If your dog has one of several infections, your veterinarian may prescribe Cephalexin for his condition. But is the drug safe? How much is too much of this antibiotic? Before you worry if Cephalexin can kill your dog, learn about proper usage, potential side effects, and when to consult your vet.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved Cephalexin for humans and dogs. In rare cases, cats can take the meds, too. In this guide, we’ll look at Cephalexin dosage, what the drug is used for, and what dosages are considered unsafe for dogs.
Before you read this guide, “Can Cephalexin Kill My Dog,” check out: Can Imodium Kill a Dog? Proper Imodium Dosage for Dog! (2023) and Can Melatonin Kill a Dog? (2023).
What Is Cephalexin?
Cephalexin is an antibiotic for humans and dogs. It’s used to treat several bacterial infections, including infections of the:
- Urinary tract
- Respiratory tract
The medicine comes in a few forms, so your doctor or vet may prescribe a liquid, capsule, or tablet. The pill form is most commonly for dogs because it’s easier for them to take. We’ll talk a bit more about how to administer the meds to your dog later in this guide.
Cephalexin goes by a couple of other names including Keflex or Rilexine. Both are the same, and Cephalexin is the generic name for the drug. Generics may be slightly less expensive than name-brand drugs, and their efficacy will be the same.
You should store your Cephalexin in a cool, dry place away from kids and pets. You should not have extra pills, but in the event that you somehow do, dispose of them through your community’s drug take-back program.
Cephalexin Side Effects
Cephalexin doesn’t usually carry a lot of adverse side effects. However, in rare cases, your dog may experience one or some of the following:
- Tummy pain, including vomiting and diarrhea
- Genital or rectal itching
- Joint discomfort
- Agitated behavior
The side effects of the antibiotic typically aren’t serious, and some can be mitigated if you avoid giving the meds to your dog on an empty stomach. Make sure your dog has plenty of water, too!
Once you’ve given your dog the medicine, monitor him for severe signs of distress, which may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the tongue, lips, eyes, or face
- Fever or other signs of infection
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
Should any of the more serious symptoms present themselves, you should call your vet immediately.
What Is the Correct Dosage of Cephalexin for Dogs?
Your vet will prescribe a specific amount of Cephalexin based on your dog’s condition, breed, and weight. The pills come in 75, 150, 300, and 600 mg dosages and you will need to discuss the proper treatment for your dog’s unique needs.
Tablets given to dogs are generally just chewable tabs, but dogs can be stubborn. If your dog doesn’t want to take his medicine, you can use one of these methods to be sure he’s getting his treatment.
First, you can open your dog’s mouth with your hands, drop the pill as far back onto his tongue as you’re able, and then use your hands to close your dog’s mouth.
That’s not always a preferred method, though, as dogs don’t seem to love it. If you like, you can hide the Cephalexin tablet in some peanut butter and administer it that way.
Finally, if all else fails, purchase a pack of pill pouches for your dog. These yummy treats feature a pocket you can slip the pill into. Your dog will take his medication easily and will be none the wiser.
Can Cephalexin Kill My Dog?
In a word, no. Cephalexin can’t directly kill your dog. However, while the drug is safe, it may carry side effects that can ultimately be fatal.
First, if your dog is allergic to β-lactam medications, he may be allergic to Cephalexin. Serious reactions can occur, and may ultimately lead to death. If your dog has never taken Cephalexin before, monitor him closely. Call the vet at the first sign of a serious reaction, and don’t give him any more of his meds.
Second, diarrhea is a common side effect of any antibiotic. In the absolute worst case, colon inflammation and diarrhea can be fatal so, again, it’s important to watch your dog.
That said, it is possible to overdose on Cephalexin. The first symptom of overdose you’ll notice will most likely be vomiting. Internally, though, your dog may be experiencing trouble with his kidneys or his nervous system.
It’s difficult for a dog to overdose on Cephalexin unless he’s somehow gotten ahold of the whole pill bottle. If you suspect this is the case, call your vet immediately, or contact an animal poison control center.
Here are the telephone numbers for poison control:
Cephalexin Dosage Chart
Your veterinarian will prescribe an appropriate dosage of Cephalexin for your dog based on his weight and the condition he is suffering. If you’re just curious, however, there’s a formula you can use to determine how much is appropriate for your dog.
Vets typically prescribe between 10 and 15 milligrams of Cephalexin per pound of body weight. So, let’s say you have a 50-pound Poodle. 10mg to 15mg x 50 pounds = 500 to 750 mg of Cephalexin.
As mentioned, Cephalexin pills come in tablets containing 75, 150, 300, and 600 milligrams. Get clear instructions from your vet, and be sure you read the pill bottle and information sheet.
Frequently Asked Questions
Has your vet prescribed Cephalexin for your dog? Take a look at the following frequently asked questions about this antibiotic medication for more information about your pet’s meds.
When taken correctly, Cephalexin isn’t toxic to dogs. It’s often prescribed to treat a variety of infections, including infections of the skin, respiratory tract, urinary tract, and more.
However, if your dog has taken too much of this drug, call animal poison control or a vet. In some cases, too much Cephalexin can cause kidney or nervous system damage. Additionally, excess amounts of the drug may cause severe diarrhea and colon issues which can turn fatal if not treated.
Nope, this is a dosage that could be prescribed for any medium-sized dog. Vets typically prescribe 10 to 15 milligrams of this antibiotic per pound of body weight. Therefore, a 50-pound dog should have no trouble handling 500 mg of Cephalexin.
Your dog should take precisely the amount of Cephalexin prescribed by your veterinarian. She will base her prescription on the weight and breed of your dog as well as the condition being treated.
However, there’s such a thing as too much of this (or any) drug. If your dog has taken more than his prescribed dosage, please call the vet immediately.
Be sure to keep this and all drugs out of reach of children and pets. Lock the pills away in a cool, dry place, and discard unused pills in a responsible way. Hide them in dish soap before disposing of them, and contact your municipality for drug take-back programs.
First, verify that your dog is deceased. Too much medication can cause lethargy and difficulty breathing due to swelling of the throat and airways.
Whether you determine that your dog is deceased or not, call your vet immediately. If it’s after hours, contact the animal poison control center.
To the best of your ability, you’ll need to know how much Cephalexin your dog ate, their weight and breed, and any other medications your dog is taking.
Cephalexin, when taken correctly, is safe for dogs of all breeds — and for humans, too. But if for some reason you prefer an alternative, like if your dog has a β-lactam allergy, there are alternatives.
Cipromax, penicillin, tetracycline, and other drugs may be prescribed for your dog’s condition if your vet deems an alternative necessary.
Conclusion for “Can Cephalexin Kill My Dog”
Cephalexin is FDA-approved for use in humans, dogs, and sometimes cats. It’s an antibiotic medication that’s safe for pups, provided that you follow dosage instructions carefully and store your medications out of reach of your dog.
Can Cephalexin kill your dog? Well, in short, probably not. Just remember that too much of any drug can be toxic to your animal. If you suspect your dog has taken too much of the medication, monitor him and contact your vet immediately.
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Learn more by watching “How Much Cephalexin Can You Give a Dog?” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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