What is the strongest natural antibiotic for dogs?
Amoxicillin for Dogs
Has your dog been prescribed amoxicillin? This is a common antibiotic that many vets use in dogs and cats. It is very effective at treating multiple conditions and is a very safe and inexpensive choice for treating an infection in your dog.
What is amoxicillin?
Amoxicillin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that your vet may prescribe to your dog. Broad-spectrum means that this medication can treat a range of bacteria, including gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.
Amoxicillin works by attacking the formation of the cell wall of the bacteria. This means that it can kill bacteria and even help prevent new bacteria from being able to develop.
Why does my vet prescribe amoxicillin?
Your vet may have prescribed your dog amoxicillin to help with the following conditions:
- skin infection
- upper respiratory infection
- urinary tract infection
This may also be given for other reasons, but these are some of the most common issues that vets prescribe this medication.
How do I give my dog this medication?
This medication may be a tablet, a capsule, or a liquid that you give to your dog by mouth. You can hide the tablet in cheese or other food to help encourage your dog to take this medication. Some dogs are great at spitting out the pills, and you may have to place this pill in the back of their mouth.
If your dog has been prescribed this medication, it is always recommended to give the entire prescription unless your vet tells you otherwise. This helps decrease your chance of causing your dog to develop antibiotic resistance .
Amoxicillin is dosed based on your dog’s body weight and what infection your vet is trying to treat. A typical dosage used by many vets is 5 to 10mg per pound. This means a 50-pound dog would need to take 500mg twice a day.
This is usually given for 10 to 14 days. Sometimes this may even be given longer. Amoxicillin starts working in your dog and continues for 12 to 24 hours.
Are there any side effects of amoxicillin?
The most common side effect of your dog taking amoxicillin is with the gastrointestinal tract. If your dog is vomiting, this can be from taking amoxicillin without giving your dog any food. Other signs that are seen are:
- Abdominal pain
- Skin irritation
Antibiotics can kill the natural gut flora. Some dogs who experience GI issues when taking antibiotics may be given probiotics to help replace the normal gut flora.
If your dog has facial swelling or difficulty breathing after taking Amoxicillin, it is best to stop giving this medication and contact your vet right away as this can be a severe allergic reaction. Usually, these issues will go away after about 24 hours.
Amoxicillin is a safe and effective antibiotic that is commonly given to dogs for many different issues. If you are having any issues giving your dog this medication or noticing any side effects of your dog taking this medication, stop giving the medication and call your veterinarian.
Natural Canine Antibiotics
In recent veterinary practice, synthetic canine antibiotics are one group of drugs that are being overly prescribed by vets. They are being used for even the slightest infections, and sometimes, ridiculously, for viral infections as well.
As a result, a lot of bacteria are now resistant to the conventional antibiotics; and many dogs are suffering from the side effects of the long-term drug use.
If you are looking for a safer alternative to conventional canine antibiotics, please read on. This page covers the following topics:
- Bacteria and conventional canine antibiotics
- Possible side effects of antibiotics
- Herbal antibiotics for dogs
- Essential oils as natural antibiotics for dogs
- Other natural antibiotics for dogs
Bacteria and Conventional Canine Antibiotics
Bacteria — The Good and the Bad
Not all bacteria are harmful.
When we mention bacteria, most people will automatically think about the «bad» (pathogenic) bacteria that are capable of causing infections or illnesses.
But within our dogs’ bodies (and ours too), there are also good, «friendly» bacteria that are beneficial to our dogs (and us).
One such type of bacteria is the «gut bacteria», which live in the gastrointestinal tract of the host and which actually help with the digestion process. Some other good bacteria synthesize vitamin K (which is necessary for blood clotting). These «friendly» bacteria are commonly known as «normal flora».
When a dog is healthy, the «good» bacteria are able to keep the «bad» bacteria in check. But when the dog’s immune system is compromised, the number of bad bacteria will overwhelm the good ones, and problems (e.g. infections) occur.
When a dog develops a bacterial infection, the «go-to» conventional drug is an antibiotic.
Conventional Canine Antibiotics
There are two types of antibiotics: bacteriostatic drugs are antibiotics that inhibit the growth of bacteria, and bactericidal drugs are those that kill bacteria.
The problem is, antibiotics are non-discriminatory when it comes to eliminating bacteria. The growth of both bad and good bacteria are inhibited or they are both killed outright.
So, long-term use or over-use of antibiotics can greatly weaken a dog’s immune system, making the dog more prone to health issues, ranging from GI problems to yeast infections.
More seriously, over-use of antibiotics have led to the rapid development of «super bugs» — bacteria that have developed resistance to the existing drugs on the market.
Scientists have already acknowledged that our present technology cannot keep up with the bacteria’s ability to mutate and develop resistance. What this means is that the more antibiotics we use today on our dogs, the more difficult it may be for vets to treat our dogs’ future infectious diseases with any antibiotic.
Canine antibiotics should therefore be prescribed only when strictly necessary. They should only be used to treat infections and illnesses that have already set in, or have already progressed speedily.
Antibiotics should not be given to dogs as preventative medicines, unless it is absolutely necessary to do so.
Generally speaking, canine antibiotics should be given as a short course (e.g. 7-14 days) for a serious condition, such as a paralyzing attack of Lyme disease, or a serious dental abscess, or a life-threatening bladder infection.
Antibiotics lose their benefits when used long-term for chronic or recurring infections. Always ask the vet if it is absolutely necessary to give your dog an antibiotic, and refuse the drug if the vet prescribes it «just in case» and without a proper diagnosis.
Possible Side Effects of Antibiotics
The most common side effect caused by canine antibiotics is allergic reactions to the drugs. In fact, antibiotics cause more allergic reactions in dogs than any other group of drugs.
Signs of a mild allergic reaction include:
- Hives and skin rashes
- Itchy skin
- Watery eye discharge
A more serious but rare allergic drug reaction is anaphylactic shock, with signs such as:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing
Also, as mentioned above, because antibiotics cause an upset in the balance of gut flora, antibiotic treatment is often followed by bouts of indigestion, yeast infections, and ear infections.
Natural Canine Antibiotics Made from Herbs
While conventional canine antibiotics are necessary for infections that have already set in or are progressing rapidly, natural antibiotics are good to use in the beginning phases of an infection.
There are actually a variety of herbs that have strong anti-bacterial properties (either inhibiting bacterial growth or killing the bacteria) and can be used to treat illnesses caused by bad bacteria.
Here are some common herbs that can be used as natural antibiotics for dogs:
- Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia aquifolium): The herb Oregon Grape root contains berberine, which is effective against bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and protozoans. As such, Oregon grape has strong antibiotic effects. If you are using Oregon grape for an extended period of time (e.g. over 2 weeks) on your dog, it is advisable to add probiotic supplements to the dog’s diet to ensure that the normal gut flora is balanced.
- Calendula (Calendula officinalis): Calendula has been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Topically, it is very effective in disinfecting and healing wounds. It acts as a general tonic and stimulates the liver and immune system stimulant when taken internally as a tea or tincture.
- Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Yarrow has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. Used externally, it is a good healer of wounds of all sorts. It stops bleeding and infections. Taken internally, it supports the liver, soothes upset stomachs, and helps poor digestion. It is widely used to treat fevers, colds, and flu-like symptoms.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa): This potent herb is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and a powerful antioxidant. Topically, you can use it (mixed with manuka honey — another natural antibiotic) to stop skin infections. Taken internally, it stimulates the liver and is good for GI problems such as irritable bowel syndrome.
- Echinacea (Echinacea spp.): Echinacea is known for its ability to balance the immune system and, due to its powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, is effective against all types of infections.
- Some culinary herbs: You can also easily use some herbs from your kitchen as canine antibiotics. Herbs such as thyme, basil, cayenne, ginger, and garlic all have anti-bacterial properties.
Essential Oils as Natural Antibiotics for Dogs
Quite a few essential oils have antibacterial properties and can be used topically to disinfect minor wounds. (DO NOT give essential oils to dogs internally without supervision of a vet with proper training in aromatherapy.)
Some antibacterial essential oils that are safe to use topically on dogs include:
- Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
- Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
- Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) (do not use on epileptic dogs)
- Thyme ct. linalool (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalol)
Other Natural Canine Antibiotics
In addition to herbal canine antibiotics, there are other natural and readily available substances that can be used as antibiotics for dogs. For example:
- Grapefruit Seed Extract: Visit this page for more information on how to use GSE as a natural antibiotic.
- Herbal Manuka Honey: Click here to see how to make herbal honey.
- Bee Propolis: Bee Propolis is an excellent natural antibiotic and topical disinfectant. Liquid propolis can be applied to burns, minor wounds such as cuts and scratches. It can also be mixed with aloe vera gel if the affected areas are large.
C.J. Puotinen, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats (Keats Publishing, 1999).
M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Herbs for Pets (Bowtie Press, 1999).
M. Goldstein, The Nature of Animal Healing (Ballantine Books, 2000).