By Lauren Forsythe, PharmD, DICVP; 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 and cats to treat certain 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?

  • Give enrofloxacin by mouth in the form of a tablet or a compounded liquid suspension.
  • 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.
  • Enrofloxacin may also be given by your veterinarian in the form of an injectable solution.

This medication takes effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours; however, visible effects may take a few days to be recognized. 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.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember.  However, if it is close to the 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?

The most common side effects include:

  • gastrointestinal effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite

Rare side effects may include:

  • uncoordinated walking
  • seizures
  • depression
  • lethargy
  • allergic reactions
  • urinary crystals
  • nervousness
  • abnormalities of the joint cartilage In young, growing animals
  • elevated liver enzymes on bloodwork

In cats, additional rare side effects may include:

  • eye damage and blindness (usually at higher doses)
  • vocalization
  • aggression

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
  • pets that are dehydrated
  • small or medium breed dogs under 8 months of age
  • large breed dogs that have not finished their rapid growth phase

Enrofloxacin should be used with extreme caution in cats, as safety has not been established.

Enrofloxacin should be used with caution in:

  • pets that have a seizure disorder
  • pets that have kidney or liver disease
  • pregnant dogs

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

Certain medications should be used with caution when given with enrofloxacin, including, but not limited to:

  • antacids
  • dairy products
  • certain other antibiotics
  • corticosteroids
  • cyclosporine
  • zinc
  • levothyroxine
  • mycophenolate mofetil
  • sucralfate
  • theophylline.

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

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.
  • Your veterinarian may schedule a follow up visit after the course of medication is complete to ensure the infection has been cleared and/or do additional testing to ensure this is the right medication for the type of infection that is present. In this case, follow your veterinarian’s directions.

How do I store enrofloxacin?

  • Store this medication in a tightly-sealed container at room temperatures of less than 30°C (86°F).
  • Store protected from light, especially strong ultraviolet light (direct sunlight).
  • Do not allow the liquid form to freeze.
  • If using a compounded liquid suspension, discard once the date indicated on the label is reached.

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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