Doxycycline for Your Dog or Cat

Posted on Fri 23 February 2024 in update

Understanding Doxycycline: A Comprehensive Guide for Pet Owners

Written in conjunction with Wedgewood Pharmacy

Doxycycline 101: What to Know if Your Veterinarian Prescribes Doxycycline for Your Dog or Cat

When dogs or cats are ill, it's our responsibility as pet owners to ensure they receive the best care possible. Among the arsenal of medications veterinarians prescribe, doxycycline holds a significant place, especially when it comes to battling infections. Here is what to expect when your pet is prescribed this medication.

What is Doxycycline?

Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that's part of the tetracycline class of antibiotics. It's not just an antibiotic; it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Due to its versatile nature, it's a go-to medication for veterinarians to treat a myriad of infections.

How Does Doxycycline Work?

The primary function of doxycycline is to inhibit protein synthesis in bacteria, effectively stopping the bacteria from growing and multiplying. This action helps the pet's immune system to better fight off the infection. It's essential to follow the prescribed dosage and duration to ensure the infection is entirely eradicated.

When is Doxycycline Prescribed?

Doxycycline can be prescribed for various conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Skin infections
  • Tick-borne diseases (like Lyme disease)
  • Certain viral and fungal infections

Its anti-inflammatory properties also make it useful in treating conditions where inflammation is a part of the disease process, such as certain types of arthritis.

Side Effects and Precautions

While doxycycline is generally well-tolerated by most pets, there are potential side effects that pet owners should be aware of. The most common side effects include gastrointestinal upset, such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. To minimize these effects, it's often recommended to give the medication with food. Cats may be at increased risk for esophageal strictures after "dry pilling" with doxycycline, so it is often recommended to give water after pilling or use a liquid product to minimize esophageal damage.

It's crucial to use doxycycline with caution in pregnant animals, as it can affect the development of bones and teeth in the unborn fetus. Similarly, for young animals with developing bones and teeth, alternative treatments should be considered. Pets with liver disease may require careful monitoring or dosage adjustments.

The Importance of Veterinary Guidance

It's vital to never administer doxycycline or any other medication without the guidance and prescription of a qualified veterinarian. They will consider your pet's specific condition, medical history, and potential interactions with other medications before prescribing doxycycline.


Doxycycline can be a highly effective treatment for various infections in dogs and cats when used appropriately. Understanding its uses, potential side effects, and the importance of following your veterinarian's instructions can help ensure the health and well-being of your pet. Remember, the key to successful treatment lies in open communication with your vet and adherence to their professional advice. Together, you can keep your pet healthy and happy for years to come.