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Is triple antibiotic ointment safe for dogs?

Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs? Minor Wound Care for Your Pup

Plenty of things might cause minor cuts and scrapes on your dog: Rooting through dense brush, stepping on a sharp stone, or getting whacked by the family cat, for example. When humans experience minor scrapes, we tend to use Neosporin to prevent infection. Neosporin is a brand-name antibiotic ointment that is found in almost every household, and it’s perfectly safe for humans. But is Neosporin safe for dogs?

When your dog has a minor wound on its body or face, you might think of reaching for that Neosporin tube and applying a bit to the wound site. It’s important to make a few considerations before you do, though. Remember: Neosporin is a product made for humans, not dogs.

Is Neosporin safe to use on your pup? Read on for a closer look at Neosporin and its ingredients.

The Ingredients in Neosporin

Neosporin is made up of three different antibiotics: Bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. These antibacterial agents work together to suppress the growth of harmful bacteria on the skin, preventing an infection from developing when we experience small cuts and scrapes. It also creates a physical barrier on the skin to prevent bacteria from entering the wound.

Those antibiotics do the exact same thing for your dog — kill off bacteria before they have a chance to grow and create a barrier to block much of the bacteria at the same time. But are the components of Neosporin safe for dogs?


Bacitracin has been cleared for use on animals — it’s a perfectly safe option for your pup. A 1989 study compared dogs who had been treated with the antibiotic after surgery to those who hadn’t received the antibiotic. Those dogs who received Bacitracin had far less infections and fewer positive bacteria cultures. So, this medication worked well for dogs.

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Neomycin is also effective for treating infections in dogs, but it comes with possible side effects. Hearing loss has been linked to the antibiotic when it is used intravenously, ranging from muffled hearing to complete deafness. In all cases, those hearing changes were permanent in the dogs who experienced them.

Is your dog likely to experience hearing loss from a small dab of Neosporin being applied to their skin? No, that would be essentially impossible. But it’s still something that should give dog parents pause when using a medication made for humans on their canine companions.

Polymyxin B

Derived from the bacterium Bacillus polymyxa, Polymyxin B is generally considered a safe antibiotic choice for dogs. It’s included in Neosporin as a “back-up” drug, used on top of other antibiotics in case they aren’t effective.

Some kinds of Neosporin, as well as other brands of antibiotic ointments, contain a fourth ingredient: Pramoxine. It’s a topical painkiller that helps to slightly numb the wound site and prevent itchiness and irritation. Pramoxine is considered safe for dogs as well and is often included in anti-itch sprays made for animals.

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When to Use Neosporin on Dogs

So, the ingredients of Neosporin are generally considered safe for dogs. Does that mean you should apply Neosporin every time your dog experiences a minor cut or scrape?

A small amount of Neosporin applied to a very minor cut or scrape won’t be harmful. However, it’s not necessary to apply the ointment to every minor wound that your dog experiences. It probably won’t hurt your pup and can help prevent infection and make your dog a little more comfortable, but it’s not required.

Keep in mind that many dogs will simply lick the Neosporin off of the wound site after you’ve applied it. So, applying the ointment may very well be a waste of time. Plus, you don’t want your dog ingesting large amounts of Neosporin — swallowing a small bit probably won’t cause any harm, but you don’t want to risk anything more.

It’s also important to realize that some dogs might have an allergic reaction to Neosporin or one of its active ingredients. If you plan on applying Neosporin to your dog’s skin in the future, it’s a good idea to dab a small bit on a test area first, then keep an eye on it to see if inflammation, redness, or a rash develops. If it does, you’ll know that your dog is allergic — stop use immediately.

What to Do When Your Dog Has a Small Scrape

What should you do when you notice a minor cut or scrape on your dog’s body? Follow these simple first-aid steps:

  • Wash the wound site gently with warm water to get rid of any debris.
  • Apply a pet-safe antiseptic solution like Chlorhexidine to the area to kill off bacteria. Take care not to get any in your dog’s eyes or mouth. Allow it to dry before moving on to the next step.
  • At this stage, you can apply a topical antibiotic like Neosporin if you want to. Again, your dog may promptly try to lick it off. Try to prevent this from happening for at least 10 or 15 minutes so the antibiotics have a chance to work.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog’s wound over the next few days to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. Don’t let your dog lick or chew at the site, which would prolong the healing process. If the wound gets worse, call your vet right away.

Remember: The above steps are only for very minor injuries like small cuts or scrapes, nothing more. And it’s always smart to play it safe and call your veterinarian if you’re considering applying Neosporin or any other over-the-counter topical antibiotic to your dog. That way, you know whether it’s safe or something to reconsider.

Small scrapes and cuts can usually be dealt with at home, perhaps with a quick call to the vet’s office to make sure your first-aid methods are sound. But what do you do when your dog experiences a more severe wound?

Could it Be Food Allergies?

Did you know that the majority of food-based allergies are actually animal-based proteins ? That’s right, your dog might be allergic to beef, chicken, pork, or other animal proteins in their food which may cause a lot of the itching and scratching you may have seen that led to the cuts/wounds you’ve noticed.

Learn about our Clean Protein Dog Food and our Skin & Coat Dog Supplements to help provide your dog with all of the nutrients they need to thrive.

At Wild Earth, our mission is to make the healthiest dog food on the planet. Wild Earth is a Vet-developed food that is high in plant-based proteins, not animal-based proteins, and provides a complete source of nutrition for our dogs. In fact, in a recent study, 43% of dogs fed Wild Earth saw an improvement in itching and scratching, this is just one of the many benefits of a high-quality, clean plant-based protein dog food like Wild Earth.

Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs: lady petting dog

More Serious Wound Care For Dogs

It’s a nightmare scenario for any dog parent: Their beloved canine companion limps back inside, bleeding heavily from a visible wound. What do you do when your dog suffers a more serious wound?

Examples of serious wounds include things like:

  • Any open wounds that are bleeding profusely
  • Puncture wounds
  • Deep wounds or cuts
  • Broken bones
  • Burns

The first step is to remain calm. It’s easier said than done, but becoming hysterical won’t help anyone, your pooch least of all.

If your dog is bleeding profusely, grab a towel and compress the wound area with it to help stop the blood flow. Next, call your veterinarian right away to let them know what the situation is and that you’re coming in for emergency treatment. Carefully load your dog in the car, do your best to maintain compression on the wound, and drive your pooch to the vet’s office for help.

Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs or Not?

Neosporin is fine to use on your dog for very minor cuts and scrapes — it can help prevent bacterial infections and can keep your dog from scratching, licking, or biting at the wound site while it heals. Make sure he or she doesn’t lick off the ointment after you’ve applied it, and your pup should be fine.

Remember: It’s possible for your dog to be allergic to Neosporin or its ingredients. Neosporin is not appropriate to use on other types of skin problems, like hot spots, rashes, or skin infections. And at the end of the day, Neosporin is a product made for humans, not dogs — it’s not necessary to use on your canine friend at all.

If your dog suffers any kind of wound that is more serious than a small scrape or cut, contact your veterinarian for help. It’s always best to play it safe.

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Neosporin On Dogs

Is it safe to use Neosporin on dogs?

Today we are going to discover whether it’s safe to use Neosporin on dogs. We will look at what it contains, how it works and the potential risks if your dog licks Neosporin off themselves. We will help you to decide whether Neosporin is the best product to use on your dog, and let you know when it’s time to call the veterinarian.

Neosporin on Dogs

Uh oh – you’ve found a small scratch on your dog. Or perhaps your pup slid across the carpet a little too hard and now has a stomach covered in carpet-burn. Or maybe your pooch was out roaming in the woods and was scraped by some thorns. Can you use Neosporin on dogs?

It’s easy for a human. But should we do the same first-aid treatment on our pets? Is Neosporin safe for dogs? Is there a safer alternative? Sometimes it is hard to figure out if a simple, human treatment is safe for dogs, even for something as minor as a scrape.

What is Neosporin?

Neosporin is advertised as a “triple-antibiotic ointment”, but what does that really mean? Well, simply put, Neosporin is made up of three different antibiotics: bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. All of these work to kill bacteria on the skin. This allows Neosporin on dogs to effectively prevent infections in minor wounds, such as cuts or scrapes.

Furthermore, many types of Neosporin also contain a topical painkiller called Pramoxine. This medication works to slightly numb the site when applied, helping to relieve pain. This is good information, but what does it mean for our pets? Let’s look at each ingredient in turn and see particularly how it affects canines.

Bacitracin and Dogs

There have been a number of studies done on the effectiveness of Bacitracin in dogs.

One of these studies was done in 1989. It was one of the first to really look at using this antibiotic in dogs. Basically, this study looked at dogs who had recently undergone bone surgery. It compared those who had been treated with Bacitracin post-surgery against those that had either not been treated at all or who had simply been irrigated with a saline solution. It was found that those who were treated with Bacitracin had a significantly lower amount of infections and fewer positive bacteria cultures. In other words, this antibiotic worked wonders in preventing infection after surgery.

Another study explored the effects of oral bacitracin. It was found that when taken orally, this medication diminished the colonies of certain bacteria in the intestines. Furthermore, no major side-effects were found even in cases of overdose.

Neomycin and Dogs

Studies regarding Neomycin are a little more complicated, and not nearly as promising.

Neomycin works by suppressing the growth of bacteria. This leads to the bacteria’s death in an amazingly short amount of time. This antibiotic is also not absorbed by the intestine, like the previous one, which makes it a great choice for treating infections in the digestive tract. This means that Neomycin is an extremely powerful and useful antibiotic. However, this does not come without some drawbacks.

There has been at least one major side effect reported for the incorrect use of this drug, which makes it dangerous to use without the supervision of a veterinarian. One study found that dogs who were dosed intravenously with neomycin experienced hearing changes. These hearing changes ranged from complete deafness to muffling. However, in all cases, the change was permanent.

Polymyxin B and Dogs

This antibiotic is derived from a certain bacterium called Bacillus polymyxa, which is how it got its name. This drug is commonly used when previous treatments have failed. This is most commonly due to methicillin-resistant bacteria, which do not respond to the usual antibiotics. However, these bacteria do respond to Polmyxin B, which makes it a fantastic back up drug.

Sometimes, it is even used on top of other antibiotics just in case they are not completely effective. This, actually, is its use in Neosporin. Furthermore, side effects for this drug are generally rare. However, one study did find that pemphigus vulgaris was a possible, serious side effect.

Can You Put Neosporin on Dogs?

Can Neosporin be used on dogs? In short— yes, you can put Neosporin on dogs. However, this might not be the safest and best option for all canines, all the time. When it comes to dog wound care, Neosporin on dogs is an option, not a rule. Based on what we have learned about the ingredients of Neosporin on dogs, there are usually good outcomes when they are used on dogs. However, they can also cause various side effects, like hearing loss, when used incorrectly.

Plus, Neosporin is, plain and simple, not made for canines. It is, above all, a human drug and therefore should not be used on dogs regularly – if at all. You should never try to self-treat you pet with drugs, even something as small as a scratch.

Neosporin is dosed and created for adult humans, who are much bigger and have a much different biology than dogs. This can lead to problems in smaller dogs particularly, though larger dogs can also be affected by negative side effects if treated without vet supervision.

If your pooch gets a minor injury and you are considering using Neosporin, it is important to call and ask your vet first. This will allow your vet to instruct you on the proper use and dosage for your particular dog. While you’re at it, you might also want to ask your vet about the signs of infections and anything in particular you might need to look out for. If you dog begin showing signs of infection, it is always important to take them to the vet as soon as possible. Your vet can treat infections more efficiently and safely than you can at home.

Can you use Neosporin on dogs?

What To Do If Your Dog Licked Neosporin

If your dog licks Neosporin off one of their wounds, there probably isn’t anything to be worried about. Ingesting Neosporin might cause minor side effects, such as stomach upset. However, odds are that none of these side effects will be serious.

With that said, Neosporin will not be helpful for wound management if your dog immediately licks it off! Because of this, it might be a good idea to consider testing out methods to prevent wound licking. Not only will this prevent your pooch from removing the Neosporin, but excessively licking can also slow down the healing process.

You could try preventing licking by using the dreaded “cone of shame,” a sock, or a t-shirt, depending on the specific location. If your dog’s scratch is on his or her trunk, this might be a good time to break out those cute dog clothes. If you have a small dog, you could also try using baby clothes without the buttons.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

Actually, my in-laws use baby onesies for this exact reason. Their elderly dog has a skin condition that often calls for the use of topical antibiotics. In order to prevent her from licking it all off, they put her in a plain, baby onesie and simply do not button it. It actually fits her perfectly!

Your complete guide to Neosporin for dogs - Dog health & care advice from The Labrador Site.Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs

Generally speaking, Neosporin on dogs is safe. However, this does not mean that you need to apply it to every little cut and scrape. Instead, it is better to ask your vet before applying it, since only they know your dog’s particular situation. While many of the ingredients in Neosporin have been used on dogs, it is generally safer to always get your vet’s input before treating your pet.

References and Further Reading

  • Rosenstein. “The use of bacitracin irrigation to prevent infection in postoperative skeletal wounds. An experimental study.” The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 1989.
  • Bonomo, Robert. “Topical triple-antibiotic ointment as a novel therapeutic choice in wound management and infection prevention: a practical perspective.” Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy. 2014.
  • Bond, Glenn. “Oral Administration of Bacitracin.” Experimental Biology and Medicine. 1948.
    Morgan. “Effects of neomycin on the waveform of auditory-evoked brain stem potentials in dogs.” American Journal of Veterinary Research. 1980.
  • Rybnicek. “Suspected polymyxin B-induced pemphigus vulgaris in a dog.” Veterinary Dermatology Journal. 2007.
  • Mateus. “Antimicrobial usage in dogs and cats in first opinion veterinary practices in the UK.” Journal of Small Animal Practices. 2011.

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program

Pippa’s online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website

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