Yes, dogs can take Doxycycline. The antibiotic is often prescribed by vets to fight against a variety of bacterial infections. It can also be given to clear parasites like heartworm early on. It’s a relatively safe drug with minimal to no side effects.
All dogs get sick at some point in their lives and have to take antibiotics to heal either an existing infection or to prevent one from developing. Luckily, there are tons of antibiotics readily available today- Doxycycline is a common one of them.
But can dogs take Doxycycline? What are its uses? How safe is the drug? And what’s the best way to administer it? These are some of the questions we’ll be answering in-depth in this article. So let’s jump in!
What Is Doxycycline?
Doxycycline is an antibiotic from the tetracycline family of drugs. It’s a broad-spectrum antibiotic, meaning it can be used to treat a variety of bacterial infections. It also shows anti-inflammatory properties in some cases.
Although they’re chiefly used against bacteria, tetracycline drugs can kill parasites like heartworm in early-stage infections.
Doxycycline is obtained from both synthetic and natural sources. It works by stopping the synthesis of proteins that bacteria need to increase in number, along with creating changes in the body’s plasma membrane permeability, making it harder for bacteria to infiltrate.
When bacteria aren’t able to produce bacterial protein, they can’t function and infect healthy tissues.
As such, Doxycycline is a bacteriostatic drug- it stops further infection and prevents the growth of bacteria like E.coli (but doesn’t kill them). The body’s immune system fights the bacteria that are unable to reproduce and clear the infection.
The range of infections Doxycycline treats is quite extensive. It’s commonly prescribed by dermatologists for skin infections and acne. It’s also effective in treating UTIs, respiratory infections, STDs like syphilis and gonorrhea, gum disease, and eye infections.
Doxycycline can also be administered in malaria. Some forms of this drug are given in infections caused by lice, mites, or ticks.
Antibiotics are one of the most commonly prescribed drugs in medical history, and doxycycline has a very long history in human medicine. It’s a member of the tetracycline family that has a host of benefits for both humans and animals. While it should be prescribed with caution, it is very effective in dogs when treating some very serious bacterial diseases.
Can Dogs Take Doxycycline?
So now that you’ve learned what the medication is used for, can dogs take Doxycycline? The answer is yes- Doxycycline is safe for dogs and is often prescribed by vets.
You can give your dog a normal dose of Doxycycline without a vet visit, but getting a proper checkup done is recommended, especially if your dog is very sick or is taking other medication/supplements.
If a vet has suggested Doxycycline, be sure to inform them about any other drugs your dog is taking or if he/she has any allergies. It’s important to follow the vet’s guidelines about giving this drug with care.
What Are the Uses of Doxycycline for Dogs?
Doxycycline is prescribed for bacterial and protozoan or parasitic infections. It does not treat fungal or viral infections. However, viral infections leave dogs vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections and complications, so Doxycycline can be given as a precautionary measure.
Conditions vets treat in dogs with Doxycycline include infected wounds, respiratory tract and throat infections, urinary tract infections, and blood-borne illnesses (sepsis and septic fever). E.coli infections, chlamydia, and leptospirosis are also treated with this medication.
Doxycycline can be given to kill parasitic worms in conditions such as filariasis, dirofilariasis (heartworm), microfilaremia, hookworm, etc.
Other than those, diseases caused by ticks and lice like Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis can also be cured by Doxycycline. However, this drug is given in combination with others if the disease is more potent.
Because Doxycycline has a broad range of use and can effectively treat multiple types of bacterial and parasitic infections, we haven’t mentioned every condition the medication cures (or helps other drugs to cure). It’s completely fine if your vet has prescribed Doxycycline for any disease we haven’t mentioned.
Doxycycline is available either in the form of a tablet or capsule, or a syrup. But can dogs take Doxycycline in any form? Yes!
However, if you’re administering the drug in liquid form, be sure to measure each spoonful carefully. If you’re giving your dog a pill, try to do so on an empty stomach- either an hour before a meal or at least two hours after the last meal for greater efficacy. Always give the tablet with a few mLs of water.
Additionally, if your dog gets an upset stomach after taking any medicine, you can try giving the pill with food as it reduces the odds of gastrointestinal distress and other side effects.
Never give Doxycycline or any tetracycline antibiotic with calcium or iron-rich foods like milk, cheese, kelp, egg, organ meats, etc. Both calcium and iron block the pill’s effectiveness.
Doxycycline starts taking effect around 1-2 hours after it is administered, so be on the lookout for any side effects in this period after the first dose is given. Visible effects of Doxycycline and improvement in health take a few days though.
Before we discuss the common dosage of Doxycycline for dogs, it’s important to mention that our guidelines are for typical usage of this drug. These do not replace your vet’s advice regarding the correct dosage for your pet.
Doxycycline is usually given either once or twice a day. The common dosage for this drug is 2 to 5 mg per pound or 5 to 8 mg per kilogram of body weight. So for example, a 50-pound dog can take 120 mg Doxycycline tabs. In chronic infections, it’s better to give two lower-strength pills than one 250 or 300 mg pill. The dosage varies with each dog’s individual needs.
Because Doxycycline is an antibiotic drug, it’s given as a long-term treatment plan. You must continue feeding your dog Doxycycline as long as your vet has advised, or until the course of the antibiotic is complete, even if symptoms improve or the infection clears completely.
Leaving antibiotics or switching over to another pill can create antibiotic resistance in your dog, which puts him at risk later in life.
Doxycycline is best given a couple of hours after the last meal. An empty stomach improves the effectiveness of this drug. However, if your dog vomits or feels nauseous after taking medicine, you can give tetracycline with food.
In addition to this, make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh water at all times when on antibiotics.
As for timing, it’s best to stick to a schedule and give Doxycycline at the same time daily. Giving the drug 2-3 hours after breakfast is a good option.
Forgot to give your dog their pill? No need to worry. You can give your dog the appropriate dose of Doxycycline whenever you remember to. However, if it’s just a few hours until the next dose, skip the dose forgot to give, and follow your regular schedule.
It’s crucial to never give your pet a double dose at once or two doses with little time apart. Overexposure to any antibiotic can be harmful, and you should only give doses according to the dog’s body weight and the severity of the infection.
Doxycycline is stored at room temperature. Keep it away from sunlight and store it in a cool, dry place like a cupboard. There’s no need to refrigerate the medicine.
Other than that, avoid putting the medicine in your bathroom. Always check the packaging of the tablets or capsules to see whether or not they’re outdated. Do not give expired medicine to a dog.
Are There Any Risk Factors For This Medication?
Doxycycline is a relatively safe drug with uncommon minimal side effects like nausea. If an appropriate dose is registered, visible side effects are rare. However, knowing these side effects along with symptoms of Doxycycline allergy is important so you can take action quickly and stop giving this drug.
Side note- it’s also a good idea to monitor your dog for these side effects after giving the first dose for a few hours.
As mentioned before, Doxycycline is quite safe and tolerated by most adult dogs. While all side effects are somewhat rare, some effects are comparatively more common than others. These include nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, throat irritation, and difficulty swallowing.
A good way to reduce nausea and vomiting is by giving the medication with some food. Throat irritation and trouble swallowing can be dealt with by following the regular dose with some water.
More serious albeit quite rare side effects include severe indigestion, little to no urination, diarrhea with bloody stool, chest pain, irregular heart rhythm, and trouble breathing.
If any of these problems arise, or stomach pain or vomiting gets worse, then you need to contact your vet immediately. Severe gastrointestinal problems are a major sign of antibiotic overdose, and your dog may be on a higher prescription strength than needed.
Doxycycline can also interact poorly with some drugs, which we’ve mentioned later on in the article. Make sure your vet is aware of these before they write up a prescription for Doxycycline.
Now, can dogs take Doxycycline while pregnant? Well, Doxycycline is discouraged because some cases of limb deformities in puppies have been traced back to Doxycycline usage by pregnant mothers.
However, your vet may choose to give your pregnant dog this drug if the benefits outweigh the risks, for example, if the bacterial or parasitic infection is serious and needs to be dealt with quickly.
And as with nearly all other medications, there’s a small chance that your dog may be hypersensitive (aka allergic) to Doxycycline. This can lead to anaphylactic shock in severe cases, so if you see any signs of Doxycycline allergy, you must contact your vet immediately.
Dogs with allergies to Minocycline and Demeclocycline are often also allergic to Doxycycline. Be sure to mention this to your vet before they write a prescription.
Note allergies to any other medication as well. Doxycycline also contains sulfites, and sulfite allergy can cause a reaction. Sometimes suspensions, extended-release tablets, and capsules contain additional ingredients that your dog may be allergic to as well.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction include intense scratching, warmth, and red rash anywhere on the body, hives, watery or swelling eyes, runny nose, sneezing, shaking the head, biting fur, and licking aggressively, and anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is characterized by cold feet, dizziness, muscular weakness, weak heartbeat, hyperventilation, and difficulty breathing or respiratory failure.
Because allergic reactions to drugs aren’t as spontaneous as a reaction to things like a bee sting, these symptoms start mild but worsen by the minute. Be on the lookout for these symptoms and immediately take your dog to the vet if you see any.
Your vet may give your dog fluids and keep it on antihistamines and corticosteroids. On the odd chance that your pup has a long list of allergies and their condition deteriorates quickly, you can give a dose of dog EpiPen before taking your pup to the vet. You can get EpiPen designed for dogs from your vet.
Doxycycline can interact with other drugs and produce a reaction. They may enhance the action of doxycycline, hinder it, lose effectiveness themselves, or cause a harmful reaction. We’ve mentioned a list of those medicines below:
- Blood thinners or anticoagulants like warfarin.
- Skin disease medication like acitretin.
- Sleeping pills, hypnotic meds, and anxiety-reducing meds, such as acepromazine and diazepam.
- Seizure medication like phenytoin.
- Osteoporosis drugs like strontium ranelate.
- Antacids, gastric reflux, or ulcer pills like omeprazole, lansoprazole, famotidine, etc.
- Other antibiotics like penicillin.
- Antimircobial drugs like atovaquone.
Can dogs take Doxycycline if they use such drugs? Maybe, but the dosage needs to be adjusted and you have to schedule doses a few hours apart. Inform your vet about the drugs your dogs take so they can advise you accordingly. Contact your vet before giving drugs like antacids or laxatives while on a Doxycycline course.
Note that you can give your dog medicine like NSAIDs while doing a Doxycycline course, but just avoid giving the drugs within two hours of each other as NSAIDs can weaken the effect of Doxycycline.
It’s also important to keep in mind that drugs containing calcium, magnesium, or aluminum (and their mineral supplements) all make Doxycycline less effective. As such, you should administer Doxycycline at least 2 hours before or 6 hours after giving these drugs or supplements.
Similarly, if your dog takes any iron supplements or takes multivitamins containing iron, administer Doxycycline at least 2 hours before or 4 hours after giving an iron product.
Giving Doxycycline or any other drug to dogs can be a challenge sometimes. Because these drugs are given orally, it’s easy for dogs to spit them out, even if there’s no bad taste or difficulty swallowing.
If your dog makes a fuss taking pills, you can try giving them liquid Doxycycline as it’s easily ingested. You simply need to hold your pup down while administering the dose, then follow up with some water to cleanse the palette. But if your dog vomits the liquid, it’s better to stick to capsules or tablets.
One of the easiest and most foolproof ways of giving your dog a Doxycycline tablet is by hiding it inside some food like a slice of ham, butter, strawberry, or cucumber. You can buy strong-flavored pill pockets from a pet store. These are sticky treats designed for this purpose.
Other than that, you can get a pill pusher. These work well for small dogs and are readily available at vet clinics. You can also try giving pills as the vets do- confidently take hold of the upper jaw with one hand and tilt the nose upwards.
Slide the fingers of the same hand behind the canines, causing your pup to open its mouth. Then use your free hand to put the pill as far back inside as possible. Now close the jaw and massage their throat.
Does my dog need a prescription to take doxycycline?
Yes, Doxycycline is a prescription drug, just like other tetracycline antibiotics. You can purchase the medicine in different forms (tablet, liquid, capsule), but all of them are administered orally.
You can not purchase Doxycycline over the counter and need a prescription for it, though it’s commonly available at most pharmacies, clinics, vet clinics, and online drugstores.
Doxycycline is sold under several brand names. These include Oracea, Vibramycin, Periostat, Doryx, Acticlate, and Monodox. While the drugs are all FDA approved for human use, there’s no specific version of Doxycycline available solely for veterinary use. As such, the same Doxycycline is prescribed for dogs too.
How should I store Doxycycline?
Doxycycline needs to be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place. Keep away from moisture, sunlight, and heat. Avoid putting it in the refrigerator. Store away from the reach of children or pets. If the medicine is expired or not needed, discard it.
What should I do if I forget to give my pet a dose of Doxycycline?
In case you forget to give your dog their regular dose of Doxycycline, simply give the dose as soon as you remember. You don’t have to adjust the hours, and you continue the course as normal.
However, if there’s little time left before the next dose, then skip the missed one. Avoid giving two doses one after the other.
Accidentally giving your dog more antibiotics once shouldn’t cause any serious harm, but it’s better to call your vet and inform them. Be on the lookout for symptoms of overdose (nausea, respiratory distress, gastrointestinal pain) and report them to the vet. Smaller dogs are especially prone to this and can show severe symptoms on taking a high dose of antibiotics.
Can I Give My Dog Doxycycline?
Doxycycline is commonly prescribed to treat a variety of bacterial infections like leptospirosis, mycoplasma, toxoplasmosis, and psittacosis. It’s also the drug of choice when treating potentially life-threatening tick-borne diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis.
Is Doxycycline Safe?
Doxycycline is safe for most dogs and has minimal side effects when given in proper amounts. A rapid IV injection in large amounts could lead to serious cardiac effects.
Side effects of an oral dose are usually mild, like diarrhea and nausea, and can be reduced or eliminated completely if you give the antibiotics with food. If your dog continues to vomit even when the medication is paired with food, call your veterinarian to see if an alternative medication is required.
Pregnant and nursing dogs should not be given doxycycline to avoid affecting the puppies in utero or as they’re nursing. Tetracycline-based drugs negatively affect a puppy’s developing teeth and bones, setting them up for a lifetime of dental and bone problems.
Doxycycline is the least likely to cause teeth and bone abnormalities, but it should be a last resort in developing puppies.
Your dog will also become more sensitive to the sun, so make sure you’re limiting their exposure to prevent their skin from developing pustules or blisters. Rarely, a superinfection can occur if the bacteria present are resistant to doxycycline or doxycycline is prescribed incorrectly.
How Much Doxycycline Can I Give My Dog?
There are a few different dosage ranges used by veterinarians. There are good reasons for these different ranges, so you should always talk to your vet. The average dose lies between 1.4 to 2.3 mg/lb every 12 hours for seven to 14 days.
A typical dog dosage will also depend on what your dog is being treated for. For example, a Lyme disease dosage will be 4.5 mg/lb every 24 hours for 21 to 28 days. Ehrlichiosis is treated with 2.3 to 4.5 mg/lb twice per day for seven to 10 days.
A urinary tract infection or soft tissue infection requires 2.2 mg/lb twice a day for seven to 14 days.
If your dog is being treated for a bacterial illness, it will probably be treated initially with doxycycline in the clinic and given a few doses intravenously, into the muscle, or under the skin.
There’s an FDA-approved oral gel used to treat a periodontal disease called Doxirobe. It’s commonly prescribed after dental procedures where a dog’s mouth is particularly susceptible to infection due to advanced periodontal disease. You should talk to your vet and follow the drug’s instructions to effectively treat your dog.
What Can I Give My Dog for Infections?
Doxycycline is the best choice for certain bacterial infections, especially tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and ehrlichiosis. However, if your dog has had a bad reaction to doxycycline, it can be treated with tetracycline, minocycline, or oxytetracycline.
Unfortunately, these drugs aren’t as effective as doxycycline and their dosages are much higher. Common bacterial infections that cause ailments like pneumonia and urinary tract infections are better suited to treatment with non-tetracycline antibiotics like amoxicillin and enrofloxacin.
Doxycycline is a very important drug that’s used to treat very dangerous diseases in your dog. Because they treat diseases that can kill your dog, your vet will prescribe this antibiotic very rarely to prevent a rash of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
Doxycycline is always prescribed with great discretion, so when it has to be used, it will work the way it’s supposed to.