Ciprofloxacin - Oral

By Kayla Hyland, DVM; Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is ciprofloxacin oral?

Ciprofloxacin (brand name: Cipro®) is a systemic fluoroquinolone antibiotic, usually used as an alternative to enrofloxacin to treat bacterial infections. It is most often used to treat urinary tract infections or skin infections.

Its use in cats and dogs to treat bacterial infections is “off label” or “extra label”. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off-label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions carefully as they may be significantly different from those on the label.

How does the drug work?

Ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin have similar modes of action. In pets, Ciprofloxacin’s absorption into the body from the bloodstream can be variable and significantly less than enrofloxacin. It begins working about 1-2 hours after it is given, and you should notice your pet feeling better about two days after you start the medication. It is important to give this medication to your pet for the entire time prescribed by your veterinarian, even if it appears that your pet is feeling better.

How is ciprofloxacin given?

Ciprofloxacin is given by mouth in the form of an oral tablet. Ciprofloxacin can also be administered intravenously by your veterinarian in the form of an injectable solution. Ciprofloxacin is best given on an empty stomach and without food, but if your pet vomits or acts sick after receiving the medication, a small amount of food can be given prior to administering the medication.

Do not give this medication with products that contain calcium, iron, or aluminum, such as dairy products, antacids, sucralfate, or aluminum hydroxide, as these products can reduce the absorption of this medication.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication or my shipment is late?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember; however, if it is close to time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed, give it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

Are there any potential side effects?

Ciprofloxacin is a short-acting drug and will generally be out of your pet’s system within 24 hours after the last dose is given, although the effects may last longer if your pet has decreased liver or kidney function. Side effects of this medication include gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, anorexia, inflammation or irritation of the esophagus, and diarrhea), cloudy urine, urinary crystals, nervousness, agitation, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and allergic or hypersensitivity reactions.

In young, growing animals, cartilage abnormalities may occur.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

This medication should not be used in young and growing pets due to concerns about cartilage damage. It should not be used in pets that are dehydrated. Ciprofloxacin should not be given to pets that are hypersensitive or allergic to quinolone antibiotics. Use this drug with caution in pets that have a history of seizures or have severe kidney or liver disease.

Because of ciprofloxacin’s effects on cartilage, it should not be used in pregnant animals. It may be used with caution in lactating animals. It is likely minimally absorbed by nursing puppies or kittens, so risk should be weighed with benefits.

In cats, high-dose ciprofloxacin should be used with caution, as vision loss has been reported with high doses of enrofloxacin.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following drugs should not be used or should be used with caution when given with ciprofloxacin: products containing magnesium, aluminum, or calcium (antacids, dairy), other antibiotics, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, doxorubicin, drugs that affect the heart rhythm, fentanyl, iron, zinc, levothyroxine, mycophenolate mofetil, methotrexate, nitrofurantoin, probenecid, quinidine, sildenafil, sucralfate, theophylline, and warfarin.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

Is there any monitoring that must be done with this medication?

There is no specific monitoring that must be done while your pet is taking this medication. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.In humans, this drug can cause changes in liver and kidney values, as well as red blood cell counts, but this has not been noted in veterinary patients. In pets with pre-existing liver and kidney disease, your veterinarian may monitor these values.

How do I store ciprofloxacin?

Store Ciprofloxacin tablets in a tight container at temperatures less than 86°F (30°C) and protected from strong UV light.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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