Rifampin for Dogs

Written By Grace Park
Published: 12/29/2020Updated: 12/29/2020
Rifampin for Dogs | Wag!

Rifampin (also known as Rifadin and Rifampicin) is used for treating bacterial infections. It is to be used as specified by your veterinarian. Called an off label medication, the directions given to you by the vet may vary greatly from the instructions on the label. It is very important to adhere to what the veterinarian prescribes for your dog.

This medication is used especially when there is the presence of multidrug-resistant staphylococci. One of the instances where Rifampin for dogs has been particularly helpful is in conjunction with topical medication for dogs suffering from pyoderma. Pyoderma is a bacterial infection of the skin that can affect multiple layers and is characterized by inflamed lesions and red pimples.
.Pyoderma is often caused by conditions like allergies, hormonal imbalances, parasites, immune-mediated diseases, and more.


The dosage will vary from case to case and by cause. Rifampin for dogs can be dispensed in varying forms. It is classified as a macrocyclic antibiotic and is widely distributed in the tissues and penetrates the cells well, to kill susceptible bacteria.

This drug is available in several forms and is not always palatable.

  • Chew treat (considered palatable for dogs)
  • Capsule¬†
  • Oral oil suspension
  • Oral paste (horses only)
  • Oral powder (horses only)
  • Oral suspension

Dosage Instructions 

The Rifampin chew treat (considered most tasty) and easy to administer to dogs comes in two strengths. Either the 40mg chew or 50mg chew may be prescribed.

The Rifadin (Rifampin and Rifampicin) Oral oil suspension comes in many flavors, including Bacon/Marshmallow, Chicken & Liver, Duck, Peanut Butter, and Triple-Fish. Three strengths are available. And range from 180 mg/ml to 210 mg/ml.

Your veterinarian will give detailed instructions on the administration as the above formulations may be much higher than is safely prescribed for your dog. 


A controlled study documented the effective treatment of canine pyoderma with a prescription of 5mg/kg once daily for 10 days. In another study, results, when treating pyoderma, were seen in 90% of dogs. The medication is effective within 2 to 4 hours of oral administration.

Efficacy will depend on the illness; although it is effective with pyoderma, results in a clinical study were inconsistent with treatment for ehrlichiosis. 

Side Effects of Rifampin

Although not many side effects are noted, you may see that the tears, urine, and saliva will have an orange tinge (specifically with the liquid suspension). Other side effects may be:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite

The most common side effect seen is liver toxicity. In this case, you will see the following:

  • Yellow skin, eyes, gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (possibly with blood)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Behavioral changes


The list of possible drug interactions is quite extensive. The veterinarian will have the entire list. As well, let them know of any alternative therapies, supplements, or vitamins your dog is taking.

Drug interactions

Rifampin for dogs (Rifampin and Rifampicin) may interact with medications such as the few listed below, among many others:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Azole antifungals
  • Barbiturates
  • Opioids
  • Praziquantel
  • Warfarin

Allergic reactions and sensitivity

Dogs with liver issues, as well as senior dogs who typically have reduced liver function, should not be given Rifampin for dogs. Pregnant and nursing dogs should not be given this drug as well.

Frequently asked questions

What kind of monitoring will the veterinarian do if my dog takes Rifampin?

Because liver toxicity may be an issue, your veterinarian may check the function of your dog’s liver before prescribing the drug. After 10-14 days, the liver may be monitored again and monthly after that until the treatment is finished. Remember to keep an eye on your dog. If you see symptoms like yellowing of the eyes, skin, or gums, vomiting, painful abdomen, or severe diarrhea, contact the clinic right away. Watch for behavioral changes and a painful abdomen also.

What should I do in the case of an emergency?

An adverse reaction to Rifampin may need emergency measures. Call the veterinarian immediately or head to the nearest emergency center if your veterinarian is not available. 

What if I miss a dose of Rifampin?

If you forget to give your dog the medication as prescribed, administer it at the next scheduled dose. If it is close to the next dosage time, skip it. Any time you are unsure, consult the veterinary clinic. Do not give extra doses or two doses of Rifampin at the same time.

Do I need a prescription for Rifampin?

Yes, a veterinarian will prescribe the medication and explain how to use this drug correctly, based on the health condition at hand.

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© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.