Cephalexin. A shorter course may allow the remaining bacteria to reproduce. Symptoms are likely to improve before the end of the full course, but this doesn’t mean that it is safe to stop giving your dog the medication.
Dogs that have suffered from seizures or kidney disease in the past may not be suitable for Cephalexin. The drug may also not be safe to give to pregnant dogs or those that have previously had allergic reactions to antibiotics. If your dog has diabetes, you should use the capsule form, as the liquid form may contain sugar.
What is the Typical Dosage of Cephalexin?
The average dose for a dog is around 12.5mg per pound. The dose varies depending on the severity of the infection. You may need to give your dog Cephalexin two or three times per day. If possible, try to give the medication at the same time each day, as this can increase its effectiveness.
Missing a dose is unlikely to harm your dog, but can make Cephalexin less effective. If you miss a dose, try to give it as soon as you remember – but never give your dog a double dose.
How to Get Your Dog to Take Cephalexin
If you have been provided with Cephalexin in capsule form, it is best to try and give your dog the whole capsule (as long as this is the correct dose). Cephalexin is bitter and your dog is unlikely to eat it if the capsule is opened and sprinkled on food.
The easiest way to get your dog to take a Cephalexin capsule is to cover it with peanut butter. For larger dogs, you may be able to wrap the capsule in a treat.
Some dogs are particularly sensitive or wary of medication. If your dog always seems to find the capsule in treats or food, you may need to force him to eat it by putting it at the back of his mouth. This can be made a more pleasant experience for the dog by using peanut butter or another of his favorite treats.
If your dog is prescribed the liquid form of Cephalexin, you can try mixing it with soft food. In most cases, your dog won’t be able to taste the drug and will happily eat it.
Should You Talk To Your Vet About Cephalexin?
If your dog is suffering from a bacterial infection, Cephalexin is a drug that your vet will consider prescribing. You should talk to your vet about Cephalexin if you believe it could help your dog, or if you are concerned about the potential side effects. Like all antibiotics, Cephalexin is not effective at treating viral infections.
You should also talk to your vet if your dog has had allergic reactions to antibiotics in the past. This is especially important if your dog has had a reaction to penicillin. While this may not rule out Cephalexin as an option for treatment, it’s important that your vet is aware of previous allergic reactions.
Side Effects of Cephalexin
Cephalexin is usually a safe drug and rarely causes serious side effects. The chances of side effects increase with the length of time a dog is prescribed the drug.
If your dog suffers from any of the following side effects or has an allergic reaction, you should contact your vet immediately.
Vomiting. Vomiting is the most common side effect of Cephalexin and usually happens soon after taking the drug. This can sometimes be prevented by giving Cephalexin with food.
Diarrhea. Diarrhea is less likely when taking Cephalexin than other antibiotics. If a dog gets diarrhea after taking Cephalexin, it can potentially lead to dehydration.
Excitable behavior. Some dogs become hyperactive after taking Cephalexin. This is a rare side effect but should be discussed with your vet if it occurs.
While the side effects of Cephalexin are often mild, the consequences of an allergic reaction can be much more severe. If you notice that your dog is struggling to breathe, has a swollen face or there is blood in his stool, you should stop giving Cephalexin and contact your vet straight away.
Common Questions About Cephalexin
Can Cephalexin be given with food?
It is safe to give Cephalexin with food, but this isn’t required. If your dog regularly vomits after taking Cephalexin, giving the drug with food may prevent this.
How should Cephalexin be stored?
Cephalexin capsules should always be stored at room temperature. The medication should be kept out of direct sunlight or moist areas. If you have the liquid form of Cephalexin, this should be kept in a refrigerator.
Can puppies be given Cephalexin?
The safety of Cephalexin depends on the age and size of the puppy. You should always talk to your vet before giving your puppy Cephalexin.
How long does it take for Cephalexin to start curing an infection?
Cephalexin can produce a noticeable improvement in less than three days, although this depends on the severity of the infection. You should contact your vet if you don’t notice an improvement in symptoms after four or five days.