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Tetracycline (Panmycin®)

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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  • Tetracycline is an antibiotic used to treat infections in animals caused by susceptible bacteria. Other similar antibiotics include oxytetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline.
  • Tetracycline inhibits bacteria from forming necessary proteins, resulting in death and reduced growth of the bacteria. This allows normal white blood cells to kill the remaining bacteria.
  • Tetracycline 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 humans and animals.
  • Human formulations: Achromycin-V® (Lederle), Actisite® (Alza), Topicycline® (Roberts) and various generic preparations
  • Veterinary small animal formulations: Panmycin® (Upjohn), Polyotic® (American Cyanamid) and various generic preparations
  • Although some forms of tetracycline may be available over the counter, you should consult with your veterinarian prior to administering any of these medications to your animal.

    Uses of Tetracycline

  • Tetracycline is used to treat bacterial infections susceptible to the drug.
  • Indications for tetracycline treatment are sometimes determined based on prior experience with treating a particular type of infection. For example, tetracycline is often used to treat upper airway and lung infections, but are not often used for urinary tract infections.
  • Alternatively, the value of tetracycline therapy may be suggested by a culture and sensitivity test, wherein a sample of the offending bacteria is grown in a laboratory and then tested for susceptibility against numerous antibiotics.
  • Tetracycline is frequently used to treat infections caused by rickettsial organisms (microorganisms that are often acquired through ticks). Examples of rickettsial diseases include Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, tetracycline can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Tetracycline should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Tetracycline has been shown to cause some fetal abnormalities and, therefore, should be avoided in pregnant animals.
  • Caution should be used when giving tetracycline to animals with known liver or kidney impairment.
  • If possible, tetracycline should not be given to young animals (less than 6 months of age) due to the potential for causing permanent discoloration of the teeth.
  • Tetracycline may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with tetracycline. Such drugs include certain antibiotics, digoxin, insulin and theophylline.
  • Common adverse effects include nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite or diarrhea. These gastrointestinal side effects can be decreased by giving the medication with food. However, tetracycline should not be given in the presence of calcium-containing or dairy foods, such as milk, cheese, ice cream or yogurt.
  • Infrequently, tetracycline may cause liver or kidney damage.
  • Tetracycline powder has a bitter taste and is not tolerated well in cats. Drooling and vomiting may be seen.
  • Fever and depression are also side effects of tetracycline that can be seen in cats, and if they occur the drug should be stopped.

    How Tetracycline Is Supplied

  • Tetracycline is available in a variety of forms such as 25 mg/ml and 100 mg/ml oral suspensions and 100mg, 250 mg and 500 mg capsules.
  • Tetracycline is also available in a 2.2 mg/ml topical solution.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • For susceptible infections, tetracycline is typically dosed at 10 mg per pound (20 mg/kg) three times daily in the dog and 5 to 7 mg per pound (10 to 15 mg/kg) three times daily in the cat.
  • 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 to prevent the development of bacterial resistance.



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