Cephalexin For Dogs

cephalexin for dogs

Has your veterinarian prescribed cephalexin for dogs to your Labrador? Here’s the information you want to know about the drug he is taking.

[wp_ad_camp_5]If your Lab has ever had an infection, there’s a good possibility he was treated with cephalexin.

The drug kills a wide range of bacteria, and there are relatively few serious side effects of cephalexin in dogs.

A lot of dogs owe their lives to treatment with cephalexin.

What is cephalexin for dogs?

A broad-spectrum antibiotic, cephalexin is effective against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Cephalexin works on these bacteria by causing cell wall rupture – that’s the end of those bacteria. It is a first generation cephalosporin, a type of antibiotic similar to penicillins.

Cephalexin for dogs is available in liquid, tablet and capsule forms. The drug is marketed under various trade names including Keflex, Keftab, Rilexine, Sporidex and Biocef.

An Owner's Guide To Cephalexin For Dogs

It is also known as cefalexin, the same pronunciation but a different spelling.

The Merck Veterinary Manual notes that cephalexin is “quite active” against many gram-positive bacteria. However, cephalexin is just “moderately active” against gram-negative bacteria. For anaerobic bacteria – those organisms growing without oxygen – penicillins are more effective than cephalexin.

If your vet suspects a bacterial infection, she vet will take skin scrapings and/or a blood test to determine what kind of bacteria is responsible for your dog’s problem.

Based on the findings, she may prescribe cephalexin to eliminate the bacteria.

The choice of drug and dosage is also based on your dog’s medical history.

What is cephalexin used for in dogs?

Cephalexin for dogs treats a wide range of canine bacterial infections. It is one of the most useful antibiotics in the veterinary toolbox.

[wp_ad_camp_2]Cephalexin is especially useful against Staphylococcus aureus infections. Other bacteria eradicated by cephalexin include E. coli, Haemophilus influenza, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus mirabilis and Streptococcus pneumonia and Streptococcus pyogenes.

Veterinarians may prescribe cephalexin for dogs diagnosed with skin, urinary tract, ear, joint and respiratory tract infections. Depending on the type of infection, the vet may prescribe other medications along with cephalexin in dogs.

Cephalexin is also prescribed in dogs to prevent infection of the heart valves.

If your dog gets into a fight or otherwise experiences a wound or abscess, the vet may prescribe cephalexin. S. aureus is often found in skin infections, such as pyoderma or “hot spots,” a common side effect of Lab allergies. Along with cephalexin, your vet may prescribe a topical antibiotic treatment along with special shampoos.

Another advantage of cephalexin in dogs is that the medication is relatively inexpensive. Prompt treatment with cephalexin may prevent your dog from developing a secondary infection. Effective and inexpensive – that’s a combination hard to beat.

Cephalexin dosage for dogs

The typical cephalexin dog dosage is 10 to 15 mg for each pound of body weight.

An Owner's Guide To Cephalexin For Dogs

That means a 50 pound animal may receive cephalexin 500 mg for dogs.

Since Labs weigh in between 50 and 75 pounds, a dog on the lower end may receive cephalexin 500 mg, while on the upper end cephalexin 500 mg for dogs and cephalexin 250 mg for dogs may constitute a dose.

Your vet will determine the appropriate cephalexin dosage for your dog.

How often should I give my dog cephalexin?

Your veterinarian will tell you how often to give your dog cephalexin. It is important to follow their instructions closely.

Cephalexin in dogs is generally given two to three times daily. It is best to give cephalexin to your dog at the same time each day. Most dog cephalexin prescriptions run for seven to 10 days.


If you are late for a dose, give the medication as soon as possible. However, if it is nearly time for your dog’s cephalexin dosage, just give the regular dose. Do not give your dog two doses of the drug at the same time.

A few studies have been carried out looking at the spacing of dosages in varying concentrations.

At doses of 20mg/kg, a 1999 study showed that in order to maintain therapeutic concentrations, it needed to be administered every six to eight hours.

A 2008 study compared 30mg/kg cephalexin given once daily, with 15mg/kg cephalexin given twice daily. It found no difference between the groups, and both treatments resolved the superficial pyoderma in the 14 dogs sampled.

This shows that cephalexin treatment regimes may vary depending upon the dosage chosen, but that they should still all be effective.

The important thing is to do exactly as your vet instructs.

Cephalexin for dogs side effects

The amount of cephalexin prescribed varies depending on the type of infection with which your dog is diagnosed. Dogs with certain underlying medical conditions may have the dosage adjusted.

An overdose of cephalexin in dogs is not likely to cause serious harm. However, it increases the likelihood of side effects. That’s especially true of gastrointestinal issues.

Most dogs do not receive cephalexin for long-term use. That’s because long-term use of cephalexin in dogs may lead to kidney or liver issues. Blood platelet counts may also decrease.

Although cephalexin is generally safe, as with any drug, side effects are possible. Some side effects of cephalexin in dogs are alleviated by giving the medication with food. Always follow the vet’s dosing instructions.

Some dogs may feel nauseous, vomit or have diarrhea after taking cephalexin. This occurs most often when the cephalexin dog dosage is given without food. Adding it to a meal might solve the problem.

Other potential side effects of cephalexin in dogs include drooling, hyper-excitability and excess panting. Contact your vet if your dog exhibits any side effects. Also let your vet know of any other medications or supplements your dog takes, as a drug interaction is possible.

Cephalexin Contraindications

Cephalexin is contraindicated in some dogs. This includes dogs that are pregnant or nursing, or have been diagnosed with kidney failure. Epileptic dogs or those that ever experienced a seizure should not receive cephalexin.

The same holds true for dogs that have experienced bad reactions to penicillin or any other category of antibiotics. That extends to owners and caregivers. If you are allergic to penicillin, take care when handling cephalexin.

Rarely, cephalexin in dogs causes lameness or motor issues. These incidents occur most often in large breeds, generally bigger than Labrador retrievers. If you have a very large Lab, ask your vet about whether your dog can take cephalexin.

Can I give my dog cephalexin?

In order to give your dog cephalexin, you need a prescription from a veterinarian.

[wp_ad_camp_1]You cannot obtain cephalexin for dogs without a prescription.

The FDA has not approved cephalexin for use in dogs or any other animals, but vets are allowed to prescribe it under “extra label” provisions.

Although cephalexin is used to treat many types of infections, it is crucial to know exactly what kind of bacteria is affecting your dog.

That is why it is never a good idea to try treating a dog yourself with leftover cephalexin given to you by a friend.

When cephalexin for dogs does not work

Although cephalexin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic, it may not treat your dog’s condition.

For example, cephalexin is not effective against Enterobacter.

This bacterium often causes canine skin, urinary tract and eye infections. Giving a dog cephalexin for such infections would not help the dog and could cause resistance, so your dog may not respond to cephalexin when he really does need the drug.

Always remember that antibiotics do not work against viruses. If a dog has a viral, or a fungal infection, cephalexin is not effective.

Only testing by a vet will reveal the source of your dog’s ailment.

If your vet prescribes the drug for your dog, she will explain the cephalexin dog dosage for your pet. You can give your dog cephalexin as prescribed, as it is given orally. As noted, ask your vet about giving your dog cephalexin with food.

Cephalexin For Dogs – a summary

Thanks to antibiotics such as cephalexin, your dog may be on the road to recovery quite soon.

Remember to give your dog cephalexin for the entire seven to 10 day period as recommended by your vet, even if he appears fine after a few days on the drug.

Not completing the full course of antibiotics can mean the bacteria become resistant to cephalexin. You don’t want your dog to have a relapse.

Follow your vet’s instructions, and your Lab should feel much better soon.

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References and Further Reading