If your dog ingested Neosporin, you may be concerned and wonder whether it is harmful to your dog. Many dog owners reach out for a tube of Neosporin to treat various conditions such as cuts and wounds. When applied externally, on the dog's skin, dogs may feel compelled to lick the Neosporin off if no precautions are taken. While ingesting Neosporin in small amounts is not particularly harmful, it's a good idea to take measures to prevent this from happening in the future.
Use of Neosporin for Dogs
Neosporin, also known as triple antibiotic ointment, is a an antibiotic ointment which, as the name implies, contains three different antibiotics, namely neomycin, polymyxin B, and bacitracin. This product is found over the counter typically in the first aid aisle. Triple antibiotic ointment is also offered in several generic forms.
Neosporin for dogs is often found in the first aid kit of many dog owners. This ointment is considered effective in preventing the onset of bacterial infections in minor trauma to the skin. Dog owners may therefore use a film of Neosporin to treat burns, scratches cuts and minor infections of the skin after the affected area is cleaned.
Neosporin should only be used on superficial wounds. A deep puncture wound or cut may need medical attention or stitches, so it's best to see the vet for proper treatment.
Often, the moment Neosporin is applied, the dog is drawn to the area. Dogs are inquisitive by nature and often they explore things through their mouths. It is therefore quite common for dogs to lick Neosporin off their wound once applied.
Warning: certain antibiotic ointments may contain additional pain relief ingredients such as pramoxine which can be more of a problem if ingested in large quantities. Ingestion of large quantities, may anesthetize the esophagus risking aspiration of food into the lungs (aspiration pneumonia). Consult with your vet.
My Dog Ingested Neosporin
If your dog ingested Neosporin you may therefore be concerned on two levels, firstly, you may be concerned whether it's harmful, and secondly, you may be concerned that the Neosporin doesn't have an opportunity to absorb. There are fortunately, several measures you can take to prevent your dog from licking off the Neosporin.
Fortunately, if your dog ingested a small quantity of Neosporin, there is nothing to really be overly concerned about.
Neosporin is mostly composed of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and it contains very low quantities of antibiotics, explains veterinarian Dr. Matt. Most of the antibiotic drugs contained in Neosporin fortunately don't absorb well in the intestinal tract.
At the most, when ingested in larger amounts, dogs may develop digestive issues (nausea, vomiting) as the product may irritate the digestive tract, and the fact that it is a petroleum-based product, may act as a laxative which can lead to diarrhea. This temporary digestive issue can be relieved by feeding the dog a dog upset stomach bland diet. Generally, the digestive issue is short-lived lasting no more than 24 hours.
While licking Neosporin won't likely lead to major problems, things can get more complicated if the dog happened to also ingest the tube and/or the plastic cap.
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"The biggest concern would be if they ate the tube itself because of possible obstruction. The ointment itself, if anything, would maybe cause some GI upset. Vomiting is unusual but diarrhea in a very small dog is possible...If you did see diarrhea, then using a bland diet of boiled chicken or boiled hamburg and rice would be good until the stool is normal again."~Dr. G. F.
My Dog Ingested Neosporin with the Tube
Things get more complicated if your dog ingested Neosporin and the tube along with it. In this case, there are risks for an intestinal blockage to occur. A blockage takes place when a foreign item gets stuck somewhere in the dog's digestive tract, interfering with the normal passage of food.
The risks for an obstruction are higher in the case of a dog who managed to swallow the tube in whole or in large pieces.
Risks for obstructions are of course higher for small dogs or puppies (generally under 20 pounds) ingesting large pieces due to their narrower digestive tracts. It's important to watch for signs of trouble such as vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, bloody stools and diarrhea.
Inducing vomiting may be risky in the case of a dog who ingested Neosporin because as the pieces of the tube are brought back up, they can risk lacerating the stomach or esophagus, explains veterinarian Dr. Christian K.This can likely happen when the tube is made of metal versus plastic. Consult with your vet for advice.
If your dog ingested Neosporin with the tube, things may be less complicated if your dog managed to chew up the tube before swallowing. This should lower the chances for the risk of an obstruction.
Veterinarian Dr. Matt suggests feeding two pieces of bread so that any particles of the ingested tube will stick to the bread and pass more easily. Adding also some canned pumpkin (the plain type, not the one with spices added for pies) can help expedite the passage of the pieces of tube.
" The most harmful part of the tube of Neosporin is actually the plastic cap and the tube itself as this can cause an intestinal obstruction if it was swallowed."~Dr. Matt, veterinarian
Preventing the Licking
There are several measures you can take to prevent your dog from licking the Neosporin. For instance, you can apply it and then keep your dog's mind off of it by taking him for a walk. In the meant time, generally within 10-15 minutes, a good amount of the Neosporin had the opportunity to be absorbed.
Alternatively, the dog can be distracted by playing a game of fetch or being provided with an interactive toy. Anything that keeps the dog's mind off from licking the product off and prevent the need for re-application can help.
If the dog cannot be actively supervised, an Elizabethan collar may be used. Some dog owners may opt to temporarily cover the Neosporin with a bandage, a shirt if the wound is on the chest or abdomen or a sock if the wound is on the paw.
Some dog owners may effectively prevent their dogs from licking the Neosporin off by giving the dog the "leave it" command, which can come handy for several circumstances.