Are Human or Online Non-Prescription Antibiotics Safe for Dogs?

Updated on July 17, 2019
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Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, former veterinary assistant, and author of the online dog training course "Brain Training for Dogs."

Non-prescription antibiotics online for dogs? Safe way to save money or no way?
Non-prescription antibiotics online for dogs? Safe way to save money or no way? | Source

Are Online Antibiotics Safe for a Sick Dog?

With the way the economy is, people are trying to cut corners as much as they can, and at times, pets are the first to suffer from these hard financial times. For some reason, Rover always appears to get sick at the wrong time, right when finances are really tight. But what can be done to avoid those expensive vet visits? A vet visit nowadays costs an average of $75 just for the physical exam. If we add expensive medications, dog owners can easily spend close to $200! This is not to mention the cultures, blood work, and x-rays that are often recommended.

Truth is, many dog owners are struggling to treat their pets, and more and more, they are trying to treat their pets at home. Good old home remedies for pets can be used, but unfortunately, there are times when these may not work and antibiotics are the only way to fight an infection. So what should you do in this case? Some owners may feel tempted to use some leftover human antibiotics forgotten in the medicine cabinet, while others prefer to purchase them online without a prescription. But is this something safe to do? We will evaluate this carefully.

Are Leftover Human Antibiotics Safe to Use for Dogs?

Many owners feel tempted to use those human leftover antibiotics, but are they safe to use? Truth is, there are many considerations to keep in mind. The following are some reasons why dog owners should avoid self-medicating their dogs using left over antibiotics.

  • Problems with dosages: Dogs do not weigh as humans, and therefore appropriate dosages may be hard to predict. Overdosing and underdosing are both serious problems that could lead to devastating effects. Dogs and humans weight differently and there are differences in medication strength and dosages. Ever wondered why veterinarians weigh dogs every time they come to the clinic? This most likely has more to do with medication dosages than assessing if a dog is obese or malnourished. Indeed, after the vet tech weighs a dog he or she notes it in the chart, and once the vet diagnoses the dog with a condition, dosages are conveniently based on the weight recorded.
  • Problems with relapses: Another potential problem in medicating a dog with left over antibiotics is the amount given. Several infections in dogs require antibiotics to be given for at least 7-10 days, if not more, depending on the type of infection. If owners are using left-over pills most likely there is not enough to give for a proper amount of time. This may lead to relapses, with the infection making a come-back for the worst if not treated properly. This is why antibiotics have a label noting ''Take as prescribed.'' Owners, therefore, should not have leftover antibiotics to start with, since in order to be taken correctly the whole bottle should most likely have been completely finished!
  • Problem with types: Different types of infections may require different types of antibiotics. While it is true that humans and dogs at times are prescribed the same types of antibiotics such as penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalexin and clavamox, it is also true that these antibiotics may be prescribed accordingly to treat specific types of infections. A type of antibiotic may not be able to effectively fight a certain type of strain of bacteria and this creates substantial problems. For this reason, vets at times perform diagnostic tests so to identify the type of bacteria they are dealing with and prescribe the most appropriate antibiotic.

Note: Having worked along with vets, I have gotten phone calls from dog owners asking if they could treat their dog at home with a certain type of antibiotic. Unfortunately, no vet would ever recommend a specific antibiotic without seeing the pet. This was not because the vet wanted to make money as many dog owners assumed, but simply because doing so was malpractice. A vet cannot legally prescribe a medication or diagnose a pet without performing a medical exam. Having your pet seen by a vet is in your pet's best interest.

Are Online Non-Prescription Antibiotics Safe for Dogs?

It is not uncommon for me to encounter dog owners who claim they purchase their dog's antibiotics over the internet without a prescription. How? This is a legit question since most dog owners know that a prescription is required in most cases in order for online pharmacies to ship out their antibiotics. Some dog owners have found some short-cuts by purchasing antibiotics for poultry in farm supply stores or online from online pet retail stores selling antibiotics for fish. By reading the reviews, actually, I even discovered some people admitting that they use the antibiotics for themselves!

Popular products sold are Aqua-Mox (Amoxicillin 500 mg), Fish Mox: Amoxicillin 250mg, Fish-Cillin (Ampicillin 250 mg) Fish Zole (Metronidazole 250mg) and Fish Fungus: (Ketoconazole 200mg). Of course, with such products, the same issues as using human leftover antibiotics apply. How much to give? For how long? What type of antibiotic is needed?

While the source of such antibiotics may be questionable, I have noticed that more and more dog owners have started to order these products for their dogs. While their dogs may be healing when given correctly, one must consider the degree of risk these online antibiotics may pose. Note the manufacturing company notes ''For use in fish only.'' My take on this is to avoid self-medicating pets with antibiotics as much as possible, for the reasons already mentioned above!

If your pet is sick, please have your veterinarian diagnose and treat your pet accordingly. There may be considerable risks associated with self-medicating dogs without a veterinarian's advice.

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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


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    • Paulart profile image


      8 years ago from 2510 Warren Avenue Cheyenne,Wyoming 82001

      Very informative Hub.I appreciate your work and i agree with your point.Keep it up.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      8 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I would never give my pets left over medicine..I can't believe people would do that...great hub.debbie

    • danieltiley26 profile image


      8 years ago from Amesbury, Wiltshire, U.K

      A very very good hub. This is a real problem, especially with the current economic climate. Thank you for writing this, have voted up and marked it useful.


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