A Guide to the Antibiotic Erythromycin for Use in Animals

Erythromycin is a narrow-spectrum antibiotic used by veterinarians to treat very specific types of bacterial infections in dogs, cats, and other animals. It is a registered drug that is only available with a prescription from a veterinarian.

Erythromycin for pets

Treating Infections With Erythromycin

Erythromycin is effective against certain types of infection, as the medication suppresses the protein synthesis and growth of bacteria cells, which eventually leads to the death of the bacteria. Common uses for Erythromycin in the veterinary field include the treatment of pneumonia, tick-borne infections like Lyme Disease, sinus infections, wound infections, skin infections, bone infections, and certain other types of bacterial infections.

Erythromycin is not effective against infections that are caused by fungi, viruses, or parasites.

Possible Side Effects of Erythromycin

Since Erythromycin kills bacteria, it may cause some animals to experience diarrhea, nausea, and loss of appetite. This is normal and usually results from temporarily disrupting the naturally occurring bacteria within the intestine.

If the animal patient experiences difficulty breathing, hives or skin rash, or a swollen face, tongue or lips, then be sure to contact the veterinarian immediately, as these signs point to the possibility of an allergic reaction.

Erythromycin Precautions

Erythromycin should never be administered to a patient with a known allergy to the medication. It should also be avoided in pregnant animals.

Erythromycin can be toxic to smaller animals like guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils and hamsters, and therefore, should not be administered. Similarly, this antibiotic should not be prescribed for cattle or adult horses.

If the animal patient is prescribed the oral suspension formulation, the medicine must be stored in the refrigerator until dispensed, after which it can be stored at room temperature for no more than 14 days.

Erythromycin Possible Drug Interactions

Erythromycin is safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian. However, if the patient is currently on other medications, it is very important to first discuss them with the veterinarian to prevent a possible drug interaction. Erythromycin may interact with such medications as clindamycin, lincomycin, tylosin, azithromycin, chloramphenicol, theophylline, and digoxin.

Conversely, drugs like rifampin and sulfa-class antibiotics will actually increase the effectiveness of Erythromycin.

How Is Erythromycin Supplied?

Erythromycin is available in a veterinary-approved formulation under the trade name Erythro-100® and in various formulations through veterinary compounding pharmacies. This medication can be compounded in oral suspension, tablets, capsules, ophthalmic solutions, and a range of other formulations.

In order for the drug to work as intended, it is essential to follow the prescription and complete the full course of treatment. If treatment is stopped before all of the medication has been administered, the risk of relapse increases.

Author: Giano Panzarella