Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs?
By the time we reach adulthood, most of us are professionals in the art of treating our own cuts and scrapes. We know how to pluck out splinters with tweezers, we know the right way to wash out our bleeding thumbs, and we have learned the hard way that our open wounds need a little bit of time to breathe if they are ever going to heal properly. When our furry friends injure themselves running around in the back yard, however, we tend to freak out. We can handle our own blood, but a trickle of blood running down our dog’s leg is enough to trigger a panic attack.
Dogs are not renowned for their hygiene, so one of the biggest worries that pet parents have when their precious pooch sustains an injury is that the wound will become infected. We know our dogs are not going to apply alcohol to the wound three times a day—in all likelihood, all they will do is lick it with their filthy tongues—so it’s up to us to prevent and fight infected wounds. Our go-to is Neosporin, but is this product safe for use in canines? Can my dog have Neosporin?
While many over-the-counter topical medications are considered to be unsafe for dogs, Neosporin is one of the few that may be considered safe if it is used carefully. However, this does not mean that Neosporin is actually recommended for the treatment of open wounds in pets—there are much better alternatives to Neosporin, and if your dog’s wounds appear to be infected, they need to be examined by a veterinarian. If your pup has a small cut or scrape, you may decide to apply a small amount of Neosporin for a day or two, but no longer than that. And remember: if your dog licks it off their wound, they will not benefit at all, and it may make them sick if they ingest a substantial quantity.
Neosporin is one of the more popular brands of triple antibiotic topical ointment. These products have three different ingredients that all work to fight infection: bacitracin, polymyxin B, and neomycin. It is usually used on minor cuts and scrapes to accelerate wound healing and prevent infection in humans, but it may be effective for dogs, too.
If your dog comes back into the house with a small cut or scrape, the first step is to thoroughly clean the wound and examine it to make sure there is no debris left in their skin. If the wound is serious, or if it looks like it has come from a bite or a scratch inflicted by another animal, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
While Neosporin is considered safe for minor cuts and scrapes, it still is not the best treatment option. There are several products that have been formulated specifically for dogs, including Vetericyn, Ceragyn Wound and Skin Formula, and Protasia. These products will be more dog-friendly than human triple antibiotic.
Though Neosporin can help fight infection while wounds heal, it is not enough to protect against the diseases that may be present in the saliva of the animal who attacked your dog. If your canine companion has been attacked by a wild animal, there is always a chance that the aggressive animal may have rabies. This is especially true if the animal in question is a skunk, a raccoon, a bat, or a fox.
Rabies is a severe, life-threatening virus that devastates the nervous system. Symptoms can take several weeks to become apparent, but once they begin to set in, the disease will progress extremely quickly. Once symptoms have begun, prognosis is generally rather poor—most dogs who show symptoms of rabies die despite treatment. Because rabies is a virus and not a form of bacteria, antibiotics such as Neosporin will do very little to protect against it. If your dog had a run-in with a rabid animal, do not waste time with topical antibiotic ointments.
Things to Consider
Vaccination is the only way to fight rabies, but even if your dog is vaccinated, you should take them to the vet immediately once they have been bitten by a rabid animal. Dogs who have been exposed to rabies should be quarantined and monitored for at least a week to ensure that symptoms do not develop.
Neosporin is also not safe for eye or ear infections. Unless your veterinarian has given you explicit instructions to apply Neosporin near the eye, avoid antibiotic ointments in favor of a simple saline solution. This drug should not be applied to stitches or surgical wounds either.
Though there are much better products on the market, Neosporin is safe to use on minor cuts and scrapes in dogs. If your dog’s wound is severe, does not heal, or appears to have come from another animal, however, seek veterinary care as soon as possible—triple antibiotic ointment is typically used as a preventative measure and often will not be enough to treat existing infections.