Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs?

Fluffy white dog laying on lounge

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If your dog has a scrape, scratch, or other external wound that you'd like to treat, you may be wondering if a product like Neosporin would do the job. Since it works so well on humans, would it work on your pup? Find out if this common cream or gel is okay to use on your dog.

What is Neosporin?

Neosporin is the brand name for a common topical antibacterial ointment that consists of neomycin, polysporin, and bacitracin which are different types of antibiotics. This is an over-the-counter medication, which means it does not require a prescription. This medication is meant to prevent and treat minor skin infections caused by small cuts, scrapes, or burns. It has no effect on infections caused by other foreign agents, such as a fungus or a virus. 

Can You Use Neosporin on Your Dog?

Neosporin is often used to treat minor cuts or skin infections in humans, which is often why dog owners think to grab it for their dog. As a general rule, it is best to not use medications on your dog without first consulting with your veterinarian. While Neosporin is considered safe for minor cuts and scrapes, it is not the best treatment option. Neosporin’s website also states, “we can’t recommend using these products on animals.” There are several products that have been formulated specifically for dogs. These products will be more dog-friendly than human triple antibiotic.

Is Neosporin Safe for Dogs? 

As mentioned before, it is recommended to contact your veterinarian first before giving any medications. 

When using Neosporin on dogs with a veterinarian's permission, remember to:

  • Apply a very small area first to check for possible allergic reactions: Symptoms of a possible allergic reaction can be redness, hives, and itching at the area. More severe side effects, which are rare, include trouble breathing and facial swelling. 
  • Only use small amounts: Neosporin is not safe for your dog to consume and when ingested, it can cause stomach upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
  • Use regular strength: Always opt for the standard strength option and avoid extra-strength varieties or ones with added active ingredients for pain relief. 
  • Avoid using in ears, eyes, and internally. 

Basic Wound Care For Your Dog

Accidents happen. Your dog's lively nature and curiosity may lead to cuts, scrapes, and punctures at some point in their life. When these accidents happen, it is important to know what to do. It can be difficult to determine the extent of the injury or what needs to be done to handle it. 

If the injury is beyond a minor cut or abrasion, you should contact your veterinary immediately.  Every dog owner should be prepared for an emergency that would require at home care. Keeping a first aid kit for your dog stocked and available is recommended. Here are the proper steps to making sure your dog's wound stays clean:

  1. If bleeding is noted, apply direct pressure to the cut to stop the bleeding. By applying pressure, this assists in the blood clotting and stopping the bleeding. You can use a gauze square or paper towel to do this. 
  2. Isolate the wound. Your dog may have more than one cut. Check your dog’s entire body including paw pads for injury. 
  3. Rinse the wound. This includes rinsing the area with warm water and/or saline to remove dirt, debris, and possible foreign material. This can be done with a large syringe that is included in most dog first aid kits. You want to avoid touching the syringe to the area as this can cause more irritation. Once you flush the area, you may notice that the cut is more severe than first looked. Often due to fur obscuring the wound, it can be difficult to assess how severe a cut in your dog is. If, after flushing, you see it is more than a small cut or abrasion, contact your veterinarian prior to going to the next step. 
  4. Clean the wound. Similar to rinsing it, use the syringe to flush the area with an antibacterial cleanser like chlorhexidine dicetate or providone iodine. Both of these items are usually included in first aid kits. When using iodine or chlorhexidine, they should be diluted with water prior to you using on your dog. Then, apply to gauze and gently blot the area. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds because it delays healing.
  5. Observe and monitor. Look closely at the wound to ensure its clean. If you see any dirt or debris, rinse again to remove. Leaving anything in the wound could cause infection. Monitor your dog’s cut thoroughly over the next few days or until the wound is visibly healing. If you begin to notice redness or swelling, or if there are particles you cannot remove, contact your vet. Taking a photo of the cut daily can be a helpful way to monitor how your dog is healing and can be shared with your vet.