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Azithromycin is a semi-synthetic macrolide antibiotic derived from erythromycin. It is most commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat certain bacterial infections. Azithromycin is a more popular choice than erythromycin in the treatment of dogs and cats because it has a longer half-life and is better absorbed by both species.

Conditions Treated With Azithromycin

Azithromycin is used by veterinarians to treat a wide range of bacterial infections in dogs and cats including streptococci, staphylococci, bartonella henselae, some species of Chlamydia, haemophilus spp, mycoplasma spp, borrelia burgdorferi and others.

The medicine works by binding to the P site of the 50S ribosomal subunit of those microorganisms that are susceptible to it, thereby interrupting the microorganism’s RNA-dependent protein synthesis.

Additional Veterinary Uses for Azithromycin

Azithromycin is a popular treatment option in veterinary medicine for many types of infections including dermatological infections, urogenital infections, respiratory tract infections and otitis media.

Possible Side Effects of Azithromycin

The most common potential side effects associated with azithromycin include gastrointestinal problems like abdominal discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea. Angioedema and jaundice can also result from taking azithromycin, although the chances are rare. More serious potential side effects can include cardiac arrhythmia, ventricular tachycardia and issues with renal function.

Drug Interactions With Azithromycin

The prescribing veterinarian needs to be notified of any and all medications your pet is currently taking before administering azithromycin because the drug can interact with other medications. Common contraindications include ergotamine, dihydroergotamine, triazolam, pimozide, cisapride or other macrolide antibiotics, oral antacids and any drugs metabolized by cytochrome P450 (e.g. cyclosporine, hexobarbital, phenytoin, terfenadine and carbamazepine).

Azithromycin Prescriptions

Azithromycin is only available with a prescription from a veterinarian. The trade name for the human formulation is Zithromax®, but the drug is available from compounding pharmacies in a generic tablet or powder form.

Author: Giano Panzarella

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