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What Are the Different Uses of Metronidazole for Dogs?

Metronidazole is often used to treat anaerobic infections in dogs.
Metronidazole is an antibiotic used to treat infections in dogs.
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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
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Different uses of metronidazole for dogs include treating infections and parasites such as Giardia. Metronidazole is an antibiotic and is most effective in treating infections categorized as anaerobic infections. These infections thrive without oxygen and can occur in deep wounds and in the mouth. Metronidazole is also effective in the treatment of canine diarrhea, pancreatic disorders and tetanus. While receiving therapy with this medication, the dog should be monitored closely by his owners and veterinarian for side effects.

Also known as Flagyl®, metronidazole is also used in humans to treat certain bacterial infections. It is available only by prescription. Although metronidazole for dogs is considered to be safe, it can produce side effects and should never be given to dogs who are pregnant.

Common side effects of Flagyl® for dogs include gastrointestinal upset, loss of appetite, and hypersalivation. In addition, persistent gagging, retching and pawing at the mouth may also occur. These side effects, however, are usually mild and temporary. Other, more serious side effects include profound weakness, diarrhea, and liver dysfunction.

Other important side effects of metronidazole for dogs include bloody urine, disorientation, and tremors. In rare instances, seizures can occur, as can severe muscle stiffness. Fortunately, these side effects are not typical when metronidazole is given on a short-term basis, and are only rarely seen when treatment is prescribed in high doses over long periods of time.

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Certain conditions may make it necessary for the veterinarian to prescribe metronidazole for dogs over long periods of time. An example of such a condition is a stubborn infection known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). During treatment for SIBO, toxicity may occur, and if it does, the medication needs to be discontinued immediately.

If the dog experiences toxicity from the antibiotic, hospitalization may be required. Since severe vomiting can be a symptoms of toxicity, intravenous fluids may be necessary to prevent dehydration. In addition, medications to relieve vomiting and anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed. Sometimes, when the offending medication is discontinued and the dog is re-hydrated, he recovers quickly and without long-term complications.

To determine if organ damage has occurred, blood tests might be recommended to check for abnormalities in kidney and liver function. In addition, it may take weeks for the dog to recuperate, and occasionally the prognosis of metronidazole toxicity is poor. When a dog is receiving metronidazole therapy for an infection and exhibits loss of appetite, disorientation, and difficulty walking, the owner needs to seek emergency veterinary care to reduce the risk of multiple organ failure and severe toxicity.

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bear78
Post 6

@ysmina-- Metronidazole is great for diarrhea. My dog has had several bouts of chronic diarrhea and he was treated with metroidazole each time. It works very quickly. Along with a diet of rice and meat, this antibiotic is probably one of the best treatments for severe diarrhea.

Of course, it should not be used long-term because of the side effects. We use it under veterinary supervision and only when really necessary.

ysmina
Post 5

@MikeMason-- It's not very common but if metronidazole can be given for canine diarrhea, I suppose it could be given for gastro-intestinal problems in general.

I think metronidazole has benefits for inflammatory diseases like colitis or inflammatory bowel disease in dogs.

stoneMason
Post 4

Is it normal for a dog to be given metronidazole for food sensitivities and stomach upset?

irontoenail
Post 3

I've had an animal accidentally lick something that caused the symptoms of pawing at the mouth and gagging a little bit and it can be very scary, because it's hard to know what is happening. Luckily for me we were actually at the vets at the time and they reassured me it was nothing to worry about.

croydon
Post 2

@Mor - Well, I think it's likely that a lot of dogs do have giardia and their owners just don't realize it. The symptoms aren't always that obvious, particularly if you aren't looking for them and some people might even know their dog has a stomach upset and not worry enough to take it to the vet to get medication.

Also, it's totally within a person's power to keep their dog away from fresh water sources. Every dog should be kept on a secure property anyway and can be kept on a lead when taken somewhere where that kind of infection is likely. This won't guarantee that they won't get giardia though, or another infection, but it can reduce the chances.

Mor
Post 1

I didn't even know that dogs could get giardia. They must get it a lot though, since I know that in some areas it's in all the water sources that don't come out of a tap. Every time you take your dog for a walk and he drinks from a local stream, he could get infecting himself.

Actually I knew that deer and other animals could get it, and that's how the streams become infected in the first place, so I guess it makes sense that dogs can get it as well. I just wonder how dogs can avoid it, since you can't really stop them from drinking from local water.

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