Managing Your Medicine Cabinet
Organizing your medicine cabinet by life stage may help you find what you need when you need it. We'll walk you through our strategies for moms, babies, deworming and emergencies.
Pregnant MomsKnowing what is safe for pregnant dogs and what is not can be the difference between life and death for their unborn babies! Moms are at a high risk until day 35 of gestation, meaning that you must be especially careful what medications you give during that time. After day 40, most medications that do not cause cramping are okay. The embryo implants in the uterus between days 18 and 21, and any inflammation during that time will decrease implantation.
- Doxycycline, Baytril® or penicillin are effective if strep is causing the infection. The risk of defects caused by us is greatest between days 21 and 35. During this time, puppies develop their organs and normal bone scaffolding – and you know how important those are for our growing babies!
- Sulfa (sulfamethoxazole) and metro (metronidazole) are the big drugs to avoid, especially because they cause cleft pallet between days 22 and 32.
- The last two weeks of gestation, it's okay to use most antibiotics, but only do so if mom's having an issue and you know the solution. For example, if she had mastitis with her previous litter, we use sulfa trimeth (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim), a helpful combination of two antibiotics that work together against E.coli in a single pill.
With newborn puppies, it's important to keep a few ages in mind as you consider medicines, as some of them damage growing tissues. Babies' livers and kidneys do not work well until they are six weeks old and are not fully functional until three months of age. This means that they're unable to clear drugs from the body as easily as adults. We don't want to damage kidneys that are still growing; that damage will be permanent!
- Drugs to avoid at this stage include gentamicin, which can cause severe issues in babies under four months, and sulfas such as Albon®, which should be avoided until at least four weeks (preferably six weeks).
- Be careful when using Baytril® or Enrofloxin, as these drugs stop cartilage development in babies' joints. Without that cartilage, we may end up with bones rub on bone, leading to lame puppies at only six months old. Never use these products for longer than five to seven days.
- While they're nursing, it's okay to use Clavimox®, amoxicillin and the cephalexin family.
- Convenia injectable is also used and works well.
- For puppies under four weeks, stick with the penicillin or cephalexin family.
- Over five weeks, most antibiotics are okay (except gentamicin and Baytril®; see above).
- Metro (metronidazole) works for puppies over four weeks, but it has a couple undesirable drawbacks. It sometimes causes a head tilt reminiscent of an ear infection; stop using the medicine, and this should go away in four days. Metro also causes depression in puppies, which is another drawback. Safe-guard® is a better choice if you're targeting giardia; use it for five days to treat or three days to prevent giardia.
Keeping parasites out of the pregnant and nursing mom is one of our highest priorities, but not all dewormers are pregnant safe!
- Stick with Safe-guard® or Panacur®, as they are safe and labeled for pregnant animals. They cover round, hook, whip and tape worms as well as giardia.
- Do not use praziquantel or tapeworm medications on a pregnant mom! They cause abortions in 20% of late gestation cases. While they do not hurt the embryos, they make mom cramp and send her into early labor.
- Almost all dewormers are okay for babies, with a few caveats. There is no reason to use tapeworm medications on puppies; stop the fleas on the babies, and you will stop the tapeworms.
- Start the babies with pyrantal at two and four weeks, and then at six and eight weeks, switch to fenbendazole. Changing dewormer families prevents roundworm resistance from developing.
- Coccidia should not be an issue until four weeks. Babies get coccidia from mom, and the parasite has a three week lifecycle; therefore, it will be four weeks before you should worry much about it. If you're seeing what looks like coccidia before then, consider other causes such as E. coli or campy (campylobacteriosis).
- Ivermectin is not a good dewormer for internal parasites, but it is effective against external parasites like mange, ear mites and lice. Wait to target external parasites using ivermectin until puppies are six weeks old or, better yet, get them out of your moms and they won't give to them to their puppies! Do not use these medications on collies, shelties or mixes with their genetics in them!
Keep your emergency kit simple – that way, you know you have everything on hand that you need.
- Include penicillin and sulfa trimeth for sure, as they are broad spectrum and widely accepted.
- For babies over four weeks old, keep Albon® and sulfa trimeth on hand to fight coccidia and E.coli diarrhea.
- For puppies under four weeks, stick with amoxicillin or the cephalexin family.
- For eye care, keep Terramycin® or triple antibiotic ointment on hand.
- Do not use medications containing steroids on pregnant moms.
- For umbilical cord treatment, keep Vetricyn Super 7 and dental floss or clamps.
- It's also important to have easy access to both oral and injectable fluids such as saline and Re-Sorb®. Saline is great for flushing eyes or wounds and also works in the nose or as an injectable if the baby is not doing well. Re-Sorb® is easy to store and makes a gallon of puppy Gatorade.
- Antihistamines are also helpful for any adverse reactions including lethargy or soreness post vaccination. Use this in tiny dogs before it becomes apparent that you need it.
- In case of injury, it's good to have leg wraps, gauze and super glue on hand.
Knowing what medications to keep in your medicine cabinet will save you a lot of stress as you care for your pregnant moms and new babies. It's not one thing, but 101 things we do correctly to get puppies healthy and on to their next home!
Have what you need, but you're not sure how to use it? Give us a call at 800.786.4751. We're happy to help.-The Revival Education Team
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.