Chloramphenicol is a broad-range antibiotic used in veterinary medicine to treat bacterial infections in dogs and cats. This drug is also effective against some single-celled pathogenic organisms.

Infections Treated With Chloramphenicol

Chloramphenicol is only effective against bacterial infections, not infections caused by parasites, mites, viruses or fungi. It is typically used by veterinarians to treat skin infections, wound infections, bone infections, intestinal tract infections and pneumonia in dogs and cats. It is also effective against infections of the nervous system, like meningitis and encephalitis, as well as certain tick-transmitted diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

In many cases, Chloramphenicol is preferred over other antibiotics, as it has the ability to pass deeply through cell membranes and other purulent material to attack bacteria residing in places other antibiotics cannot reach.

Chloramphenicol Precautions

Chloramphenicol should not be prescribed to an animal with a known allergy to the drug or animals that are pregnant. It should also not be administered to very young animals or those suffering from abnormal bone marrow, liver or kidney failure or non-regenerative anemia.

While this medication is safe and effective for use in both dogs and cats when prescribed by a veterinarian, cats are more susceptible to experiencing adverse reactions and therefore need to be monitored more closely.

While rare, Chloramphenicol can cause aplastic anemia in some people if they are orally exposed to the medication. Therefore, it is very important to wash hands thoroughly after administering this medicine to your pet.

Chloramphenicol Possible Side Effects and Drug Interactions

Chloramphenicol may cause side effects in some animal patients, the most common of which include vomiting, diarrhea and lack of appetite. If the drug is administered in high doses over a prolonged period of time, a condition called blood dyscrasias can develop. This is when the body produces abnormal blood cells or normal blood cell development is halted. This condition is most common in cats.

Chloramphenicol can also interact with other medications the animal patient may be on. This drug should not be administered alongside phenobarbital, primidone, tylosin, phenytoin, cyclophosphamide or with other antibiotics like amoxicillin, clindamycin or erythromycin. Chloramphenicol can also interfere with vaccinations.

Chloramphenicol Formulations

Chloramphenicol can be obtained with a prescription from a veterinarian and is available in a wide range of formulations. Depending on the patient and the infection being treated, veterinarians can choose to have this medication administered via oral tablet, topical cream or ointment, injection or in an ophthalmic solution.

Author: Giano Panzarella