Can I Give My Dog Cephalexin?

Can I give my dog Cephalexin?Cephalexin is an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections in humans that are responsible for things like upper respiratory infections, and skin infections, as well as urinary tract infections.

Most dog owners will likely be trying to treat their pet for a UTI with something like Cephalexin, and will have some left over from their last prescription and are wondering if it will work for their dog.

But even though some vets will prescribe it for some dogs, this doesn’t make it safe for your particular dog, and trying to dose them using a human medication often produces unwanted side effects that can cause them undue pain and suffering.


As the owner it’s pretty easy to take care of your dog because most of the time they will be fine, and it’s like they’re on auto-pilot. When they do run into a health problem that requires medical attention, your role is to get them in front of a vet so that they can be taken care of the right way and so they can get back to their normal healthy state just as soon as they can. When you start trying to take matters into your own hand and make medical decisions that you’re not qualified for, things can get dicey.

Can I Give My Dog Cephalexin? Answer: Only with Approval from a Qualified Vet!

If your dog does need to be treated with an antibiotic, giving them Cephalexin that you have on hand is not the way to go. If you suspect that they’ve got an infection that needs to be treated then this is cause enough to take them to the vet, or at least make a call to the vet’s office. That way the veterinarian can verify your diagnosis and advise you on the next proper step on how to properly treat them. This might be in the form of an antibiotic that is developed for canine use, or they may suggest letting things run their course.

The benefit of not treating them yourself and getting professional advice is that you’re off the hook as far as a guilty conscience goes. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you did the proper thing for your dog, and if the situation does escalate you won’t have that feeling in the back of your mind that you may have exacerbated things by medicating them at home from your medicine cabinet.

Doggy Drugs
There’s an entire industry devoted to making pharmaceuticals for dogs, and this is reassuring because the big drug companies that manufacture drugs for humans aren’t thinking about dogs when they are doing their testing and research and determining doses. That’s why it’s somewhat alarming to hear owners ask for dosages from the general public, and even more so when other owners chime in with dosages based on weight. The smaller weight of dogs compared to humans is only one of thousands of differences brought on by millions of years of evolution.

Side Effects
Cephalexin comes with its share of side effects, including nausea, stomach cramps, and dehydration, and that’s when it’s used by humans. The side effects of canine use are lacking research, but they definitely do exist, and there is anecdotal evidence from owners that have given it to their dogs and have seen that they don’t handle it very well. It’s simply not something that you want to give to them, as it likely won’t produce the effects you’re thinking it will, and might even worsen their situation. Many older dogs don’t take well to antibiotics such as this one.

Steps to Take
After speaking with your vet and getting your dog onto the proper treatment plan, there are other steps you can take to make sure that they recover back to full strength as quickly as possible. The first is to consider upgrading their dog food so that they’re getting the right mix of nutrients and vitamins.

This will make perhaps the biggest difference in their general well-being, and is one of the easiest things you can do for them. You can also try to determine what caused the problem in the first place, and alter their environment so they are not re-infected at a later time.

It can be rough seeing your dog in pain, but the best way to treat them is to put it in the hands of a well-trained professional.

Add Your Own Answer to Can I Give My Dog Cephalexin? Below


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim December 24, 2013

Most vets will insist Cephalexin is safe; however, this may not be true in all cases (especially for geriatric dogs). My vet prescribed this long term for my Akita and claims she had not seen side effects in dogs. I believe it may have contributed to anemia, dehydration and death. I wish I had stopped the medication.

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paul November 12, 2013

My dog was straining to pee and I took him to the vet. They charged me 165 dollars for 33 pills. He was on antibiotics for 3 days, going to the bathroom fine and I skipped one day by accident. Now he’s straining again so I started back on the pills.

My other vet use to give Keflex and it was much cheaper. These vets today just seem to want to clean your pockets. I would spend my last dime on my animals but these vets do nothing for less than a few hundred dollars a visit. That’s a bit much!

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James November 29, 2013

I agree with you Paul. Glad you are trying to do your research on here. Sometimes you can avoid a vet visit, sometimes it is prudent to go. I hope your dog’s urinary problem has improved.

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