Is Neosporin Safe For Dogs?
Neosporin is generally safe, but there's a catch☝
You found a random scrape on your dog’s leg, so you want a way to clean the wound fast (before it turns into a nasty infection).
Checking your medicine cabinet, you find a tube of Neosporin. Is Neosporin safe for dogs, and could this work on your pup?
According to Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, a veterinarian at the Humane Educational Society in Tennessee, you can safely use Neosporin on a dog — but with a few caveats.
Here’s what you need to know before using Neosporin on your dog.
What is Neosporin?
Neosporin is a popular over-the-counter (OTC), topical antibiotic ointment that’s used to treat minor cuts, scrapes and other superficial wounds on humans. It has a triple-threat combo of antibiotics that prevents bacterial skin infections by stopping the growth of bacteria.
And since it’s super effective (and affordable!), it’s earned its spot in basically every person’s medicine cabinet in the U.S.
Since you likely already have it handy, Neosporin can be a seriously convenient solution if your dog gets a cut, scrape or burn unexpectedly.
Is Neosporin safe for dogs?
Luckily, you can apply Neosporin in small amounts on your dog’s superficial wounds — but there are some things you need to keep in mind before doing so.
Use on superficial wounds only
Neosporin won’t do much if your dog is bleeding a lot or has a major wound, like a puncture from a dog bite. In those cases, you’re better off going to the vet.
“Only [use] for superficial wounds like scrapes where the deeper skin layers are still intact,” Dr. Elfenbein told The Dodo.
He can’t eat it
It’s important your dog doesn’t lick the Neosporin off of himself once you apply it (which is most likely going to be his first reaction).
While the small amount of Neosporin you apply to your dog’s wound probably won’t get him sick, it’s still not good for him, and it will definitely prevent the ointment from doing its job.
“You have to prevent your dog from licking it,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “It’s not toxic if your dog licks a small amount once, but if your dog licks it off the wound, it isn’t going to help.”
That being said, Neosporin can be toxic if your dog eats a good amount of it. Ingesting too much of the ointment can lead to stomach problems, like diarrhea and vomiting.
“If your dog ingests more than the half-inch strip applied to his wound, call Pet Poison Control [at (855) 764-7661],” Dr. Elfenbein said.
To prevent your dog from licking off the Neosporin, a recovery collar or cone can help — it’s good to have one on hand in your pup first aid kit.
Use a small amount
Do not use more than half an inch of Neosporin ointment on your dog’s wound.
“Use only a very small amount, like you would on a child’s wound,” Dr. Elfenbein said.
This is important in the event your dog eats the ointment, which can make him sick in large amounts.
It’s also possible that your dog could be allergic to Neosporin — and a small amount might not be enough to trigger symptoms.
Test for Neosporin allergies
It’s best to test a tiny amount of Neosporin on a patch of your dog’s skin before applying to the wound to see if it causes any adverse reactions in your dog due to allergies. If you notice any red spots or swelling, don’t use the Neosporin and try an alternative (suggestions are below!).
Don’t use around the eyes
This really goes for both humans and dogs, but you should never use Neosporin around the eyes. If the scrape or cut is near the eye, you might want to skip the Neosporin and try something that’s safe for the eyes.
How to use Neosporin on dogs
For your dog’s superficial scratch, cut, scrape or burn, the first thing you should do is clean the wound gently with soap and water, then pat it dry.
Don’t overdo it, though.
“Wounds need to be clean and dry to heal, but cleaning too much or too aggressively can delay or prevent healing,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “A gentle cleaning once a day is usually sufficient.”
Secure your dog in his recovery collar (if needed), and apply a tiny amount of Neosporin to a patch of your dog’s skin. If you don’t see any swelling or red spots after a few minutes, you can apply Neosporin to the wound.
Your veterinarian can advise you on the proper amount of Neosporin to use on your dog, but this amount probably shouldn’t exceed more than half an inch strip of medication at a time.
Once the ointment dries and is no longer visible, you can remove the recovery collar, unless you think your dog will chew at his healing wound — in which case you should keep the collar on until the wound fully heals.
“Preventing your dog from licking/chewing/scratching the wound is very important for wound healing,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “That myth about a dog’s clean mouth is just that, a myth.”
Be sure to monitor your dog’s wound for the next few days to look for signs of infection.
When to see a veterinarian
If your dog’s wound is anything worse than a superficial cut, scrape or burn — go see your vet.
“Any wound where you can see the layers of tissue under the skin (fat, muscle or bone) needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately,” Dr. Elfenbein said.
You’ll also want to see your vet if your dog’s wound gets visibly worse, which can be a sign of a bacterial skin infection.
“Any wound that worsens — swelling, odor, discharge, pain — needs to be seen by a veterinarian immediately,” Dr. Elfenbein said.
Neosporin alternatives for dogs
There are both OTC and prescription antibiotic ointments for dogs that serve as an alternative to Neosporin and are more appropriate for pets. You should consider keeping them around for the next time you need to do a bit of first aid at home.
“Veterinarians carry several products that are similar to Neosporin but designed specifically for dogs and cats,” Dr. Elfenbein said. “Usually these have an anti-fungal component since yeast is a common component of skin infections in dogs and cats.”
“My favorite topical wound care product is a powder that has an antibiotic, a steroid (to reduce inflammation) and mild pain relief all in one (brand name Neo-PredEf),” Dr. Elfenbein said.
Neosporin can clean minor wounds, like small scrapes and scratches, when you're in a pinch. As long as you're using it the right way, it can be a great solution to get your pup all healed up safely.