Cephalexin For Dogs: Uses, Dosage, Side Effects

Cephalexin For Dogs

Cephalexin For Dogs: Cephalexin is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections in dogs. It works by interfering with the formation of bacterial cell walls, causing the walls to rupture. Cephalexin is in a class of drugs called cephalosporins and goes by the brand name Keflex.

Cephalexin is commonly used to treat skin infections, wound infections, bone and joint infections, respiratory tract infections, and urinary tract infections in dogs. It comes in capsule or liquid forms that are given orally, typically two to four times a day. The dosage depends on your dog’s weight.

Cephalexin is a very safe and effective antibiotic for most dogs. However, you should always follow your vet’s directions carefully and never stop treatment early, even if your dog seems better. Completing the full course of medication is important to fully eliminate the infection. If your dog’s condition does not improve, or gets worse at any time, contact your vet.

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Common Uses of Cephalexin in Dogs

Cephalexin For Dogs

Cephalexin is often used to treat skin infections, wounds, abscesses, and respiratory tract infections in dogs. It works against susceptible bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus that can cause skin problems and Streptococcus that may lead to respiratory illness.

  • For skin infections, cephalexin clears up conditions like hot spots, infections around the eyes or mouth, and infected wounds or surgical sites. It reduces swelling, redness, and discomfort while fighting the underlying infection.
  • For respiratory infections, cephalexin can treat pneumonia, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and other illnesses affecting the lungs, throat or sinuses. By controlling susceptible bacteria, it helps relieve symptoms like coughing, difficulty breathing, and thick nasal discharge.
  • Cephalexin may also be used short-term to prevent infection following surgery or dental procedures. In some cases, it is prescribed to clear up infection before surgery can be performed.
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The typical dosage for dogs is around 22 to 30 milligrams per pound of body weight per day, divided into two doses. Treatment usually lasts from 7 to 14 days but may continue for 4 to 6 weeks for severe or chronic infections. Be sure to finish the entire prescription as directed by your vet to fully clear up the infection.

By understanding how cephalexin works and following dosage instructions carefully, you can help your dog recover quickly and minimize the risks of the infection coming back. If symptoms worsen or persist for more than a couple of days into treatment, contact your vet right away.

Proper Dosage Guidelines for Cephalexin

The typical dosage of cephalexin for dogs is around 10 to 15 milligrams per pound of body weight, given 2-3 times a day. So for a average sized dog of around 50 pounds, the dosage would be around 500 milligrams of cephalexin 2-3 times daily.

Your vet will prescribe the specific dosage based on your dog’s weight and severity of infection. It’s important to follow the dosage instructions carefully and not stop treatment early. Even if your dog seems to be feeling better, the entire course of antibiotics must be completed.

  • Give cephalexin with food to avoid stomach upset. You can give the pills directly or hide them in a small treat or spoonful of peanut butter.
  • Double check that you have the correct dosage from your vet for your dog’s weight. The dosage is based on the assumption that the medication is given at regular intervals, so stick to the schedule.
  • Cephalexin can be given for 7-14 days for most minor infections. More severe infections may require 3-4 weeks of treatment. Do not stop early unless directed by your vet.
  • If you miss a dose, give it as soon as possible. But if it’s close to the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to the regular schedule. Do not double up on doses.
  • Possible side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. While usually not serious, contact your vet if side effects are severe or persist more than a couple of days.
  • Cephalexin should not be given to dogs with a known allergy to penicillin or cephalosporin antibiotics. Contact your vet immediately if your dog shows signs of an allergic reaction like facial swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing.
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By following the proper dosage and treatment guidelines provided by your vet, cephalexin can be a very effective antibiotic for treating infections in dogs. Be sure to call your vet with any questions or concerns about your dog’s treatment.

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Potential Side Effects of Cephalexin in Dogs

Cephalexin, like any medication, may cause side effects in some dogs. The good news is that cephalexin is generally well tolerated in most canines, but it’s still important to be aware of possible reactions. Some of the common side effects of cephalexin for dogs include:

  • Digestive upset: Cephalexin may irritate a dog’s stomach or intestines. You may notice vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, or excessive gas. These side effects are usually mild, but contact your vet if they are severe or persist for more than a couple of days. You can give cephalexin with food to help reduce stomach upset.
  • Allergic reaction: Some dogs may have an allergic reaction to cephalexin. Signs of an allergic reaction include swelling of the face or ears, hives, rash, or difficulty breathing. Seek emergency vet care immediately if a dog shows signs of an allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis can be life threatening if left untreated.
  • Lethargy or hyperactivity: In some dogs, cephalexin may cause changes in energy level or behavior. A dog may seem overly sedate or sleepy, or conversely become hyperactive or restless. These side effects are usually temporary, but let your vet know if they are severe or long-lasting.
  • Changes in urination: Cephalexin may lead to changes in a dog’s urination habits or urine appearance. You may notice the dog urinating more frequently, straining to urinate, or urine that is cloudy or discolored. These side effects are not usually cause for alarm but contact your vet if the changes concern you or persist for more than a couple of days after finishing the medication.
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While the side effects of cephalexin are usually minor, some dogs may experience more significant reactions. Always give cephalexin as directed by your vet and be on alert for any unusual symptoms in your dog. Call your vet right away if you have concerns about side effects from cephalexin or your dog’s reaction to the medication. Close monitoring and quick intervention can help keep your dog safe and comfortable while on cephalexin.


Is Cephalexin safe for dogs?

Yes, Cephalexin is very safe for most dogs when given as prescribed by a vet. It has been used for decades to treat bacterial infections in dogs and has a wide safety margin. However, some dogs may experience side effects like vomiting, diarrhea, or allergic reactions. Watch your dog closely after starting Cephalexin, especially the first few doses, to ensure they are tolerating it well.

What conditions is Cephalexin used to treat?

Cephalexin is commonly used to treat skin infections, wounds, abscesses, and respiratory or urinary tract infections caused by susceptible bacteria. It works against many gram-positive and some gram-negative bacteria that can infect dogs. Cephalexin is often very effective at eliminating infections when given for the full course of treatment.

What dosage of Cephalexin should I give my dog?

The dosage of Cephalexin for dogs depends on the dog’s weight. A typical dosage is around 22 to 30 milligrams of Cephalexin per pound of body weight, given two to four times per day. For example, a dog weighing 50 pounds may receive 1000 milligrams (two 500 mg capsules) two times per day. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions from your vet exactly.

How long will my dog need to take Cephalexin?

The duration of Cephalexin treatment depends on the type of infection, but is usually around 7 to 14 days. It’s important to give Cephalexin for the entire course of treatment, even if your dog seems better. Stopping early can allow some bacteria to survive and re-infect your dog. In some cases, longer treatment or a second course may be needed for chronic or severe infections. Always follow up with your vet to ensure the infection has cleared completely.