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Clavacillin for dogs: When and how should you use it for your pet?

Key Takeaways

  • Clavacillin is an antibiotic drug commonly administered to humans to treat certain bacterial infections, but it is also rated for use with cats and dogs.
  • This drug is fairly effective against many kinds of common bacterial infections, such as periodontal infections, as well as other skin and soft tissue infections.
  • However, it comes with its own host of possible side effects, and can potentially cause severe allergic reactions in particularly sensitive dogs.
  • Still, with proper consultation from a veterinarian and careful administration, it is by and large a harmless substance and is a key tool for fending off bacterial infection.

Clavacillin, also known by its generic name, amoxicillin trihydrate/clavulanate potassium, is a popular drug for humans that can also be administered to dogs. It is primarily intended to treat skin and soft tissue infections such as wounds, cellulitis, pyoderma, periodontal infections, and abscesses. Specific strains of bacteria that your dog may be susceptible to mainly enter their bodies through such soft tissue infections, and hence Clavacillin is vital for preventing a potential severe reaction that can result if your dog turns out to be very susceptible. In my experience, this drug is invaluable for boosting the immune system of sickly dogs in the event of a possible infection, especially with conditions that can be tough to heal from if the dog’s immune system is lacking, such as canine periodontal disease.

Available in other forms such as Clavamox, Clavacillin has minimal side effects, although it’s not uncommon to see it producing allergic reactions in some dogs. Clavacillin can be administered in tablet or liquid form, usually around mealtime. I’ve seen plenty of infections start to clear up in a few days or less after administering Clavacillin or Clavamox.

What is Clavacillin?

Clavacillin is an antibiotic for humans that has variants rated for veterinary use. If you’ve ever taken an antibiotic, you might have taken Clavacillin under a different brand name like Augmentin or Clavulin. For dogs, Clavamox is the most common brand of Clavacillin. This antibiotic is particularly good at treating bacterial infections, like skin and soft tissue infections, and E. coli. Clavacillin is also referred to as amoxicillin clavulanic acid, as it’s made of amoxicillin, a type of penicillin, and potassium clavulanate.

Many owners may be surprised to learn that their pets can take human medications like Clavanox, Bravecto, Loratadine, and Trazodone for dogs. However, you don’t want to give your dog medication without your vet’s knowledge— and you definitely don’t want to give your dog antibiotics without knowing anything about it. Otherwise, your dog might be sicker than he was in the beginning.

What is Clavacillin commonly prescribed for?

Your vet may prescribe Clavacillin for a number of reasons[1]. Here are a few of the conditions that Clavacillin treats:

  • E. coli
  • Abscesses, cellulitis, and dermatitis
  • Canine periodontal infections and other forms of gum disease
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Streptococcal infections
  • Infected wounds
  • Respiratory infections
  • Pyoderma due to susceptible strains of several organisms
  • Staphylococcus infections
  • Cellulitis
  • Other bacterial skin and soft tissue infections

Before you ask for Clavacillin for your dog, keep in mind that it doesn’t treat everything. Clavacillin is only feasible against certain susceptible strains of bacteria, meaning it’s not a cure-all for all types of soft tissue infections. It cannot treat viruses, fungal infections such as yeast dermatitis, and non-susceptible types of bacteria.

Is Clavacillin considered a high-quality antibiotic?

Clavacillin is a strong antibiotic that treats a variety of infections including Urinary Tract Infections, and may be helpful if over-the-counter UTI treatments for your dog aren’t taking care of the problem. Your vet might not prescribe it for a severe bacterial infection, but it’s good for mild-to-moderate infections like gum disease and E. coli.

Your dog might start to feel better a few days after they start treatment. Some bacterial strains are resistant to penicillin, but Clavacillin has other ingredients that combat these strains.

Clavacillin vs. penicillin

Clavacillin is similar to penicillin, but the two antibiotics aren’t exactly alike. Unlike plain penicillin, Clavacillin contains amoxicillin and potassium clavulanate, hence its generic name, amoxicillin trihydrate/ clavulanate potassium. Amoxicillin is a stronger version of penicillin which is able to kill a wider spectrum of bacteria in your dog’s system. Some bacteria are resistant to amoxicillin, so the potassium clavulanate helps to mop up whatever remains after the amoxicillin has done its job.

You can think of Clavacillin as an enhanced version of penicillin. Unfortunately, this means that it can still trigger an allergic reaction in people and dogs with a penicillin allergy. Tell your vet about any penicillin allergies in the house before you start a treatment regimen, or ask to get your dog tested if your vet forgets to do so. Do the same for yourself with your own physician.

Things to keep in mind when giving your dog Clavacillin

You could give your dog a tablet or liquid— whichever is easier for you. Unlike other medications, dogs typically don’t mind the taste of Clavacillin. However, you could hide the tablet in a dog treat if your dog doesn’t want to eat it. You could also give your dog the liquid directly or mix it in with their food.

Risks Associated With Clavacillin

Empty refrigerator.

Aside from the regular side effects, Clavacillin is generally a safe drug. However, liquid Clavacillin goes bad if it’s not refrigerated, so never leave the drug out for too long. When it’s refrigerated, liquid Clavacillin typically expires after ten days, although I’ve had a few batches that went bad in less. Clavacillin tablets have a much longer shelf life, but keep an eye on the expiration date on the bottle.

Unless your vet gives you different instructions, never give your dog more than two doses of Clavacillin per day. If your dog doesn’t seem to react to the drug, call your vet to see if they can recommend an alternative. Never assume that your dog needs more than the recommended dosage.

Your vet may prescribe allergy shots or over-the-counter antihistamines in the event that your dog tests positive for antibiotic allergies. Remember to administer these on time in order to prevent severe allergies from occurring.

Finally, observe your dog after you give them a dose of Clavacillin. If an allergic reaction occurs suddenly despite prior testing, you might not be able to help them if you leave the room. Try not to leave your dog by themselves if you plan on leaving the house after their dose.

Which dogs should not take Clavacillin?

Clavacillin isn’t right for every dog. Here’s a list of dogs that shouldn’t take Clavacillin:

  • Pregnant or lactating dogs
  • Dogs that take antacids such as Famotidine for dogs
  • Dogs taking medications that might interact with Clavacillin, like penicillin, tetracycline, or chloramphenicol
  • Dogs who are severely allergic to penicillin, or those who are allergic and have not received anything to counteract the allergens
  • Dogs who might be allergic to the other ingredients in the drug

What to do if you have a penicillin allergy

You might not be the one taking Clavacillin, but you could still have a reaction if it turns out that you’re allergic to penicillin[2]. Remember that allergies develop at any point in your life, especially if you’ve experienced a recent, sudden change in environment, your physiology and immune system, or other relevant factors.

Just like with food allergies, you can experience serious allergic reactions just by touching penicillin depending on your sensitivity to it. While this is less of a threat with tablets, as they’re encased in a soluble substance, this outer casing can still be breached thus bringing penicillin in contact with your skin and producing allergic reactions.

Common allergy symptoms include a drop in blood pressure, watery eyes, allergic rhinitis or hay fever, and a wheezing cough, as well as rashes, hives, or other types of inflammation. These typically worsen in intensity depending on how sensitive you are. And although it’s rare, you may experience severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis which can be life-threatening.

Hence, I’d advise that you not touch or handle Clavacillin until you talk to your doctor about the risks. If you’ve been given the all-clear to handle Clavacillin, you should still watch out for signs of allergic reactions. Call a doctor immediately if you experience serious side effects like swelling or difficulty breathing.

How long to give your dog Clavacillin for

The days of treatment therapy varies, but your vet may prescribe Clavacillin for up to ten days. Some dogs start to improve within four days or less, but that doesn’t mean you can stop giving them antibiotics. Otherwise, their infection might worsen again. Give your dog their full prescription and maximum days of treatment therapy even if you don’t think it’s necessary.

How often to administer Clavacillin

Your vet will recommend the specific dosage, but dogs usually take one dose every twelve hours. Most dogs get one millimeter of liquid per pound. If your dog takes chewables, they typically get 6.25 milligrams per pound.

What to do if you accidentally miss a dose

If you accidentally miss a dose, never give your dog two doses at once. Instead, give them one dose as you would normally. Call your vet if you’re worried about the missed dose. Generally, missing one dose isn’t fatal, but keep your dog’s treatment on schedule as much as possible.

Can you give your dog human antibiotics?

Clavacillin started out as an antibiotic for humans. Doctors still prescribe Clavacillin for their patients today, although it usually comes under a different brand name. This antibiotic might be suitable for dogs and humans, but that doesn’t mean you should give your dog the leftover antibiotics you have in your pantry.

Even if you give your dog Clavacillin, the dosage wasn’t made for a dog’s unique biology. As a result, Clavacillin might actually be harmful to your dog. Additionally, Clavacillin comes in hard capsules and IV drips, neither of which is ideal for your dog. Your vet could prescribe a chewable or liquid that your dog scarfs down with the rest of their meal.

Medicine blister pile.

Additionally, some pet owners assume that Clavacillin treats just about anything. You might give your Clavacillin for an illness that it doesn’t treat, meaning that you’re medicating your dog for no reason. Clavacillin doesn’t treat viruses or fungal infections and even some bacterial infections. If your dog experiences side effects or an allergic reaction, you’ll have to have an unpleasant conversation with your vet about giving your dog unprescribed medication for humans.

Giving your dog a different antibiotic is even more dangerous. Not all antibiotics are suitable for dogs, and they could trigger a severe illness, allergic reaction, or even death. At best, they might simply do nothing. You won’t know the right dosage for your dog and might give them a drug that doesn’t treat their type of infection. Overall, giving your dog human medication without your vet’s knowledge is a bad idea.

Can you take your dog’s Clavacillin?

Clavacillin might be suitable for humans, but that doesn’t mean you can take your dog’s leftover prescription. If you have a bacterial infection, talk to a doctor about getting your own dose. Your dog’s Clavacillin probably won’t have the right dosage for your condition. Besides that, misuse of antibiotics is a severe ethical irresponsibility.

Can cats take Clavacillin?

Sleeping kitten.

Clavacillin is suitable for both dogs and cats. If your cat contracts a bacterial infection, like skin and soft tissue infections, your vet might prescribe the same medication that they gave your dog. Just make sure you don’t give your cat the dog’s prescription.

Where to buy Clavacillin

You can buy Clavacillin from online retailers, but you need a prescription first. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes to input the information. The retailer might review the information and get back to you before you can buy Clavacillin through their website. If you find a retailer that doesn’t require a prescription, they’re operating illegally.

You might have heard that overprescription of antibiotics has resulted in antibiotic-resistant strains. This is true for dogs as well as humans. For this reason, it’s important to get a prescription so you don’t over-medicate your dog. You might be able to buy Clavacillin directly from your vet, eliminating the need to shop online altogether. This is my preferred method to get Clavacillin, as there’s no further need to have my vet verify the legitimacy of the product.

General Tips for Giving Your Dog Clavacillin

If you need some quick advice, here are a few general tips for giving your dog Clavacillin:

  • Observe your dog after you give them a dose to make sure they don’t have an allergic reaction.
  • If your dog doesn’t like the liquid form, mix it in with their food.
  • Disguise the tablet as a treat if your dog dislikes the taste.
  • Never buy Clavacillin from a retailer that doesn’t require a prescription.
  • Watch out for severe side effects like swelling, seizures, and hives.
  • Give your dog their medication with a meal to reduce the risk of side effects.
  • Don’t handle Clavacillin if you’re allergic to penicillin.
  • Let your vet knows if your dog has any allergies.
  • If you miss a dose, give your dog their next dose as scheduled. Never give them two doses at once.
  • Give your dog their entire prescription even if they get better after a few days.
  • Never give your dog more than two doses per day unless your vet says otherwise.


Clavacillin is a safe antibiotic that many vets prescribe for bacterial infections. Clavacillin doesn’t treat everything, but it’s great for mild infections that usually clear up in ten days or less. Unless your dog has an allergic reaction, they’ll experience minimal side effects and might feel better within three or four days. Just make sure you follow your vet’s advice and never give your dog more or less than the recommended dose. If your dog doesn’t respond to the medication, call your vet so they can recommend a different antibiotic. If you have any leftover medication, dispose of it properly. Never give your dog’s prescription to another person or animal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Clavacillin used for in dogs?

Clavacillin or amoxicillin trihydrate/ clavulanate potassium is an antibiotic that treats bacterial infections, like periodontal infections and other gum disease, skin and soft tissue infections in general, and E. coli. This drug has few side effects and comes in two forms: tablet and liquid. Your vet might prescribe Clavacillin for your dog to fight mild-to-moderate infections.

Is Clavacillin a strong antibiotic?

Clavacillin is a strong antibiotic against susceptible strains of bacteria. However, it can’t treat every infection and might not be the best option for a serious infection that requires immediate intervention. Your vet could let you know if Clavacillin works for your dog or not.

Is Clavacillin the same as amoxicillin?

Clavacillin contains amoxicillin, but it also contains another ingredient called potassium clavulanate. As a result, it might not be the best option for every situation. Some dogs may be allergic to potassium clavulanate.

What are the side effects of Clavacillin?

Clavacillin typically has mild side effects, like vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. You might be able to alleviate these side effects by giving your dog food along with their medication. In rare cases, dogs experience severe side effects like seizures, hives, swelling, rashes, and difficulty breathing. Call your vet immediately an allergic reaction occurs.

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2 thoughts on “Clavacillin for dogs: When and how should you use it for your pet?”

    • Unfortunately I would defer to your veterinarian’s advice here. My guess is that it’s probably OK, but I can’t say for sure that its safe for your dog. Your vet would be able to give you the best answer with knowledge of your pup’s medical information.


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