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Enrofloxacin for Dogs and Cats

By Evan Ware, DVM

Last reviewed: 7/13/2022

Commonly prescribed for: Certain Bacterial Infections

Species: Dogs and Cats

Therapeutic Class: Broad-spectrum Antibiotic

Basic Information

Enrofloxacin is a broad-spectrum antibiotic used in veterinary medicine to treat animals afflicted with certain bacterial infections. Enrofloxacin may be an appropriate treatment option for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella, E.coli., Enterobacter, Campylobacter, Shigella, Salmonella, Aeromonas, Haemophilus, Proteus, Yersinia, Serratia, Vibrio, Brucella, Chlamydia, Staphylococci (including some methicillin resistant strains), Mycoplasma, and Mycobacterium.

This drug belongs to a class of antibiotics known as fluoroquinolones and is not an appropriate treatment option against infections caused by viruses, fungi, or parasites.

Veterinary Medicine Uses for Enrofloxacin

Enrofloxacin works by inhibiting the process of DNA synthesis within the bacterial cells, which results in cell death. This drug is commonly used to treat a range of bacterial infections, including those of the skin, urinary tract, and respiratory system, as well as infections that result from wounds.

It is not effective against anaerobic bacteria and can be variably effective against Streptococcus infections. Enrofloxacin has a similar spectrum of activity as ciprofloxacin but enrofloxacin has been shown to have better bioavailability. Except for cerebral spinal fluid, enrofloxacin attains therapeutic levels in most tissues of the body. This makes it a very attractive antibiotic choice for difficult-to-treat infections, particularly those that need long-term antibiotics. Some examples might be osteomyelitis, sinus infections, otitis, difficult soft tissue infections, peritonitis and pleuritis, or pneumonia.

Potential Side-Effects of Enrofloxacin

This medication can cause some animal-patients to experience certain side-effects, generally diarrhea or loose stools. On very rare occasions, an animal can experience a seizure, while younger animals can experience swollen joints, general lethargy, and in some cases, cartilage damage when dosed above the recommended range and below the recommended age.

Drug Interactions with Enrofloxacin can interact with one or more medications. Common culprits include iron supplements, antacids, and stomach protectants. Avoid giving with dairy products (such as cheese, cream cheese, or yogurt) because the calcium can bind to the drug, limiting its effectiveness.

Precautions for Using Enrofloxacin

Enrofloxacin is appropriate for use in veterinary medicine. However, it should not be administered to puppies aged 28 weeks or younger. It should be used with caution in veterinary patients prone to seizures. Doses also can need to be adjusted for patients with severe kidney or liver impairment. This medication should not be administered to an animal with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to it or other medications in the same class (marbofloxacin, ciprofloxacin, etc.)

Hydration should be monitored and fluid therapy used in animals at risk for dehydration. Enrofloxacin should not be used for regional antibiotic perfusion because it is too irritating and can cause vasculitis. Enrofloxacin is eliminated by both renal and hepatic metabolism.

Dosage and Administration of Enrofloxacin

Enrofloxacin is approved for use in dogs and cats. In dogs it can be given orally, intramuscularly, or intravenously. It is approved only for oral use in cats although there is published information about intramuscular use. One of the positive features of enrofloxacin is that it is absorbed well orally and, in many cases, can be given once per day.

Fluorquinolones including enrofloxacin have been shown to cause articular cartilage abnormalities when the drug is given at high dose-levels. The age and breed of the patient should be considered when using enrofloxacin. Large and giant breeds can be more at risk because of a longer period of growth. Enrofloxacin has been shown to be appropriate in pregnant and lactating dogs; however, because of the problems with articular cartilage it should be avoided unless the benefits clearly outweigh the risks to the puppies. This work has not been repeated in cats.

Enrofloxacin is well-absorbed orally and intravenously. It generally is not used intramuscularly because it is too irritating. Although studies have not been done in the horse, there is the risk of developmental cartilage abnormalities with the Fluorquinolones antibiotics. Since horses are expected to be athletes, using enrofloxacin in the young horse should be weighed carefully against the potential risk of cartilage abnormality.
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