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What are Antibiotics Allergies?

A variety of different antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infection in dogs. These drugs either kill bacteria outright (bactericidal) or they make it more difficult for the bacteria to grow and reproduce (bacteriostatic). Some antibiotics are broad-spectrum, meaning they are effective for a variety of different diseases, while others are narrow-spectrum since they mainly target one type of bacteria or infection. Antibiotics fall into different classes, based on their chemical structure and the mechanism with which they target bacteria. The most common and well known are the beta-lactam antibiotics, like penicillin, which prevent bacteria from forming a cell wall. Other classes of antibiotics can affect DNA synthesis or the production of necessary proteins in certain bacteria.

Any drug has the potential for side-effects or allergic reaction. Side-effects refer to the negative effects the drug may have on the body, while allergic reaction describes an immune system response that targets the medication as a threat. While side-effects will be present to a greater or lesser degree in any dog taking the drug, allergic reactions are based on individual sensitivity to a specific medication. Unfortunately, antibiotics cause more allergic responses in dogs than any other group of drugs. Most symptoms are typical of other histamine producing allergies; dogs may develop an itchy rash, and watery eyes or nose. Swelling of the face or even the respiratory tract is possible. In rare cases, dogs can have a severe, life-threatening reaction called anaphylactic shock. This can cause collapse, difficulty breathing and even death.

Most owners won’t be aware of an allergic response until the antibiotic is prescribed to their dog. This is why it is important to watch dogs carefully anytime a new medication is started and get immediate treatment for symptoms that appear unusual or severe. All previous allergic reactions should be communicated to the veterinarian before an antibiotic is prescribed. If your dog has an allergic response to one antibiotic, it’s likely that he will experience a similar problem with other medications in the same class.

Antibiotics help to eliminate harmful bacteria and are some of the most important medications for dogs, however they are also one of the most common causes of allergic drug reaction. Symptoms range from mild rash and watery eyes, to rare, but life-threatening, anaphylaxis.

Antibiotics Allergies Average Cost

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Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Antibiotics Allergies in Dogs

Look for these symptoms if your dog is taking an antibiotic for the first time.

  • Rash (maculopapular lesions)
  • Redness (erythroderma)
  • Other types of skin lesion (blisters or scaling skin)
  • Itchiness (pruritus)
  • Incessant scratching
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Swelling and hives (uticaria-angiodema)
  • Purple rash caused by bleeding into the dermal tissue (purpura)
  • Anaphylactic shock which is rare (vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, death)

Types

There are too many antibiotic classes to list them all. Following are some common types that could be prescribed to your dog. Penicillins and sulfonamides have the highest rates of allergic reaction.

  • Beta-lactam antibiotics – group of bactericidal drugs that inhibit the formation of the cell wall including penicillin, cephalosporins, and cephamycins
  • Sulfonamides (sulfa drugs) – a group of bacteriostatic drugs, one of the most common antibacterial agents prescribed to dogs because their low cost and relative effectiveness in treating typical bacterial infections; examples are sulfadiazine, sulfadimethoxine, and succinylsulfathiazole
  • Tetracyclines – broad-spectrum bacteriostatic agents that get their name because of their chemical structure with four rings; Oxytetracycline, Minocycline, and Doxycycline are some examples used in dogs
  • Quinolones and Fluoroquinolones – a group of bactericidal antibiotics that interfere with the bacteria’s ability to make DNA; some examples are ciprofloxacin, danofloxacin and difloxacin
  • Aminoglycosides – this is a group bactericidal antibiotics that stops the production of necessary proteins in the bacteria, Gentamicin and Amikacin are two examples used in dogs
  • Macrolides – bacteriostatic antibiotics that inhibit the production of bacterial protein; Azithromycin is the main example used in dogs
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Causes of Antibiotics Allergies in Dogs

These are some causes and risk factors for antibiotics allergies.

  • New antibiotic prescribed to your dog
  • Dog develops a new allergy
  • General tendency toward allergic reactions
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Diagnosis of Antibiotics Allergies in Dogs

Antibiotic allergies are typically diagnosed because owners notice an unusual response when their dog begins a new medication. Rarely, dogs could also develop a new allergy to an antibiotic which previously didn’t cause a problem. There isn’t any way to test for an antibiotics allergy without actually giving the drug to your dog. 

You should call the veterinarian if you see abnormal symptoms in your dog, especially when these correspond with the start of a new mediation. The veterinarian will be able to tell you if this is a typical side-effect, part of the original infection, or a more dangerous response. Life-threatening symptoms like collapse or difficulty breathing should be treated as an emergency.

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Treatment of Antibiotics Allergies in Dogs

With any drug reaction, the first important treatment is to stop taking the medication. If the reaction was mild, your dog’s symptoms will likely clear up on their own and no further treatment will be necessary. However the veterinarian may still need to prescribe another antibiotic to treat the original infection.

Creams and topical ointments may be necessary for severe rashes and skin infections. This can help them heal and reduce the chances of further infection. Affected areas may need to be clipped of hair and covered with a bandage. Antihistamines or corticosteroids could be given to reduce symptoms and make your dog more comfortable.

Anaphylactic shock will need more aggressive treatment. Immediate epinephrine injection can reduce life-threatening symptoms. Additional oxygen, intravenous fluids, blood transfusions and other emergency measure could also be necessary.

If symptoms continue after the antibiotic is discontinued, this suggests the allergic reaction was likely related to another trigger. You should discuss this with the veterinarian and research other possible causes.

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Recovery of Antibiotics Allergies in Dogs

Most dogs recover from an allergic reactions to antibiotics. Life-threatening symptoms are rare, and even anaphylactic shock can be treated as long as your dog gets emergency care in time. Your dog will likely have the allergy for life, however, so this will need to be managed. Any new veterinarian should be informed of all your dog’s known allergies. Discuss side-effects and the possibility of an allergic reaction anytime a new medication is prescribed, so you know what symptoms to watch for in your dog. If your dog has had an anaphylactic reaction to medications or other triggers, ask the veterinarian about getting a dog Epipen so that you have something on hand to use in case of another crisis.

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Antibiotics Allergies Average Cost

From 435 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Antibiotics Allergies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mix breed

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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Lethargic Unable To Walk Properly Confused

Lethargic unable to walk properly confused

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry your dog is not feeling well. From your description, it would be best to have your dog seen by a veterinarian right away. There may be a metabolic or neurologic problem causing what's going on, and they will be able to examine your dog and see what needs to be done for them. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Schnauzer

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12 Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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Redness

I gave my dog the prescribed antibiotics last night and this morning and his whole body’s has now turned red. The meds were given to him for what the doctor said was an skin infection.

July 18, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It sounds like he may be having a reaction to that antibiotic if everything is turning red. It would be best to not continue that antibiotic, and call your veterinarian as soon as they open on Monday morning. They will be able to figure out another antibiotic if needed, or treat him for what is going on. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 18, 2020

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Sadie

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Husky mix

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Six Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

My female husky was prescribed cefpodoxime for a bacterial infection on the skin around her paws. Approximately 1 to 1.5 hours after she had her first dosage, she had what was either a head tremor or partial seizure, two of them in about 20 minutes. I rushed her to emergency; however, blood work and CT scan did not indicate anything abnormal. She continued to have tremors/seizures for the following 3 days. She was then put on metronidazole, prednisone and Keppra. If she had experienced an allergic reaction to the cefpodoxime after only 1 pill, is it possible that her reaction may have lasted a few days (tremors/seizures)? Of note, this all occurred within the week after being at a dog kennel for the very first time (both female and male dogs came home with bacterial paw infections and giardia; female also had the tremors/seizures - still going through tests to determine why).

Sept. 4, 2018

Sadie's Owner

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Star

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American Staffordshire Terrier

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Itchy&Moping

My dog was given Doxycycline 100mg to take twice a day for treatment of possible Kennel cough and rash which was separate from his little hack he had for a few days. On the 7th day he broke out in hives and areas were red and itchy. Would this be from the medication?

Aug. 9, 2018

Star's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Generally we normally see adverse reactions / side effects within a few hours or a day of starting treatment but in theory they may occur at any time; hives are a possible side effect of doxycycline. You may give Benadryl at 1mg/lb to Star to see if it improves the hives; there is no drug interaction between doxycycline and Benadryl. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 9, 2018

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Max

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Blue Heeler

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8 Weeks

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Lethargy
Floppy Ears

I gave my puppy 1 dose of antibiotics about 150mg his ears became slightly swollen and he simpered for a while u til he went to sleep, this morning his ears are not swollen but they are floppy and he just isn’t himself he did eat and drink a little and he has peed several times and had a good poop how long until he comes back to his happy self and his ears stand up

June 29, 2018

Max's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Max, what antibiotic he is on and why he is on it, I'm not sure that I can answer your question, but if he has been seen recently by a veterinarian to give him the antibiotics, you should be able to call them and ask how long it should take before Max is back to normal.

June 30, 2018

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Coco

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Chihuahua

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Ataxia

My dog Coco vomited and aspirated some of it so I took her the the vet and after doing xrays they gave her Cerenia Injection, Clavulox Injection and Amoxyclav tablets to take for 2 weeks. Within 36 hours of having antibiotics she started having hind leg ataxia. Could the antibiotics be the cause. She did not have any ataxia before antibiotics. Completely healthy otherwise, has gone off food a bit but blood works came back fine.

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Alfie

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Pug

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Eye Swollen

My pug has been drowsy and swelling of eyes, he sounds like he is gargling a bit a few hours later after taking the antibiotics. He is even whimpering. I have googled everything and the vet has checked his eyes and doesn't know so I am thinking it's the clavubactin.

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Rafael

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Golden Retriever

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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Rash

Rafael was clipped by a car on 3/9, he had a very bad road rash on his leg. We took him to a local pet hospital,he was still walking normally and didn't appear to have any more serious injuries(thank god). The Vet trimmed and clean the area on his leg of hair to allow the wound to be exposed to air to heal. He prescribed 3 medications, Tramdolol 50mg, Metacam 1.5ml, Clavamox 250mg. He had a a hard time taking the pills the first few dyas and didn't eat. He is now eating normally but this morning we noticed a rash on his other leg. Could it be a allgeric reaction to the medications he is currently taking.

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Mikey

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Bullmastiff

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling

My dog Mickey went into the vet with his neck swollen on his right side and fever of 104. The vet said that he had an infection in his glands after checking him and ruling out a cyst. The vet prescribed him Cefopodoxine Simplice 200mg 2 1/2 tablets a day 1 time a day and Carprofen 100mg 1 tablet twice a day. It’s been 2 days and my dogs neck hasn’t changed and now his face has swelling on his right side as well. My dog is drinking a lot of water, and will not touch his dry dog food and is drooling more then usual. My vet can not see him until Monday and I don’t have the money to take him to the animal hospital after just paying a $275 vet bill. Can some one please help me.

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Oscar

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Mal-shi

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

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Breathing Difficulty

I had a 12 year old Shih Tzu/Maltese that had a cyst removed. The vet prescribed carprofen and clavamox. After two days he refused to eat or drink. After two days of not eating or drinking I took him back because I was worried. I told her that he is refusing to eat anything or drink. I asking told her that it sounds like water was in his lung and he would cough. She suggested getting an x-ray but I told her I couldn't afford it. She said why don't we try a cough suppressant and give him an injection of antibiotics since he won't take the pills. Next day he's still not eating or drinking and his breathing became worse. Next day was day number 4 with no food or water and still gasping for air with his rib cage expanded for each breath. I forgot to mention he had liver disease in the past but no yellow eyes at this time. Now after reading these posts I believe I killed my own dog from antibiotics!! I feel like total s$&@ and will never forgive myself. Do you believe he died from the antibiotics or is that the end stages of liver disease?

Antibiotics Allergies Average Cost

From 435 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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