Metronidazole for Dogs

Metronidazole is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections in both dogs and cats. It is not FDA approved for use on animals, but is widely considered safe by vets.

Unlike many other antibiotics, it also has anti-inflammatory properties when used to treat certain bowel conditions.

What is Metronidazole?

Metronidazole (common names: Flagyl, Metizol, Protostat, Metrogel) is used by veterinarians to treat a variety of conditions. It is often prescribed to treat inflammation in the large intestine, but can also treat parasitic and bacterial infections.

Metronidazole is particularly effective at treating tooth infections.

This medication differs from other antibiotics as it can kill anaerobic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria can survive in parts of the body that don’t have any oxygen. It can also treat infections inside bones, which is why it’s often used to kill dental bacteria.

This makes it useful if a dog is infected with multiple types of bacteria. It can also treat bacterial infections in the central nervous system – which many other drugs aren’t capable of doing. The wide range of potential applications makes it an important drug for vets.

Metronidazole should not be given to dogs that are pregnant or lactating. It can be especially damaging to unborn puppies during the first trimester. The drug may also not be safe for young puppies or dogs with kidney disease.

Drug Interactions

There are certain drugs that may not be safe to take with Metronidazole. In particular, it may not be suitable for dogs taking warfarin, phenytoin or cimetidine, amongst others.

Always talk to your vet first.

What is the Typical Dosage of Metronidazole?

Since it is used to treat a number of conditions, there is no standard dose. The amount prescribed depends on the size of the dog and the condition being treated.

The average dosage usually varies between 3mg-23mg per pound. It may even need to be taken up to four times per day.

If you miss a dose, there is no need to panic. Simply give your dog the dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed.

You should never give your dog a double dose.

How to Get Your Dog to Take Metronidazole

It is known to have a bitter taste. If your dog is fussy about what he eats, he may refuse to take Metronidazole after trying it for the first time.

Get some Pill Pockets

These are specially designed treats with a whole to stuff the pill into.

They come in different shapes for different shaped holes… but there’s no fooling some dogs.

Side Effects of Metronidazole

It  can cause a number of side effects. While the side effects are rare, it’s important to be aware of potential problems.

Side effects are more common if the dog is required to take the medication for long periods.

If your dog shows any of the symptoms listed below, you should stop giving the medication and contact your vet immediately:

  • Neurological symptoms.
    Some dogs suffer from neurological symptoms when taking Metronidazole. These can include a loss of balance, strange eye movements and head tilting. If these symptoms occur, treatment should be discontinued.
  • It can take up to two weeks for symptoms of neurological toxicity to disappear after a dog stops taking Metronidazole.
  • Diarrhea
    Many antibiotics can potentially cause diarrhea.. In some cases bloody or watery stool may be produced.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Appetite change
    Can cause a loss of appetite which should be carefully monitored.

Other potential side effects include liver problems, dark urine and drowsiness.

Some dogs are also allergic. This can cause hives, difficulty breathing and swollen lips. If your dog suffers from an allergic reaction, you should discontinue use immediately and contact your vet.

Symptoms of overdose are similar to the side effects listed above. An overdose can cause dizziness, vomiting and even seizures. If you think your dog may have had an overdose, seek emergency veterinary care.

Common Questions

How long does Metronidazole take to have an effect?

How long it takes to have effect depends on the condition. More severe infections often require a longer course of treatment.

Can I use anti-diarrhea medication?

Diarrhea is a relatively common side effect of Metronidazole. You should contact your vet immediately – do not try to treat diarrhea using other medication.