By Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is enrofloxacin?

Enrofloxacin (brand name: Baytril®) is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections.

Its use in dogs to treat certain specific infections and its use in small mammals, birds, and reptiles 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 very carefully as their directions may be significantly different from those on the label.

How is enrofloxacin given?

Enrofloxacin is given by mouth in the form of a tablet. It is best given on an empty stomach, but if vomiting or nausea occurs, give the next dose with food or a treat that does not contain dairy. Do not crush the tablets. This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, however, visible effects may take a few days to be recognized.

It may also be given by your veterinarian in the form of an injectable solution.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember, but if it is close to the time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed and 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?

The most common side effects of enrofloxacin are gastrointestinal effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. Rarely, uncoordinated walking, seizures, depression, lethargy, allergic reactions, urinary crystals, nervousness have been reported. On bloodwork, elevated liver enzymes may be observed. In young, growing animals, abnormalities of the joint cartilage have occurred.

In cats, eye damage and blindness have been reported, usually at higher doses. Rarely, vomiting, lack of appetite, elevated liver enzymes, diarrhea, uncoordinated walking, lethargy, vocalization, and aggression can occur in cats.

This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Enrofloxacin should not be used in pets that are allergic to it, in dehydrated pets, in small and medium breed dogs under 8 months of age, or in large breed dogs that have not finished their rapid-growth phase. It should be used with caution in pets with seizure disorders, or in pets with kidney or liver disease.

Studies on using enrofloxacin in breeding, pregnant, and nursing dogs did not show effects, however, due to the known effects on cartilage, use in pregnant dogs should be with caution. Safety in cats has not been established, so extreme caution must be used when administering this medication in cats.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

The following medications should be used with caution when given with enrofloxacin: antacids, dairy products, other antibiotics, drugs that cause prolonged QTc intervals, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, doxorubicin, flunixin, 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 needs to be done with this medication?

Your pet should be monitored for adverse effects. Monitor cats for dilated pupils or vision changes. Your veterinarian may monitor your pet to be sure that the medication is working.

How do I store enrofloxacin?

Store this medication at room temperatures of less than 30°C (86°F) in a tightly-sealed container and protected from light, especially strong ultraviolet light (direct sunlight). Do not allow the liquid form to freeze.

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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