During a recent prolonged cold snap, I noticed a small spot of blood at the end of my dog’s face. Whether from rooting around and sniffing at normally pliable ground that had frozen over, or simply from chapping due to repeated exposure, Baby had a small cut on the top of her nose. Like any concerned dog owner, my first impulse was to retreat to my medicine cabinet for a tube of Neosporin. As I removed the top of the antibacterial ointment, I wondered, can you put Neosporin on dogs?
According to Google’s 2016 Year in Search, I was not alone in wondering. “Can you put Neosporin on dogs?” was the eighth-most-asked question about dogs that the search engine giant tallied throughout the year. The more research I did, I found a number of related queries, so I did the neighborly thing and researched all of them for Dogster! The major points we’ll touch on along the way:
- What is Neosporin? How does it work?
- Using Neosporin on dogs for wound care
- Is Neosporin safe for use on dogs’ eyes, ears or paws?
- Can you put Neosporin on dogs’ stitches or sutures?
- What happens if a dog licked or ingested Neosporin?
- Are there Neosporin alternatives for dogs?
First, what is Neosporin? How does it work?
In its standard, regular-strength formula, Neosporin is the brand-name for a common over-the-counter triple antibiotic ointment. Why “triple” as a descriptor? Because it contains three antibiotic agents: Bacitracin, Neomycin and Polymyxin B. All three of these antibiotics are touted for their ability to prevent infection caused specifically by bacteria. Since it was first sold in the 1950s, the brand itself has become a byword where small injuries are concerned.
As a topical cream, Neosporin is meant to prevent minor cuts, scrapes and wounds on the skin from being exacerbated by bacterial infection. It is also supposed to speed healing in broken skin. Studies have shown that, as an antibacterial agent, there is actually very little difference in infection prevention or healing speed if an abrasion is cleaned immediately than when it is treated with Neosporin. It also has no effect on infections caused by other foreign agents, such as a fungus or a virus.
Using Neosporin on dogs for wound care
Like most over-the-counter medications, humans probably use Neosporin as a force of habit, and without any real necessity. Should this knowledge impact how we approach putting Neosporin on dogs on dogs? For dogs, this is the primary use: minor scrapes and abrasions, and only after you’ve cleaned it beforehand with either warm water or a very simple saline solution.