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Chloramphenicol for Veterinary Use

By Evan Ware, DVM

Basic Information

Chloramphenicol is a broad-range antibiotic is used in veterinary medicine to treat bacterial infections in dogs and cats.

Infections Treated with Chloramphenicol

Chloramphenicol can be effective only against bacterial infections, and not infections caused by parasites, mites, viruses or fungi. Veterinarians typically use it to treat skin infections, wound infections, bone infections, intestinal tract infections, and pneumonia in dogs and cats. It also can be 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 can pass deeply through cell membranes and 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 to animals who are pregnant. It also should 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 can be appropriate for use in both dogs and cats when prescribed by a veterinarian, cats can be more susceptible to experiencing adverse reactions and therefore may 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.

Possible Side-Effects and Drug Interactions

Chloramphenicol can 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, blood dyscrasias can develop; the condition is most common in cats.

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

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Therapeutic Class
Broad-Spectrum Antibacterial

Dogs, Cats, and Horses

May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
Variety of infections, specifically those caused by anaerobic bacteria

Search for Available Dosage Forms

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Evan Ware, DVM

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of interest include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.