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Keflex etc. (cephalexin)

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Treatment Type: Medications
Caregiver: Needs a Prescription from a Vet - then Do it Yourself

Keflex etc. (cephalexin) is an oral, semisynthetic broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic which is used to treat a wide variety of bacterial infections (e.g., skin, bone and genitourinary tract infections).

Cephalexin is broad spectrum, still has fairly low resistance and concentrates well in the urine. Keflex is usually given twice a day for 2-4 weeks.

Benefits of Keflex etc. (cephalexin) for Dogs

  • Cephalexin is considered a good first line antibiotic choice, often while waiting for culture results to come back.
  • Cephalexin is inexpensive.
  • Cephalexin comes in flavored, liquid form that most dogs actually like.

Drawbacks of Keflex etc. (cephalexin) for Dogs

  • Some dogs can be sensitive to cephalexin (just like in people) and have GI upset, but most do very well with it.
  • Because cephalexin is an old (it was developed in 1967), and very widely used antibiotic, bacterial resistance has occurred, and it might prove ineffective in some canine health conditions such as kennel cough.

Be Sure to Use the Full Course of Keflex

When treating infections it's very important to give the full course of medication that your veterinarian prescribes, not just stop when the dog seems better. Often times sub-clinical (present but showing no signs) infections will take off again when antibiotics are stopped too soon.

Here is a list of some of the most common dog health conditions for which Keflex etc. (cephalexin) is prescribed.

Bacterial Skin Infection (Deep Pyoderma)

Cephalexin is a good broad-spectrum antibiotic for treating bacterial infections such as those caused by Staphylococus and Streptococcus. It is used for bacterial skin infections that can't be managed topically. Cephalexin has a very broad-spectrum of coverage and works very well in most cases.

Bacterial Skin Infection (Superficial Pyoderma)

Cephalexin is an antibacterial drug that is very effective against most bacteria that cause skin infections. It is generally very effective in treating pyoderma and is also easy to administer because it comes in suspension form that is most often flavored.

In cases of demodicosis, skin infection with bacteria/yeast is a common complication. In localized cases, systemic antibiotics are usually not necessary because areas are small, infection is usually superficial and ointments will do the job just fine. However, in generalized cases, systemic antibiotics are often necessary, especially if deep pyoderma is present. Cephalexin is common first choice in these cases, it's effective against most bacteria that cause these infections and it's well tolerated by dogs. If your dog doesn't respond to treatment with cephalexin, bacterial sensitivity testing should be done as it might be infected with some resistant bacteria.

Keflex (Cephalexin) is a prescription medication that is very effective at treating bacterial ear infections in a dog. Cephalexin is an antibiotic that is popularly available in tablet or syrup form. It is usually given once or twice a day for several consecutive days, depending on the severity of the infection. Cephalexin is particularly useful against bacteria found in the ear, which makes it a popular antibiotic choice for bacterial ear infections. Side effects are minimal and it is affordable, convenient and easy to administer to a dog. However, if used repeatedly over long periods of time, it is possible for the bacteria to develop antibiotic resistance, making it more difficult to treat bacterial ear infections in the future.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Cephalexin works well against the type of bacteria that commonly infect the urinary system, especially caused by susceptible isolates of E. coli, Proteus spp., and Klebsiella spp. This bacteria generally comes from the skin. Urinary infections can be caused by different sources though and the only way to know which drug is going to be effective is a urine culture. Due to the time and cost of running cultures we will often start an antibiotic the day of examination if the dogs symptoms are consistent with a UTI. If treatment is not working then culture is critical. The primary sided effect with Cephalexin is GI upset. This does not happen very often.

Uterus Infection (Metritis)

Augmentin and Cephalexin are two antibiotics used as an empirical treatment for metritis, pending results of bacterial sensitivity testing. Augmentin is the better choice in my opinion as it is a newer anitibiotic to which there is less resistance, it's easier to use because it's dosed at 12h intervals, opposed to cephalexin which is used every 6-8h. Cephalexin is also safe for the nursing pups, which is very important given that metritis occurs few days postpartum (after giving birth).

Wound and Surgery Recovery

Cephalexin is a nice antibiotic that should only be used if indicated. For sterile surgeries with no complications, antibiotics are not needed. If there are wounds needing antibiotics, cephalexin is a great option. This is a capsule that is given twice daily. Just like any antibiotic, dogs can be sensitive and some may have vomiting or diarrhea after taking it.

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