Cephalexin For Dogs



The discovery of antibiotics in the 1920s altered the course of medicine forever, not just for humans but for dogs, too. Antibiotics are invaluable for their treatment of various bacterial infections. One of the most powerful antibiotics is Cephalexin. Veterinarians prescribe Cephalexin for dogs because of its ability to target several infections. This remedy helps your canine companion recover quickly from their illness and get back to their spirited ways.


However, there are some things you should know before your veterinarian prescribes Cephalexin to treat an infection in your dog. Read our detailed guide on Cephalexin for dogs to find out everything about this powerful antibiotic and how it can save your furry friend's life.



What Is Cephalexin For Dogs?

Discovered in 1945, Cephalexin is the generic name for an antibiotic that combats several bacterial infections. Before we get into what Cephalexin is, we must first understand what antibiotics are and how they work.


What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are drugs used to treat bacterial infections. These drugs work by stopping the growth of and destroying microorganisms that have infiltrated the body. Health care professionals determine the cause of the infection and prescribe the appropriate antibiotic and length of treatment. These medications treat a variety of infections in both humans and animals.


Each of these microorganism-killing medications is specific to particular infections. Prescribing a broad-spectrum antibiotic like Cephalexin during severe infections can limit or destroy a wide range of pathogens. These medications are typically administered as oral medication. Oral suspension and intravenous forms are also available.


Antibiotics are generally safe and have few side effects when correctly used. The most common side effects of antibiotic use are soft stools, diarrhea, and upset stomach. Antibacterial medications significantly altered the course of human and animal history in the 20th century and are a cornerstone of modern medicine.



owner giving dog red pill



Cephalexin is a Broad-Spectrum Antibiotic

Cephalexin is from the broad-spectrum group of antibiotic medications called Cephalosporins. These powerful antibiotics are similar to Penicillin and treat a variety of infections. There are seven main classes from which the majority of antibiotics come from.

The seven classes of antibiotics are:


  1. Cephalosporins (i.e., cephalexin)
  2. Penicillins (i.e., penicillin, amoxicillin)
  3. Macrolides (i.e., erythromycin, azithromycin)
  4. Fluoroquinolones (i.e., ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin)
  5. Aminoglycosides (i.e., gentamicin, tobramycin)
  6. Sulfonamides (i.e., co-trimoxazole, trimethoprim)
  7. Tetracyclines (i.e., tetracycline, doxycycline)




What is Cephalexin for Dogs Used to Treat?

Veterinarians prescribe Cephalexin to treat several bacterial infections in dogs. Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if you notice your furry friend acting out of character and showing symptoms of infection.

Some of the most common symptoms of bacterial infection are:


  • Elevated temperature/Fever
  • Sores, abscesses, and discharge on your dog's skin
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite


Common infections in dogs treated with Cephalexin include:



What Kinds of Bacteria Does Cephalexin Target?

A first-generation cephalosporin antibiotic, Cephalexin works by targeting both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Because of Cephalexin's broad-spectrum versatility, it is effective against several types of bacteria.


The most common types of bacteria targeted by Cephalexin are:


  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Streptococcus pyogenes
  • Streptococcus pneumonia
  • Klebsiella pneumonia
  • Proteus mirabilis
  • Escherichia coli
  • Haemophilus influenza


What Are the Most Common Forms of Cephalexin Available?

The medication has many human and veterinary formulations and goes by several brand names. All cephalexin drugs need a prescription by a healthcare professional.


Common brand name forms of Cephalexin are:


  • Veterinary forms: Rilexine, Keflex, Vetolexin
  • Human forms: Keflex, Biocef, Zartan, Panixine, Daxbia



vet handing medicine to canine




Cephalexin is not available over the counter and is available only by prescription from a licensed veterinarian. There are many forms of Cephalexin available. The most common form given to dogs is a chewable tablet.


The different forms and doses of Cephalexin for dogs available are:


  • Chewable tablets: 75 mg, 150 mg, 300 mg, and 600 mg
  • Tablets: 250 mg and 500 mg tablets
  • Capsules: 250 mg and 500 mg capsules
  • Oral suspension: 25 mg/ml and 50 mg/ml
  • Oral paste: Available in Canada


Cephalexin dosage varies based on the type of infection and the health history of the dog. The recommended dose of Cephalexin given for most infections is 13.6mg/pound for a dog. Cephalexin is administered in two doses a day at 12-hour intervals.


Like all antibiotics, it's important to take all doses and complete the full course of therapy. Any missed dose will reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.



Side Effects of Cephalexin for Dogs

Cephalexin is safe and given with or without food. It is generally recommended that you give your dog Cephalexin with some food. If you notice any side effects from giving your dog Cephalexin, take them to the vet immediately.


Some of the possible side effects of Cephalexin use for dogs include:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mild allergic reaction (i.e., skin rash, hives)
  • In rare cases, several allergic reactions (i.e., difficulty breathing, swelling)



Cost of Cephalexin

The cost of Cephalexin for dogs varies based on several factors. Cephalexin is not something that is readily available and needs to be prescribed by a licensed veterinarian.


Factors affecting the cost of Cephalexin treatment for dogs include:


  • Brand name
  • Number of capsules/tablets per bottle
  • The concentration of Cephalexin in a capsule, tablet, or oral suspension
  • If you have pet health insurance or not





Interaction With Other Drugs

Cephalexin can interact with other medications your dog is taking. Always tell your veterinarian about any current and other over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbal remedies your dog takes to avoid problems.


Some of the most common drug interactions with Cephalexin include:


  • Other antibiotics (i.e., Penicillin)
  • Blood thinners (i.e., Warfarin)
  • Arthritis medications (i.e., Probenecid)


Some of the potential side effects resulting from interaction with other drugs include:


  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased panting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased drooling
  • Skin rashes
  • Hyperactivity


Interaction With Other Medical Conditions

Your dog's underlying medical issues can impact the effectiveness of Cephalexin treatment. Always tell your veterinarian about any conditions your dog suffers from to limit these reactions.


Potential medical conditions affecting Cephalexin treatment are:


  • Allergies
  • Pregnancy
  • Nursing
  • Kidney issues (i.e., kidney disease, kidney failure)
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Interactions and side-effects from other medications
  • Pre-existing medical conditions



doctor giving corgi green capsule



Ingredients in Cephalexin

Cephalexin Monohydrate is the main active ingredient of Cephalexin. Several inactive ingredients are present in Cephalexin. Inactive ingredients vary based on the form of the treatment being administered.


Some of the most common inactive ingredients in different forms of Cephalexin are:


  • Tablets: Hypromellose, microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate, polyethylene glycol, sodium starch glycolate, titanium dioxide, and polysorbate 80.
  • Capsules: Sodium starch glycolate, magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide.
  • Oral Suspension: FD&C Red #40 (Food and Drug Administration approved food coloring), mixed fruit artificial flavors, silicon dioxide, sodium benzoate, xanthan gum, and sucrose.


More About Dog Medications and Antibiotics



Cephalexin Alternatives

Don't worry if your dog doesn't respond well to Cephalexin. There are several alternatives to the drug to cure your dog's infection.


Some antibiotic alternatives to Cephalexin are:


  • Tetracycline
  • Penicillin
  • Trimethoprim
  • Sulfamethoxazole
  • Ciprofloxacin


Can CBD Be An Alternative to Cephalexin?

Antibiotics can help to save your dog's life in cases of severe infection. But like many medications, these drugs come with side effects that can impact your dog's overall health. The popularity of CBD products for humans, such as CBD oil, has inspired many pet parents to use them as an alternative to antibiotics.


Past studies reveal the importance of cannabinoids and their possible role in resolving infections. A recent study showed that CBD combined with antibiotics helped destroy certain bacteria and aid recovery.


Although these studies are promising, you should always get veterinarian approval before giving your dog CBD oil or any other CBD pet product in place of or in combination with antibiotics. Adding CBD to your dog's wellness routine will not prevent infections, but it can help to boost their overall soundness. By routinely using CBD products like CBD oil, you can keep your dog mentally and physically fit to combat any future infections.



Final Thoughts - Cephalexin For Dogs

Antibiotics are game-changing medications for both humans and animals alike. One of the most widely used of these wonder drugs is Cephalexin. Veterinarians prescribe this broad-spectrum antibiotic to treat several infections in dogs. Usually prescribed in a chewable tablet, Cephalexin is available in many forms and is quite effective at saving your dog's life.


Giving Cephalexin to your dog is not without risks. Before using the antibiotic, always consider your dog's health history and pre-existing conditions. Recent studies reveal CBD to provide cooperative benefits in infection treatment. These promising results showcase the versatility of CBD and how it can aid one of the most effective antibiotics on the market in saving your pooch's life.


Read Next: Trazodone For Dogs




References [Citations]

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital (vcahospitals.com)
Pyoderma in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital (vcahospitals.com)
Inflammation of the Soft Tissues in the Mouth in Dogs | PetMD
Inner Ear Infection (Otitis Interna) in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital (vcahospitals.com)
Pneumonia (Bacterial) in Dogs | PetMD
Bone Infection in Dogs | PetMD
Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: A Structure−Activity Study | Journal of Natural Products (acs.org)
Long-term cannabinoid type 2 receptor agonist therapy decreases bacterial translocation in rats with cirrhosis and ascites - PubMed (nih.gov)
Cannabidiol is an effective helper compound in combination with bacitracin to kill Gram-positive bacteria | Scientific Reports (nature.com)

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