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Azithromycin for Companion Animals

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General Drug Information and Indications

Azithromycin is a broad spectrum antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections in dogs, cats and some smaller mammals. It is well absorbed orally and generally needs to be given just once a day. Like many other drugs in veterinary medicine, this drug is not FDA approved for use in animals and is not available from a veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer. However, it commonly is prescribed by veterinarians to treat bacterial infections in companion animals and is considered accepted practice. Because there are no FDA approved azithromycin products available for animals, your veterinarian may prescribe a compounded azithromycin that is both the appropriate size and strength for your pet and with a flavor or texture that makes it easier to administer.

How to Give This Medication

Give this medication to your pet exactly as your veterinarian prescribes. If you miss giving your pet a dose of azithromycin, give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, return to the regular schedule. Do not double dose to catch up.

Wash your hands after giving your pet this medication.

Side Effects

Be sure to discuss any side effects with your veterinarian immediately.

The most common side effects are related to the digestive tract, such as nausea and vomiting.


Keep this and all drugs out of reach of children.

Azithromycin is a prescription drug and should be used according to your veterinarian's directions, and given only to the animal for which it was prescribed. Do not give this medication to a person.

Azithromycin should not be used in animals that are known to be allergic to this drug or any other macrolide antibiotic such as erythromycin or clarithromycin.

Azithromycin is metabolized by the liver and should be used with caution in animals that have liver problems. There have not been adequate studies to determine if azithromycin is safe in pregnant animals.

Drug Interactions

Be sure to review with your veterinarian any medications or supplements your pet may be receiving. Azithromycin should not be used in animals that are being given cisapride. Azithromycin may affect blood levels of oral cyclosporine. Oral antacids may reduce the rate of absorption of azithromycin.


If you suspect your pet or another animal was accidentally overdosed or has eaten this medication inadvertently, contact your veterinarian or the A.S.P.C.A.'s Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435. Always bring the prescription container with you when you take your pet for treatment.

If you or someone else has accidentally ingested this medication call the National Capital Poison Center at 800.222.1222.


Different strengths or dosage forms of azithromycin may have different storage requirements. Read the labeling or ask your pharmacist for the storage requirements of the prescription you receive.

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About the Author

Dr. Barbara Forney

Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.

She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.

Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.