When we get a boo-boo, we reach for a trusted antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin. But what about Fido? Is Neosporin safe for dogs too?
An open wound is like a welcome mat for bacteria. Scrapes and small wounds are at risk of infection, not to mention the fact that they will drive your dog nuts. They can’t help but lick and scratch, which can irritate the wound and slows the healing process.
Disinfecting and cleaning the wound will help it heal faster, leaving the skin moisturized and free of irritation.
The good news is that Neosporin is regarded as safe to use on dogs. This means that if your pooch trips and scrapes his elbow, that handy tube of triple antibiotic ointment you have in your bathroom cabinet will do the trick.
Before you slather it on, though, find out what it is and how to use it safely on your dog.
What is Neosporin?
Neosporin is an antibiotic ointment designed to treat minor external wounds. It contains three different topical antibiotics that kill bacteria and help wounds heal quickly:
- Neomycin (hence the name)
- Polymyxin B
Together these antibiotics are very effective at defending against a variety of bacteria, preventing infection and soothing discomfort. Neosporin is a great product to have in your first aid kit in case of emergencies.
The lotion-like texture makes it easy to apply and creates a protective layer over the wound to prevent bacteria from entering your dog’s body.
How to use Neosporin on Dogs
- The first step, before you even think of applying an ointment to the wound, is to assess the severity of the injury. Neosporin is designed for small scrapes and cuts or bug bites. Larger wounds, lacerations, or any wound that is profusely bleeding should be attended to by a vet immediately.
- If the wound is minor and safe to treat at home, then you need to clean the wound. Dirt and debris can irritate the surrounding tissue, so give it a gentle rinse with room temperature water to remove bacteria and gunk that has settled in the wound.
- Gently dry the wound before applying Neosporin. It’s important to note that Neosporin is dosed for an average adult human, so use it sparingly. You only need to apply a thin layer over the wound to be effective.
- If possible, wrap the wound. A foot or tail injury is easy for your dog to lick at, so try to prevent this if possible. Not only will your dog licking off the Neosporin be counter-intuitive to the healing process, but ingesting Neosporin is not recommended.
- Avoid using Neosporin on stitches or post-surgery wounds. Antibiotics are often given with surgery, so no additional wound care should be required. If you encounter post-op complications in your pet, it’s best to contact your vet for the best treatment options.
Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
We don’t deny that Neosporin is effective and generally regarded as safe in treating small wounds and scrapes, but there are risks to using a product designed for humans on your pet.
Firstly, your dog can have an adverse reaction to one or more of the ingredients in Neosporin. Mild reactions may present in the form of a rashes, inflammation, or itchiness. This will be counterproductive to the healing process.
It’s best to conduct a small patch test on another area of skin to determine if Neosporin is right for your pet.
Another consideration is ingestion. As we stated earlier, it is not safe for your pet to ingest Neosporin. Topical antibiotics can affect the healthy bacteria balance in their gut, leading to digestive upsets like diarrhea, flatulence, and poor digestion.
In addition to the antibiotics posing an issue, non-active ingredients like white petroleum that give the ointment it’s lotion-like texture can also contribute to tummy woes.
Knowing the risks, it’s time to consider if Neosporin is the best option for your dog’s wound and infection care. Neosporin is fine in a pinch but consider stocking your pet's first aid kit with something made for pets, or at least something that has fewer risks.
Pet-Safe Wound Care
Before we talk about pet-friendly alternatives to Neosporin, you should consider the easiest option of all, which is to do nothing.
Not every wound requires treatment. Have you ever gotten a paper cut, rinsed away the blood and went on with your day? Of course you have.
A minor abrasion like that is unlikely to become infected and will heal on it's own, but we err on the side of over-protection when it comes to our pets, just like we do with kids.
Sometimes, less is more. A dog’s healing ability is superior to ours. They heal better and faster than you do, so many minor scrapes or cuts will heal just fine without your interference. Nature usually knows best.
One of the reasons that dogs heal so well is because of their instinct to clean the wound by licking it. Their saliva contains some bactericidal properties that can help to control bacteria on the wound site. Though this is limited, it could be enough to manage minor abrasions. Their soft tongues can also remove debris from the wound.
Be cautious of how much they lick though. The healing powers of saliva can easily be trumped by the over-grooming process.
This doesn’t mean that you should never treat a wound, just that insignificant scrapes and bumps will likely heal just fine on their own. If you are not sure, call your vet and ask.
5 Wound Care Products for Dogs
If the wound does require treatment, then consider using a wound and infection product that is designed to be safe for pets. There are a lot of options, so we rounded up some of our favourites for you.
MicrocynAH Wound and Skin Care Hydrogel
The spray gel formula is made for easy application and bacterial control on minor abrasions, irritations, hot spots, and cuts. It claims to reduce healing times by up to 60%.
It’s free of alcohol, steroids, and antibiotics, so it’s even safe to use on post-surgical sites, and will not be harmful if your dog lick the wound after application. Furthermore, it is pH neutral, so it does not sting on an open wound.
Naturpet Healing Spray
This herbal extract antiseptic is safe and effective for cuts, scratches, and insect bites. The active ingredients are antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory.
This can reduce pain, swelling, prevent infection, and speed recovery. The spray format makes it easy to apply and limits your physical contact with the wound.
Adored Beast Apothecary Owies + Oopsies Topical Spray
With the power of homeopathy, Owies + Oopsies uses a carefully picked blend of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory botanicals to clean and heal minor wounds and abrasions.
In place of alcohol, Owies + Oopsies used witch hazel. This means it won’t sting when used on an open wound, and is safe if your dog licks the wound after application, though you should still discourage this behaviour.
True Leaf Natural Response Topical Gel
Another natural topical treatment, Natural Response gel, relies on the healing and antiseptic powers of oregano oil. Oregano oil is antifungal and antibacterial and can speed the healing process and soothe irritation.
Rosehip is also used for its provitamin A content, which promotes the growth and healing of skin cells to moisturize the area and aid in recovery.
Pet-Tek Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Though not marketed as a wound care product, coconut oil is a powerful product for soothing irritation and protecting against infection. Coconut oil is totally safe to ingest too.
Coconut oils antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties come from lauric acid. It can be applied to small cuts, wounds, rashes, and bug bites to heal the abrasions quickly and moisturize the skin.
Got any tips or tricks fro treating minor cuts on your pup? What's in your dog's first aid kit? Let us know in the comments below?