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Erythromycin

By: Dr. Mark Papich

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Overview

  • Erythromycin is an antibiotic that inhibits bacteria by suppressing protein synthesis and growth. Other related medications include azithromycin (Zithromax®) and clarithromycin (Biaxin®).
  • Erythromycin is effective against a narrow range of bacteria in dogs and cats. It is effective against bacteria that infect the skin, respiratory tract and sinuses. Erythromycin is not effective against intestinal-origin coliform bacteria (E. coli, for example).
  • Erythromycin is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in animals and humans.
  • Human formulations: Ery-Tab® (Abbott), E-Mycin® (Boots) and Robimycin® (Robins)
  • Veterinary formulations: Erythro-100® (Rhone Merieux)

    Uses of Erythromycin

  • Erythromycin is used in both dogs and cats to treat bacterial infections, including skin infections, wound infections, bone infections, pneumonia and sinus infections. It also has been used for some tick-borne infections, such as Lyme disease.
  • Erythromycin at low doses has been used to stimulate intestine motility, but the application of this effect for treating diseases is not established.
  • Erythromycin is not effective against infections caused by parasites (intestinal worms), mites, viruses or fungi.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, erythromycin can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Erythromycin should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Erythromycin may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with erythromycin. Such drugs include theophylline, digoxin, methylprednisolone and certain antibiotics.
  • The most common side effect is vomiting. Dogs particularly may vomit shortly after administration of erythromycin. If this reaction is observed, it is usually not serious.
  • Erythromycin may cause nausea, diarrhea and decreased appetite in dogs and cats.
  • Erythromycin has caused liver reactions in people, however these have not been a problem in animals. Do not administer erythromycin to pregnant animals.

    How Erythromycin Is Supplied

  • There are many formulations of erythromycin available as various chemical compositions (salts, esters, etc.). Common formulations include tablets and capsules in sizes ranging from 250 mg to 500 mg. Oral liquid suspension ranges in concentration from 25 mg/ml to 50 mg/ml.
  • The base of erythromycin is sometimes supplied in an enteric-coated tablet. These tablets are not absorbed from the stomach or intestine in animals very well and should not be administered for therapy.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The usual dose is 5 to 10 mg per pound (10 to 20 mg/kg) every eight to 12 hours orally.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse or prevent the development of resistance.




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