Plenty of things might cause minor cuts and scrapes on your dog: Rooting through dense brush, stepping on a sharp stone, or getting whacked by the family cat, for example. When humans experience minor scrapes, we tend to use Neosporin to prevent infection. Neosporin is a brand-name antibiotic ointment that is found in almost every household, and it’s perfectly safe for humans. But is Neosporin safe for dogs?
When your dog has a minor wound on its body or face, you might think of reaching for that Neosporin tube and applying a bit to the wound site. It’s important to make a few considerations before you do, though. Remember: Neosporin is a product made for humans, not dogs.
Is Neosporin safe to use on your pup? Read on for a closer look at Neosporin and its ingredients.
The Ingredients in Neosporin
Neosporin is made up of three different antibiotics: Bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B. These antibacterial agents work together to suppress the growth of harmful bacteria on the skin, preventing an infection from developing when we experience small cuts and scrapes. It also creates a physical barrier on the skin to prevent bacteria from entering the wound.
Those antibiotics do the exact same thing for your dog — kill off bacteria before they have a chance to grow and create a barrier to block much of the bacteria at the same time. But are the components of Neosporin safe for dogs?
Bacitracin has been cleared for use on animals — it’s a perfectly safe option for your pup. A 1989 study compared dogs who had been treated with the antibiotic after surgery to those who hadn’t received the antibiotic. Those dogs who received Bacitracin had far less infections and fewer positive bacteria cultures. So, this medication worked well for dogs.
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Neomycin is also effective for treating infections in dogs, but it comes with possible side effects. Hearing loss has been linked to the antibiotic when it is used intravenously, ranging from muffled hearing to complete deafness. In all cases, those hearing changes were permanent in the dogs who experienced them.
Is your dog likely to experience hearing loss from a small dab of Neosporin being applied to their skin? No, that would be essentially impossible. But it’s still something that should give dog parents pause when using a medication made for humans on their canine companions.
Derived from the bacterium Bacillus polymyxa, Polymyxin B is generally considered a safe antibiotic choice for dogs. It’s included in Neosporin as a “back-up” drug, used on top of other antibiotics in case they aren’t effective.
Some kinds of Neosporin, as well as other brands of antibiotic ointments, contain a fourth ingredient: Pramoxine. It’s a topical painkiller that helps to slightly numb the wound site and prevent itchiness and irritation. Pramoxine is considered safe for dogs as well and is often included in anti-itch sprays made for animals.
When to Use Neosporin on Dogs
So, the ingredients of Neosporin are generally considered safe for dogs. Does that mean you should apply Neosporin every time your dog experiences a minor cut or scrape?
A small amount of Neosporin applied to a very minor cut or scrape won’t be harmful. However, it’s not necessary to apply the ointment to every minor wound that your dog experiences. It probably won’t hurt your pup and can help prevent infection and make your dog a little more comfortable, but it’s not required.
Keep in mind that many dogs will simply lick the Neosporin off of the wound site after you’ve applied it. So, applying the ointment may very well be a waste of time. Plus, you don’t want your dog ingesting large amounts of Neosporin — swallowing a small bit probably won’t cause any harm, but you don’t want to risk anything more.
It’s also important to realize that some dogs might have an allergic reaction to Neosporin or one of its active ingredients. If you plan on applying Neosporin to your dog’s skin in the future, it’s a good idea to dab a small bit on a test area first, then keep an eye on it to see if inflammation, redness, or a rash develops. If it does, you’ll know that your dog is allergic — stop use immediately.
What to Do When Your Dog Has a Small Scrape
What should you do when you notice a minor cut or scrape on your dog’s body? Follow these simple first-aid steps:
- Wash the wound site gently with warm water to get rid of any debris.
- Apply a pet-safe antiseptic solution like Chlorhexidine to the area to kill off bacteria. Take care not to get any in your dog’s eyes or mouth. Allow it to dry before moving on to the next step.
- At this stage, you can apply a topical antibiotic like Neosporin if you want to. Again, your dog may promptly try to lick it off. Try to prevent this from happening for at least 10 or 15 minutes so the antibiotics have a chance to work.
- Keep a close eye on your dog’s wound over the next few days to make sure it doesn’t get any worse. Don’t let your dog lick or chew at the site, which would prolong the healing process. If the wound gets worse, call your vet right away.
Remember: The above steps are only for very minor injuries like small cuts or scrapes, nothing more. And it’s always smart to play it safe and call your veterinarian if you’re considering applying Neosporin or any other over-the-counter topical antibiotic to your dog. That way, you know whether it’s safe or something to reconsider.
Small scrapes and cuts can usually be dealt with at home, perhaps with a quick call to the vet’s office to make sure your first-aid methods are sound. But what do you do when your dog experiences a more severe wound?
Could it Be Food Allergies?
Did you know that the majority of food-based allergies are actually animal-based proteins? That’s right, your dog might be allergic to beef, chicken, pork, or other animal proteins in their food which may cause a lot of the itching and scratching you may have seen that led to the cuts/wounds you’ve noticed.
At Wild Earth, our mission is to make the healthiest dog food on the planet. Wild Earth is a Vet-developed food that is high in plant-based proteins, not animal-based proteins, and provides a complete source of nutrition for our dogs. In fact, in a recent study, 43% of dogs fed Wild Earth saw an improvement in itching and scratching, this is just one of the many benefits of a high-quality, clean plant-based protein dog food like Wild Earth.
More Serious Wound Care For Dogs
It’s a nightmare scenario for any dog parent: Their beloved canine companion limps back inside, bleeding heavily from a visible wound. What do you do when your dog suffers a more serious wound?
Examples of serious wounds include things like:
- Any open wounds that are bleeding profusely
- Puncture wounds
- Deep wounds or cuts
- Broken bones
The first step is to remain calm. It’s easier said than done, but becoming hysterical won’t help anyone, your pooch least of all.
If your dog is bleeding profusely, grab a towel and compress the wound area with it to help stop the blood flow. Next, call your veterinarian right away to let them know what the situation is and that you’re coming in for emergency treatment. Carefully load your dog in the car, do your best to maintain compression on the wound, and drive your pooch to the vet’s office for help.
Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs or Not?
Neosporin is fine to use on your dog for very minor cuts and scrapes — it can help prevent bacterial infections and can keep your dog from scratching, licking, or biting at the wound site while it heals. Make sure he or she doesn’t lick off the ointment after you’ve applied it, and your pup should be fine.
Remember: It’s possible for your dog to be allergic to Neosporin or its ingredients. Neosporin is not appropriate to use on other types of skin problems, like hot spots, rashes, or skin infections. And at the end of the day, Neosporin is a product made for humans, not dogs — it’s not necessary to use on your canine friend at all.
If your dog suffers any kind of wound that is more serious than a small scrape or cut, contact your veterinarian for help. It’s always best to play it safe.