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Applying neosporin to a dog‘s injury

The essentials

  • Neosporin is best for small scrapes and cuts — Deep cuts, wounds, and burns, need veterinary care.
  • Avoid applying on lickable areas — When ingested, Neosporin can cause gastrointestinal upset and can be toxic in large amounts.
  • Veterinary alternatives may be a better option — Many prescribed veterinary alternatives offer a safer and more effective option for dogs.

If your dog is the rough-and-tumble type or likes to spend time outdoors, you’re likely to deal with cuts and scrapes. But before you reach for any topical medication to help your pup heal, you want to make sure you’ve done your homework. Many topical antibiotics like Neosporin can only be used in certain ways with pets.

While we tend to reach for Neosporin for our own wounds, many of us ask: Can you use Neosporin on dogs? Here’s everything you need to know about how to use Neosporin safely on your pup.

Always use Neosporin with vet guidance

Neosporin is great for treating minor cuts and scrapes on humans, but when it comes to your dog, you should always consult your veterinarian. Neosporin should not be used on all types of wounds, especially deep cuts that are bleeding excessively, burns, or around the ears or eyes.

Neosporin contains three different types of antibiotics to help prevent infection:

Some Neosporin even includes pramoxine, a topical anesthetic used to prevent itching. Together, they kill bacteria and form a protective barrier against further infection. Neomycin has been linked to hearing loss in human use, so its usage must be carefully supervised with pets.

Keep an eye out for adverse reactions when using Neosporin. These symptoms are red flags of potential complications and toxicity. You’ll want to watch for:

  • Gastrointestinal upset. Ingesting Neosporin can cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. Loss of appetite can be a precursor to other symptoms. This may occur due to the lubricant or disruption to the gastrointestinal flora.
  • Tremors or seizures. In severe cases, ingestion may lead to tremors or seizures.
  • Skin lesions. Adverse reactions to a medication can cause skin irritation or skin lesions.
  • Excessive drooling — An allergic reaction or upset stomach can trigger excessive drooling in dogs . They may also exhibit loss of appetite or changes in behavior.

🚨 If you notice any of these symptoms, call the Pet Poison Hotline (855) 764-7661 or your vet immediately.

Situations where topical antibiotics are needed

Typically, you only want to use Neosporin (or generic triple antibiotic ointment) on minor scrapes, cuts, and scratches. In any of these cases, a small amount of Neosporin on the affected area is generally okay for a dog.

While you can use topical antibiotics on paws, ears, skin, and hotspots, be sure to avoid applying cream anywhere your dog can easily lick. Dogs can generally lick their nose, snout, paws, legs, and genitalia, so take extra care when treating these areas and call your vet if you’re unsure how to treat them best.

Also, consider putting a cone on your dog after you apply the ointment. Also again note not to put in eyes or ears. And reiterate that veterinary products are safer and more effective, but in a pinch, Neosporin should be ok.

Dr. Liza Cahn

More serious injuries

As a general rule, your veterinarian should always be consulted after your dog gets injured beyond a minor injury or cut. Open wounds can cause serious problems if not properly treated.

Puncture wounds from a stick or nail can force harmful bacteria deep into the skin, where a topical antibiotic ointment can’t help it. These require special treatment from a veterinarian. If your dog has been in a scuffle with another dog or cat, you should also take them to the vet, as dogs harbor numerous bacteria in their mouths that can easily cause infection.

🚨 All bites, deep cuts, burns, and open puncture wounds require immediate vet visits.

Dog owners should always watch their pups for indications of a more serious injury. Symptoms may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Excessive redness or swelling around the dog’s wound
  • Whining or shaking pain
  • Wobbly legs or loss of the ability to stand
  • Difficulty breathing, disorientation
  • Bleeding from mouth, nose, or eyes
  • Vomiting

Risks and dangers of using Neosporin on dogs

Food or not, most dogs will lick anything . It’s not because they are looking to get sick or ingest harmful things. Dogs interact with the world differently than humans, and licking is just part of their normal behavior.  If your dog ingests a small amount of Neosporin, it’s generally fine and doesn’t require any medical intervention. But, there are some things to be aware of with Neosporin.

Licking wounds

Dogs like to lick their wounds. But despite the myths about a dog’s tongue being cleaner than your mouth, unfortunately, licking a wound isn’t good for a dog . It can lead to more irritation, infections, hotspots, and reopening of wounds. Putting Neosporin on a wound may encourage licking.

👉Avoid using Neosporin, Vaseline, or hydrocortisone to treat hot spots. Hot spots warrant a vet visit, where dogs can receive proper treatment and a cone to prevent licking until they heal.

Allergic reactions

Some dogs may develop allergic reactions when using Neosporin. You’ll notice symptoms similar to dermatitis, like redness, itching, hives, and swelling. It can be hard to distinguish between itchiness and general discomfort from the injury itself, so if there’s any confusion, it’s a good idea to seek a veterinarian’s help.

Risks of ingestion

If your dog has licked a small amount, don’t panic. A small amount won’t typically harm your pup. Antibiotics can disrupt the natural microbiome in stomachs. Ingesting Neosporin can do the same thing, causing gastrointestinal issues in your dog and leading to vomiting and diarrhea if they consume too much.

🚨If your dog has accidentally eaten a lot of Neosporin (or ingested the packaging), immediately seek medical attention by calling your veterinarian or Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435.

Alternatives to Neosporin

Generic Neosporin is typically called a triple antibiotic ointment and contains the same three main ingredients as Neosporin. If you are looking to avoid using Neosporin, the generic brand isn’t any different.

However, there are a few alternatives available for treating minor wounds and small cuts. Just like with Neosporin, introducing any topical cream or ointment to a dog without checking with a vet is dangerous.

  • Polysporin and bacitracin. Polysporin and bacitracin are similar products that help with pain relief and the healing process. These antibiotic creams may be safer for dogs than Neosporin because they lack neomycin, but they both carry similar risks when ingested.
  • Veterinarian-approved topical treatments. Common topical antibiotics prescribed by veterinarians include mupirocin and nystatin combinations , among others, like ointments, sprays, and wipes. Mupirocin is an antibiotic cream used to treat infected wounds. Nystatin combination (also known as Panalog or Animax) is a topical antifungal combined with other medications commonly used to fight minor skin or ear infections.
  • Natural remedies. Manuka honey can help prevent infections. Veterinarians sometimes use honey for wound care. Honey can be applied directly to small wounds as a protective barrier or on bandages to limit bacterial infections.

Applying Neosporin to your dog’s injury

Before reaching for Neosporin, call your vet about your dog’s wound to see if it’s appropriate. They may recommend a different type of treatment based on the wound’s size, location, severity, and any other health conditions they may have. Your vet can also tell you how often to apply it and if any other steps are necessary.

🚨 If your dog is bleeding from a wound, you should avoid applying any creams or ointments. Depending on the severity of the bleeding and the wound, you’ll want to seek veterinarian care.

1. Help get your pet comfortable

Find a quiet and comfortable space to help keep your pet relaxed while you tend to your dog’s wound. Your dog may feel anxious or uncomfortable if they are wounded, so you’ll want to reassure them. Try to distract them by giving them treats while you clean and prep the wound.

2. Gently clean the wound

Gently remove any excess dirt or debris from the dog’s wound using warm water . You may need to use clippers to shave the hair around the small wound. Do not use scissors.

After flushing the area, gently dry it with a clean, soft cloth. Your veterinarian may recommend applying ointment, especially if it’s in an area they can reach.

🚨 Never use soaps, shampoos, hydrogen peroxide, or any type of product to clean an open wound unless directed to do so by your vet. Avoid bandaging unless specifically directed to by your vet.

3. Avoid sensitive areas

Apply Neosporin to the wound, avoiding sensitive areas like the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and other areas where your dog can lick. If your dog has a wound in one of these areas, it’s best to contact your vet for advice.

4. Do not let them lick the ointment

Dogs are naturally inclined to lick their wounds. If they have a wound in one of the areas they can reach, it’s best to avoid applying antibiotic ointment and call your vet. If they’re allowed to lick the ointment, it can lead to gastrointestinal issues and another trip to the vet.

In general, while Neosporin is typically considered safe for dogs, it should only be used on minor cuts, scrapes, and wounds. And if you have any questions, always reach out to your vet. They’re there to help!

Frequently asked questions

What antibiotic ointment is safe for dogs?

The only truly safe antibiotic ointment for your dog is one prescribed by a veterinarian.

How often should Neosporin be applied to a dog’s wound or cut?

Use Neosporin as directed by a veterinarian. Typical use is a small layer on the cut or scrapes 1 or 2 times per day. Extended use of antibiotics can lessen their effectiveness.

What happens if my dog licks some Neosporin?

If your dog licks a little bit of Neosporin, they will usually be okay. You can prevent this by avoiding applying it to areas that can be easily licked. If they ingest a lot of Neosporin, you’ll want to contact the Pet Poison Hotline (888-426-4435) since it can be toxic.

Can I use triple antibiotic ointment on my dog?

It’s typically fairly safe to put Neosporin or other generic triple antibiotic ointment on dogs, but make sure it’s in an area they can’t lick. Speak with your veterinarian about what’s best for your dog and their wound.

Can I put Neosporin on my dog’s spay incision?

No, you should not put Neosporin on any incisions, including spay incisions, unless your veterinarian directs you to do so.

Can Neosporin be used on dogs with stitches?

No, you should not put Neosporin on stitches without being directed by your veterinarian.

Can I use Neosporin on a dog hotspot?

No, you should not put Neosporin, Vaseline, or hydrocortisone cream on a dog’s hotspot. Hot spots should be treated by your vet using other topical medications and a cone.