Can Neosporin Be Used On Dogs Or Is It More Trouble Than It’s Worth?

Last Updated on September 7, 2021 by Marco C.

We are used to treating all injuries with ointments but should we do this for our pets? Can Neosporin be used on dogs or is it more trouble than it’s worth? After all, dogs’ bodies are supposed to be significantly more resilient than ours, right? And there are usually lots of scratches under their fur we don’t even notice. Plus, human medicine is probably not recommended for animals and vice versa, right?

While it is true that dogs are harder than humans, they too can sometimes get hurt pretty badly. And while it’s also true that it’s best to use pet-specific medications, sometimes you just don’t have that easily available. In those cases, treating your dog with Neosporin isn’t always the worst idea.

Can Neosporin Be Used On Dogs?

It technically can, but a lot of care should go into it. Neosporin is neither made nor intended for canines, so it does have a few drawbacks that we’ll list below. However, if it’s for skin-level use only, if your dog has no skin allergies if you call your vet and they agree, and if you can stop your dog from licking the ointment – then, yes, Neosporin can be used on dogs.

Those are quite a few “Ifs”, however. So, let’s examine all of them in detail.

Is There Anything Inherently Toxic For Dogs In Neosporin?

For skin-level use only – not really, everything that’s in Neosporin should be safe for your canine. One of the three antibiotics that make up Neosporin – neomycin – has been linked to hearing loss in both cats and dogs. However, This problem seems only present with intravenous use and not with skin ointments like Neosporin.

For that reason, it’s typically advised to avoid using this product unless you (and your vet) are sure that it’s necessary.

What Is Neosporin Made Of?

Aside from neomycin, Neosporin is made out of two more antibiotics – bacitracin and polymyxin B. All three are designed to work together for the removal of bacteria and other contaminants from the skin, thus preventing infections.

All three of those antibiotics were designed for use on humans which is why they aren’t recommended for pets. Yet, with the exception of the hearing loss problem after the intervenous use of neomycin we mentioned above, none of the three antibiotics have shown any problems when safely applied to the skin of dogs.

Why Isn’t Neosporing Always Recommended For Dogs?

There are many factors that play into this. The main ones being:

  • It’s not made for dogs so it’s not recommended for dogs. The medical community generally (and wisely) suggests that human and animal medications never be mixed.
  • The hearing loss issue that’s associated with neomycin.
  • Dogs often don’t tolerate ointment placed on their skin – they have a very strong instinct to lick everything off. This can be a problem as the lubricant in the ointment can cause diarrhea. Additionally, the antibiotics can impact your dog’s gastrointestinal flora (gut bacterias) in a nasty way and also cause diarrhea and vomiting.

Most serious wounds will necessitate the eventual trip to a vet anyway, regardless of whether you dress them up or not. So, if you have a vet nearby, the much safer bet is to just go there immediately.

Can Neosporin Be Used On Dogs Safely If Your Vet Has Given You The Go-Ahead?

Ideally, the wound and treated area will be in a place that’s inaccessible to your dog’s mouth. Life is usually not that easy, however, and dogs can easily reach most spots on their bodies.

So, to prevent licking and ingestion you can do either – or preferably both – of the following:

  • Dress up the wound in a sterile bandage. This will both keep the wound even safer from external contamination and it will prevent your dog from licking it. The only problem is that your dog will likely try to chew up the bandage too. This can not only make the whole exercise futile but bandages can also act as accidental tourniquets. If your dog chews the bandage up too much but doesn’t manage to tear it apart, the bandage may reduce the blood flow going to its limbs.
  • Get your dog in a cone of shame. Dog cones are one of most dogs’ least favorite items but they do prevent chewing and licking of medical ointments and dressings. This way, you can prevent your dog from doing almost anything to the wound.

cone of shame

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Can You Use Neosporin On Dogs For Deep Wounds?

For any wound that’s significantly deeper than just surface level, most vets would recommend that you don’t even bother with Neosporin but instead get the dog to a clinic immediately. No matter how much Neosporin you put on a deep wound, an immediate trip to the vet is still a must. So, it’s generally best not to risk using this humans’ ointment and let your vet take care of things.

If the wound is bleeding, washing it with warm water and soap to clean it up is recommended. After that, bandage it well to stop the bleeding as much as possible and get your dog to the vet.

Is Neosporin Safe For Dogs With Skin Allergies?

Allergic reaction to Neosporin is indeed possible. If you know that your dog has a history of allergic reactions, it’s recommended that you first apply only a very minor quantity of the antibiotic ointment to see if there is any reaction. Ideally, even if your dog has never had any allergic reactions you’ll still try to “sample” the Neosporin that way first.

This may lose you some time but you can do it on another part of the dog’s body while you’re washing the wound with soap and warm water. If there is no allergic reaction in the meantime, it should probably be safe to use Neosporin on the wound.

In Short, Can Neosporin Be Used On Dogs?

It can and sometimes it’s even a good idea. It is an antibacterial ointment, after all, so it can prevent an infection if you’re far from a vet. However, if you’re close to a vet it’s smarter to just go there. At the very least, you should always call up your vet first before you do anything.

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