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Lincomycin for Veterinary Use

by Barbara Forney, VMD

Basic Information

Lincomycin is a lincosamide antibiotic. The other antibiotic in this group is clindamycin. These antibiotics are primarily used in companion animals to treat gram-positive bacterial infections. The mechanism of action is through the inhibition of protein synthesis within the bacterial cell. Lincosamide antibiotics can be either bacteriostatic or bactericidal, depending on the antibiotic concentration and the susceptibility of the organism.

Lincomycin is available in oral, intramuscular, and intravenous forms. It is rapidly but incompletely (30 - 40%) absorbed following oral administration. Food may decrease the rate and amount of absorption. There have been recent pharmacokinetic studies that indicate that once a day dosing for clindamycin is superior to the customary twice a day dosing. Lincomycin is well distributed through most tissues with the exception of the central nervous system. It is metabolized by the liver and excreted in urine, feces, and bile. Lincomycin levels may accumulate in animals with decreased liver or kidney function.

Dogs and Cats

Lincomycin is an older antibiotic from the same family as clindamycin. Clindamycin has a slightly broader spectrum of activity, but both are used to treat susceptible gram-positive and anaerobic-bacterial infections. Lincomycin is commonly used for superficial and deep skin infections.

It is particularly useful to treat infections in animals that are allergic to penicillins and cephalosporins.

Side Effects

  • Side effects in dogs and cats are primarily gastrointestinal. These may include vomiting, diarrhea, and, rarely, bloody diarrhea.
  • Intramuscular injection may cause painful injection site reactions.
  • Rapid intravenous injection may cause cardiopulmonary collapse.


  • Lincomycin should not be used in pocket pets, ruminants, or horses. It has been implicated in severe or fatal Clostridial enterocolitis.
  • Lincomycin should be used with caution in animals with decreased liver or kidney function. It should not be used in animals with a yeast (Candida) infection.
  • Lincomycin crosses the placenta. There is no information regarding safe use during pregnancy. Lincomycin is excreted in milk and may cause diarrhea in nursing animals.

Drug Interactions

  • Kaolin-containing anti-diarrheal products may decrease the absorption of lincomycin.
  • Lincosamide antibiotics should not be combined with macrolide antibiotics due to similar mechanism of action.
  • Cyclosporin levels may be reduced when used with lincomycin.
  • Lincomycin should not be used with neuromuscular blocking agents such as pancuronium


There is a wide margin of safety for oral overdose. If recognized promptly, gut-emptying protocols may be of some benefit.

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Therapeutic Class
Lincosamide antibiotic

Dogs and Cats

May Be Prescribed by Vets for:
Susceptible bacterial infection

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About the Author

Dr. Barbara Forney

Barbara Forney, VMD

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.