Overview of Chlorhexidine for Dogs and Cats
- Chlorhexidine is classified as a disinfectant or cleanser. It is used both to treat environmental surfaces, and in less concentrated forms, to treat the skin, ears and oral cavity. It is effective against bacteria, fungus, yeast and viruses.
- Chlorhexidine is an OTC (over the counter drug) but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian.
- Chlorhexidine is used in veterinary medicine for the treatment and prevention of dermatological (skin) conditions and for the management of ear infections (otitis externa) and gum disease.
Brand Names and Other Names of Chlorhexidine
- This drug is registered for use in humans and animals.
- Human formulations: Peridex® (Zila) and various generic preparations
- Veterinary formulations: Chlorhexiderm® otic flush (DVM Medical), Hexoral® rinse (Vetus), Novalsan® Solution (Fort Dodge), Novalsan® Scrub (Fort Dodge) and various generic preparations
Uses of Chlorhexidine for Dogs and Cats
- Chlorhexidine is prescribed to control infections.
- Chlorhexidine is often used as an anti-bacterial cleansing agent in the treatment of acute and chronic otitis externa (ear infection/inflammation).
- Chlorhexidine is used as an oral cleansing solution in cases of gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontal disease (infection of the gums, soft tissues and bone surrounding teeth).
- This drug can be used in the treatment of superficial skin infections, irrigation (cleansing) of wounds and as a medicated shampoo for the treatment of certain skin conditions (hot spots or acute moist dermatitis).
- Chlorhexidine is not effective against infections caused by parasites (such as worms and mites).
Precautions and Side Effects
- While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, chlorhexidine can cause side effects in some animals.
- Chlorhexidine should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
- Chlorhexidine 2 percent solution or scrub should always be diluted prior to use to avoid allergic reactions.
How Chlorhexidine Is Supplied
- Chlorhexidine is available in various sizes and preparations.
- Chlorhexidine oral rinse solutions – 0.1 percent
- Chlorhexidine otic (ear) solutions – 1 percent
- Chlorhexidine solutions – 2 percent
- Chlorhexidine shampoo and conditioner 1 and 2 percent
Dosing Information of Chlorhexidine for Dogs and Cats
- Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
- As an ear-cleansing agent – flush the ear canal once a day in cases of diagnosed otitis externa.
- For skin conditions – clean the area twice daily.
- For gingivitis – chlorhexidine oral solution is applied as directed once a day.
- Chlorhexidine shampoo and conditioner – use as directed once or twice a week.
- The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects.
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