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Effect of tylosin on dogs with suspected tylosin-responsive diarrhea

Effect of tylosin on dogs with suspected tylosin-responsive diarrhea: a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blinded, prospective clinical trial:

Susanne Kilpinen,1 Thomas Spillmann,1 Pernilla Syrjä,2 Teresa Skrzypczak,3 Maria Louhelainen,1 and Elias Westermarck1

Acta Vet Scand. 2011; 53(1): 26. Published online 2011 April 14. doi:  10.1186/1751-0147-53-26. Received October 20, 2010; Accepted April 14, 2011.

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The macrolid antibiotic tylosin has been widely used to treat canine chronic diarrhea, although its efficacy is based on anecdotal reports and experimental studies in dogs and not on strong scientific evidence. The term tylosin-responsive diarrhea (TRD) refers to diarrheal disorders responding to tylosin therapy within a few days. In TRD, the stool remains normal as long as tylosin treatment continues, but diarrhea reappears in many dogs within weeks after discontinuation. The aim of our trial was to assess the effect of tylosin on fecal consistency compared with a placebo treatment in dogs with suspected TRD and additionally to establish whether tylosin in dogs with recurrent diarrhea is as effective as empirical studies and anecdotal reports suggest.


Subjects comprised 71 client-owned dogs that, according to the owners, had previously been treated successfully with tylosin due to recurrent diarrhea of unknown etiology. At the initial examination, where there were no signs of diarrhea, the dogs were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to a tylosin or placebo group. During a two-month follow-up the owners evaluated the fecal consistency according to previously published guidelines. When diarrhea recurred, either tylosin (25 mg/kg q 24 h, 7 days) or placebo treatment was initiated orally. Treatment outcome was evaluated as the mean of fecal consistency scores assigned during the last three days of the treatment period. To test for differences between the tylosin and placebo group in the proportion of responders, Pearson's Chi-squared test and Fisher's exact test were applied.


Sixty-one dogs met the selection criteria and were followed for two months. During the follow-up 27 dogs developed diarrhea and either tylosin or placebo treatment was started. The proportion of dogs with normal fecal consistency at the end of treatment was 85% (17/20) in the tylosin group and 29% (2/7) in the placebo group (Pearson's Chi-squared test p = 0.0049 and Fisher's exact test two-sided, p = 0.0114).


Our findings indicate that tylosin is effective in treating recurrent diarrhea in dogs. The dose of 25 mg/kg once daily appears sufficient. No changes specific to TRD were detected in the examinations.

1Department of Equine and Small Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

2Department of Veterinary Biosciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

3Research Department, Veterinary Bacteriology, Finnish Food Safety Authority, Helsinki, Finland

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