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They’re common medications for pets.

Health & Wellness

The side effects of dog antibiotics and steroids

They're common medications for cats and dogs

Dogs can't tell you exactly how they're feeling — but when your pet starts taking a new antibiotic or steroid, they may exhibit physical or behavioral changes that leave you wondering if something is wrong. Medication prescribed by your vet should be helping your pup heal, but sometimes they cause uncomfortable and annoying symptoms along the way.

The Dig spoke with Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch’s on-staff veterinarian, to share what pet parents should know about these common medications and their side effects.

How do antibiotics help dogs? 

Even the healthiest dog has likely been on antibiotics once or twice in their lifetime — they’re commonly prescribed medications. Dr. McCullough says that antibiotics treat bacterial infections in the skin, respiratory tract, urinary tract, blood and more. 

Different antibiotics produce different side effects. Before leaving the vet's office, ask them about how the medication may impact your dog. That way, you'll know what to look out for if an adverse reaction occurs. If your pup does have a negative reaction to any antibiotic, Dr. McCullough recommends contacting your vet as soon as symptoms arise.

What is metronidazole?

Metronidazole is an antibiotic that’s usually prescribed to treat diarrhea, giardiasis and certain types of bacterial infections, Dr. McCullough explains. Generally, dogs take metronidazole for a short period, she adds. 

Side effects of metronidazole are rare, but dogs that have side effects commonly experience nausea and vomiting. When the medication is given at a higher dosage and for a longer period of time, Dr. McCullough says that some dogs may show neurological signs like disorientation, incoordination, head tilting, abnormal eye movements and seizures.

What is cephalexin? 

This antibiotic is most commonly used to treat simple skin infections but can treat other bacterial infections, too, Dr. McCullough says. If a dog experiences side effects from this antibiotic, it's likely nausea.

What is amoxicillin?

Dogs are often prescribed amoxicillin when struggling with a urinary tract, gastrointestinal, skin or bacterial infection or pneumonia, Dr. McCullough explains. Heads up: Your dog may experience an upset stomach while taking this antibiotic. Talk to your vet if you notice your dog is uncomfortable.

What is Clavamox?

Veterinarians usually prescribe Clavamox if a dog has a skin, respiratory, bladder, tooth or bacterial infection or an infected wound from a bite. This is another medication that can cause dogs to experience an upset stomach — if this happens to your pet, call your vet for solutions.

RELATED: Can you give a dog Tylenol?

How do steroids help dogs? 

Steroids are another common medication for dogs. Most often, vets turn to steroids for their anti-inflammatory properties. Steroids bring down swelling or treat acute or chronic pain, and they work wonders on itchy dogs. These medications can also suppress the immune system, easing the symptoms of allergies and autoimmune-related illnesses.

The side effects of steroids depend on the dosage, Dr. McCullough says — meaning the stronger the prescription, the more potent the side effects. While your dog is on steroids, watch out for these symptoms:

  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • More frequent bathroom trips

Always talk to your vet about potential side effects from medications. And keep a close eye on your pet while administering the drug, especially when trying out a new antibiotic or steroid.

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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