Most dogs take antibiotics at least once in their lives, whether for a current infection or as a preventative measure. One of the antibiotics commonly used in veterinary medicine is doxycycline.
What Is Doxycycline?
Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, which means it targets a wide range of bacteria. It also has similarly broad antimicrobial properties, targeting potential dangerous microbes like Wolbachia, Dirofilaria immitis, E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Serratia, Klebsiella, and Truperella, just to name a few.
Doxycycline is in a family of drugs called tetracycline. These drugs inhibit protein synthesis and alter the cytoplasmic membrane permeability of susceptible organisms, fighting off bacterial and microbial infections. Doxycycline is a partially synthetic drug, derived from natural and synthetic sources to create a powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotic.
What Are the Uses of Doxycycline for Dogs?
Doxycycline is typically used to treat bacterial infections and infections caused by microorganisms. It is not effective against viral infections or fungal infections. Your vet might prescribe doxycycline to treat a present infection, or as precaution against a secondary bacterial infection, as is often the case with viral infections like canine parvovirus that leave dogs vulnerable to secondary bacterial infections.
Some examples of conditions veterinarians treat with doxycycline for dogs include:
- Respiratory infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Infected wounds
- Blood-borne infections
- Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever
- Lyme disease
If your dog’s condition is not on this list, don’t worry. Doxycycline has a broad range of applications and can help treat many different types of bacterial infections and microorganisms that affect dogs.
Side Effects of Doxycycline for Dogs
Dogs generally tolerate doxycycline well, but it is always a good idea to understand the possible side effects of a drug before you give your dog a new medication. The most common side effects are symptoms of GI upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Severe GI symptoms could be a sign of a doxycycline overdose, so be sure to call your vet.
Tetracycline antibiotics like doxycycline can cause skeletal limb deformities in developing puppies in utero, posing a potential risk for pregnant mothers. In some cases, the benefits of using doxycycline outweigh the potential risks for pregnant mothers, but be sure to let your vet know if your dog is pregnant prior to treatment.
If your dog has a history of allergic reactions to antibiotics, especially antibiotics in the tetracycline family, make sure you mention this to your vet, as doxycycline could trigger a dangerous allergic reaction.
Doxycycline Drug Interactions
Drug interactions can cause problems for dogs taking multiple medications, just like they can for people. Talk to your vet if your dog takes any of the following medications or supplements while on doxycycline:
- Oral antacids
- Iron supplements
- Bactericidal antibiotics such as penicillin, cephalosporin, or aminoglycosides
- Anticoagulant medications like warfarin
If your dog is taking any of these other drugs, it does not necessarily mean he can't take doxycycline. However, it may change the way you administer the drug. For instance, oral antacids, bismuth, kaolin, and pectin are safe to take one-to-two hours before or after doxycycline, doses of iron and doxycycline should separated by three hours. Tetracycline can also change the clotting time for your dog's blood, which means that dogs on a drug like warfarin may require additional monitoring and an adjustment of the dosage.
Dosage of Doxycycline for Dogs
The dosage of doxycycline for dogs will vary depending on your dog’s health and condition. While the Merck Veterinary Manual recommends an oral dosage of 5-10 mg/kg per day, you should not attempt to adjust the dosage without the guidance of your veterinarian. Changing your dog’s medication can lead to antibiotic resistance, which is dangerous for your dog and may also result in a longer recovery time.
If you have questions about your dog’s dosage, contact your veterinarian. As with any antibiotic, make sure your dog finishes the full course of the drug, even if your dog is showing signs of recovery.
How to Give Doxycycline to Dogs
Doxycycline has a high bioavailablity, which means it is easily absorbed by the canine body. It can be given with or without food, unlike other types of tetracycline, as long as the dog has access to fresh water. The best way to give doxycycline to your dog is to follow your veterinarian’s instructions, as your veterinarian has access to detailed scientific literature about doxycycline uses, side effects, dosages, and drug interactions that most owners do not.
Note: This article is intended for informational purposes only. Contact your veterinarian for questions regarding your dog's case or with any concerns about doxycycline for dogs.