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Health & Wellness

Is Neosporin safe for dogs?

Neosporin can be a safe first aid tool for dogs, when applied correctly.

Accidents happen — like minor cuts, scrapes and scratches. And when your pup comes home from a day of fetch at the park with a new scrape, you might want to reach for the Neosporin. But is Neosporin safe to use on dogs?

We spoke to a veterinarian of emergency medical care who says the first step in answering this question is determining if your dog can be treated at home or if they should see the vet. If the wound is visibly open or bleeding, it’s an entry point for bacteria and could require stitches. Minor abrasions (scratches and scrapes) can usually be managed at home by keeping the area clean and applying a generic, vet-approved antibiotic ointment or cream. Here’s a step-by-step guide on safely using Neosporin for at-home dog first aid.

Is Neosporin safe to use on dogs?

In a pinch, Dr. Gina Ushi, DVM, a veterinarian at Pet Urgent Care of Wesley Chapel, says Neosporin can be used for minor scrapes, cuts and scratches on your dog when applied correctly and away from the ears, eyes and mouth. Neosporin's active ingredients should kill any existing bacteria and prevent the growth of new bacteria (if your pup doesn't lick it off). Like other over-the-counter medicine made for humans, it's recommended to chat with your veterinarian before application.

When it comes to applying Neosporin on a surgical wound like a spay or neuter, it could do more harm than good when not prescribed by your vet. "It is never recommended to use any topical ointment on surgical incisions unless specifically directed to by a veterinarian," Dr. Ushi warns. "Incisions heal best when they are kept clean and dry. A moist environment at an incision site could lead to infection."

How to apply Neosporin to your dog

For open-puncture wounds, bites and cuts, you should see your vet as soon as possible. For minor abrasions, Dr. Ushi says applying Neosporin or another vet-recommended antibiotic ointment can be done in two easy steps:

1. Clean the area with a cotton ball and sterile saline. No sterile saline? No problem. Warm water and mild soap can be used in its place, thoroughly rinsing and patting dry.

2. Apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment to the wound, avoiding areas near the ears, eyes and mouth. “If a very thick amount is applied, that may cause your dog to try and lick it off, which is not ideal,” Dr. Ushi explains.

RELATED: Importance of a pet emergency preparedness plan

What if my dog ingests Neosporin?

If your dog ingests Neosporin, they could experience minor side effects, including vomiting or diarrhea. If your pup is prone to licking, Dr. Ushi recommends using an Elizabethan collar or clothing like a T-shirt or sock to cover the wound.

Neosporin could cause a localized allergic reaction such as red, itchy or scaly skin in rare cases. It’s recommended to apply Neosporin to a small “test” patch of skin before applying to the abrasion to avoid allergic reactions.

Neosporin alternatives for dogs

“While Neosporin can be used in the short term, it is better to use a product like Mupirocin since it is labeled for dogs,” Dr. Ushi says. Ask your veterinarian what topical antibiotic and other first aid products are best for your pup.

When accidents and illnesses happen, our one simple plan can help your dog or cat get the best care. Sign up for Fetch Pet Insurance.

The Dig, Fetch Pet Insurance's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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