Can I Give My Dog Cephalexin?

Can I Give My Dog Cephalexin?Cephalexin is a popular antibiotic used for treating bacterial infections in humans. Such infections include those affecting the upper respiratory tract, urinary tract and even the skin and bones. As a dog owner, you’ll want to know if this particular drug can safely work for canines as well.

Vets do prescribe Cephalexin but that doesn’t automatically make it appropriate for your particular dog. Many people consider using a leftover supply from a previous prescription, but providing antibiotics without professional guidance can result in negative side effects and/or ineffective treatment.

So while Cephalexin isn’t considered a very dangerous drug, it’s still important to administer it correctly. Taking matters into your own hands, when it comes to your dog’s medical matters, can prove to be a bad idea and this drug is no different. In any case, let’s take a closer look at the use of Cephalexin for pets.

Can I Give My Dog Cephalexin? Answer: Yes, with vet approval

If you suspect that an antibiotic is needed, using some of your own Cephalexin may not be the way to go.

The problem with providing this drug, without guidance, is that it really should only be used when you have good evidence for introducing it. Most infections require a proper diagnosis so they can be effectively treated. An infection is cause enough to take your dog to a veterinarian, or at least make a call to their office.

While Cephalexin is known to be well-tolerated, there may be more appropriate kinds of antibiotics which could be much more suitable. Alternatively, they may suggest letting things run their course. In any case, we don’t recommend taking it upon yourself to administer Cephalexin unless you have previous experience and are knowledgeable in this area.

Dosage & Key Info

If you plan to give your dog Cephalexin, there are some critical facts you need to know beforehand. If your best buddy has a history of kidney failure, seizures or allergies to similar medications then reconsider your plan and instead get advice from a professional. Also, never administer antibiotics to a pregnant or nursing dog. Typical dosage ranges from 10mg or 15mg for every pound of body weight, given every 8-12 hours but check with your vet first.

It’s very important to be consistent with dosing and timing since failure to do so reduces the effectiveness of this therapy. Also, you may find it is necessary to provide Cephalexin with food especially if your dog experiences diarrhea, vomiting or any nausea at any time during treatment. There are a long list of side effects associated with this drug which also is marketed under the names Biocef, Keflex and Keftab.

Cephalexin Side Effects

This name is an oral cephalosporin antibiotic which usually works well but sometimes there are complications. This is the case with all drugs which is why it’s best to have a good vet to count on. Some of the typical side effects that humans may experience can also affect a beloved pet dog. These can include nausea, stomach cramps and dehydration.

Other negative signs specific to canines may appear as panting or shortness of breath, swelling of the face or mouth area, excessive drooling, rashes, bloody stools and hyper-excitability. But in general, there is less conclusive information regarding the effects of Cephalexin as it applies to pets. It has been suggested that many older dogs don’t take well to antibiotics such as this one.

Conclusion on Cephalexin

Don’t go it alone by treating your dog using Cephalexin that you may have laying around. There could be superior treatment options available to your dog. Speak with a vet and get your four-legged friend treated the right way. Avoid making matters worse. The best way to handle an infection is to put it in the hands of a well-trained professional. If you do plan to go it alone and use Cephalexin on your dog, be sure to take precautions by learning as much as possible. In our view, it is prudent to keep your personal supply of Cephalexin out of reach simply because a proper diagnosis must form the basis for a full recovery.

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Karine July, 2016

The vet gave my pure breed Jack Russell a cephalexin prescription for a mild skin infection. My dog acted funny the same night with extra salivation and seemed too quiet for a 9 month old puppy. I didn’t know what was going on and I gave him another dose the next day before realizing it was killing him.

Another vet said the drug had attacked his nervous system and my dog died 4 days later. Do not give cephalexin to your dog, even if a vet is saying it is safe. She had warned me not to read or trust what was written online.


Orange Lee August, 2016

That’s so sad. My goodness, cephalexin for skin infection? I think that’s wrong. Amoxicillin can be used for that. Anyway, thank you for this information Karine.


David December, 2015

Not everyone can afford Cefpodoxime Proxetil, especially those of us retired. Cephalexin is an acceptable substitute to treat my dogs, and is affordable.


Pat October, 2015

My German Shepherd was given Neomycin and Cephalexin for perivulvar dermatitis. I tried sausage, chunks of chicken and hamburger to hide the capsules but she finds them. Can I open the capsules and put the powder contents in her regular dog food? I want to make sure she gets all her medicine.


Maryanne October, 2015

I have 2 GSDs and 1 has been given antibiotics extensively. You can open the capsules but the powder is usually sour and may cause your dog not to eat all of what you put it in. They have terrific noses. I use peanut butter that has no salt. Antibiotics tend to upset the stomach so most of them should be given with food. Good luck.


Lina August, 2015

I had a beautiful 8 year old Maltese and my vet gave her Apoquel as well as Cephalexin for her allergies. She was perfectly healthy other than the allergies when we left the office. In 3 days she was in such bad shape. I took her back in and they said she was in respiratory failure and heart failure. My vet states that the meds were not what caused her death. I am so heart broken because I’ve lost my dog with no answers on how to handle this. What do I do?


Charlie July, 2015

My dog was prescribed Cephalexin for a skin infection caused 100% by a barrage of vaccinations that hit him when he was young. The Cephalexin almost crippled him. He was then given Prednisone to overcome the effects. The Prednisone sent him into fatal kidney failure. A review of the New York Times, 1851 to 1920, showed that domestic dogs averaged longer lifespans before the arrival of organized veterinary medicine and its dangerous medications, all intended to loot the public pocketbook.


Wilburn April, 2015

I took my dog to see a vet for a pink rash and itching. The tech checked his heart beat. The vet came in and tried to lift my dog from the floor to the exam table by his collar. I stopped him and did it myself. No test was conducted but we were given a script for Cephalexin. The poor vet could hardly walk through the door, seeming to be unable to function. He allegedly gave my dog a shot. I held his head and front legs while he was supposed to inject. My dog always makes a noise when poked and has been unable to do blood test with previous vets because he’s too skittish. I waited and waited for a whimper, but he did not make a sound. I do not think he gave the injection. What should I do? He had no tests to confirm bacterial infection, etc. Please advise!


Chris April, 2015

I’m not an expert or anything, but after that I’d seriously consider talking to another vet.


Sandra March, 2015

We live in Malaysia and our 4 year old Golden Retriever is prone to hot spots, although she hasn’t had an episode in over a year until this weekend. 3 years ago she was prescribed an antibiotic and it very nearly killed her. Until yesterday I was so scared, I treated her only with topical ointment and medicated wash. We started Cephalexin last night and so far no negative reactions, but I’m still holding my breath.


Carolyn February, 2015

My dog had 9 lumps removed in her belly area and was spaded because they thought it was cancer. They put her on Cephalexin. That night she was panting so hard and was restless and kept trying to find a place to hide. I called and went to the vet first thing in the morning. He did blood work and her white blood count was up so he changed her antibiotic. Her panting was probably anxiety so he gave her Xanax.


Miranda January, 2015

My 10 year old Beagle, 9 year old Saint Bernard/Golden mix have been on this as well as my Chocolate Labrador off and on many times in her 7 years. None of them have had a single problem. Just like all medications there are possible side effects. I always monitor my animals when starting medications and if signs of something occur, then I take action.


Wendy April, 2015

Thank you for being the voice of reason here. Owners jumping to irrational conclusions was one of the worst parts of being a vet tech for years.


Lindsie December, 2014

This is scary. My dog just had a cyst removed and she was prescribed 500mg of Cephalexin to take twice a day with food. I came here to see what it’s for, thinking it was probably an antibiotic. What I read is alarming. I fully trust our vet, so I am going to continue to give it to our beloved dog, but I am definitely watching for the signs mentioned above in case she isn’t handling it well.


Denise December, 2014

My Lab mix was given this in 500mg to be given 2 time daily for Intervertebral Disc Disease. She also takes 2 different pain medications, 1 muscle relaxer and Prednisone. After she was on a full days dose I noticed heavy panting, she was also unable to be still and was really thirsty.

I stopped the drug after a Google search. It’s not even approved for animals! Sometimes you have to be in tune with your dog when they are taking new meds. Please research before you administer anything and do what you think is right. I am so sorry for those who lost their pet to this drug.


Noreen November, 2014

After reading these accounts I am worried. I have given two doses of Cephalexin, dose unknown as it’s not on the label. Within a half hour he is notably different in behavior (short breaths, pacing, unable to settle, seeking strange locations, tail between legs and jumping up on me as if to be soothed or somehow helped).

I’m not aware of diarrhea or blood in his feces at this point but will now watch for it. I’m holding back this evening’s dose until I can reach the vet in the morning. When they give you meds for pets they don’t come with the pages of side effects that human use does. Sorry to hear of the losses of your companions.


Jim November, 2014

These are the kind of symptoms that often can be associated with Cephalexin. I would stop giving it immediately. It is even more dangerous if you don’t know the dosage you are administering. If the vet tells you to continue despite the symptoms you mention above, I would look for another veterinarian.


Noreen November, 2014

I did talk to my vet who basically said these are not symptoms commonly associated with an antibiotic. He stated, “given we don’t know if he has a systemic infection” (no blood work was done), and he advised to continue with the topical ointment and we’ll see how it goes. Jim, thanks for your comments.


Connie October, 2014

Wish I had read this site before! My beloved Berner passed away on 10/13. He was 1 month shy of his 6th birthday. He had been on a this nasty drug 3 weeks prior to his death for an ear infection. The 4th week he was back at the vet for blood work and Anemia was the diagnosis. My Vet and an internal specialist told me Cephalexin was the #2 cause of internal bleeding. My boy was gone 5 days later. My warning to all, stay away from this drug!


Orange Lee August, 2016

I think it’s better to do research before giving any antibiotic to a dog. I have a 5 year old Labrador that had a liver infection. His urine had turned red, his eyes became red and he also didn’t want to eat. I did a lot of research. Here, in the Philippines, I don’t know if there are good experts.

Today is his 7th day of medication. He is active and seems okay. Others don’t care about your dog as much as the pet parent does. They tend to only give medicine without much further research. If the dog dies then it’s not their problem. I’m not expert, I’m not a vet but I saved the life of my dog due to research.


Barry October, 2014

We breed English Bulldogs and many times our vet has prescribed Cephalexin for my dogs. They never had any problems. I see that others have had severe problems and I am sorry to hear about that.


Stephanie April, 2014

My Boxer recently has what looks to be a spider bite or skin infection that is deteriorating his skin causing open lesions all over his shoulder, a new one everyday. I took him to the vet and for $110.00, for a 15 minute consultation, I was told she had never seen this before. Then I was given a script for 500mg Cephalexin two times a day. Is this really safe? After reading these comments, I don’t know what to do. Should I give it to him or not? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Terence May, 2014

I found some good information on a website called VetInfo which reads, “Natural antibiotics are an old remedy, used for centuries to treat infections in humans or animals. Regular antibiotics tend to destroy not only the bacteria that are causing infection, but also the bacteria that is useful in the organism (such as the bacteria that exist in the intestinal tract).

Also, long term use of antibiotics makes the harmful bacteria resistant to the active compounds, so the vet will have to prescribe stronger antibiotics. Herbs with antibiotic properties do not have the side effects of regular antibiotics and are, therefore, safer.

There are a number of herbal remedies with antibiotic effect. For skin infections, there are herbal remedies that can be administered as topical antibiotics: aloe vera, chamomile, golden seal, colloidal silver and olive leaves.”


Michael April, 2014

I gave my Shepard, Akita, Huskie mix this medicine. The vet had prescribed it. Every time he had a dose, the next day he would become sick, drooling, unable to get around, not wanting to eat, heavy breathing like he could not get enough air. This would pass and do to the fact that he would not take anything, even the medicine, he would get better in a few days by just resting.

In April of 2014, we gave him another does before we went to bed around 2:00am. When I woke for work at 6:00am he was starting to display the symptoms again. Upon returning from work he was still not better. He died around 5:30 to 6:00 pm. The next day we took his remains to the vet for cremation, and we talked about the symptoms he had.

Turns out, the internet talks about these same symptoms in other dogs and they ended up the same. Other vets also said they had never seen an allergic reaction with this medicine. We still say that is what killed Thunder the night before. This medicine should come with a warning to watch out for these symptoms. He was my service animal and my very best friend. I will miss him dearly.


Mary December, 2014

Vets need to stop giving animals this mess before it kills many more. It isn’t right to the owners who are trying to make their dogs better. We lost our dog last week from this med too.


Kathy January, 2016

My Springer Spaniel was put on Cephalexin for an infection caused by a dog bite. I trusted my vet knew what he was doing. Shortly after starting the medication, we noticed Bailee was restless at night and wanted to be as close to me as possible. Just recently, we noticed she was twitching all night and so I stopped the medication. I am so glad I did. Will give her a few days and see if the twitching etc. stops. Will also bring this issue up with my vet. Thanks for sharing.


Jim December, 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.


Paul November, 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!


James November, 2013

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


Sniff November, 2014

So after putting your dog back on the Keflex he seems to be fine again? How large is your dog and what is the dosage the vet gave him?


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