Amoxicillin-Clavulanic Acid

By Lauren Forsythe, PharmD, DICVP; Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is amoxicillin-clavulanic acid?

Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, also known as amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium (brand name Clavamox®), is a synthetic, penicillin-type antibiotic used to treat infections caused by certain types of bacteria (gram-positive and gram-negative). It is used to treat skin infections, soft tissue infections, and periodontal (gum) disease. Clavulanic acid has been added to the amoxicillin to protect the antibiotic from certain enzymes that may destroy the amoxicillin before it can kill the bacteria.

It is used “off label” or “extra-label” to treat urinary tract infections and some other infections in dogs and cats. Many drugs are commonly prescribed for off-label use in veterinary medicine. In these instances, follow your veterinarian’s directions and cautions very carefully.

How do I give my pet amoxicillin-clavulanic acid?

Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid comes in a tablet and liquid suspension form.

  • Tablets and suspension are given orally (by mouth). 
  • If using the liquid form, shake well before measuring the dose and measure the dose carefully. 
  • This medication should be given to your pet with food.
  • Give this medication to your pet for the entire time prescribed by your veterinarian, even if it appears that your pet is feeling better.[MY1] 

This medication will take effect quickly, in about 1 to 2 hours, but outwardly, effects may take a few days to be recognized.

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

Give the missed dose as soon as you remember and then continue with the regular dosing schedule. If it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule. Do not give the pet two doses at once.

Are there any potential side effects from amoxicillin-clavulanic acid?

Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid may cause the following side effects:

  • stomach upset
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

If stomach upset occurs, try giving the medication with food. These signs should go away during treatment; if they continue, contact your veterinarian.

The following reactions are rare, but if they occur, contact your veterinarian immediately:

  • an allergic reaction such as irregular breathing, rash, fever, puffiness and swelling around the face

Drug sensitivities can develop over time with repeated exposure. Your pet may have no reaction after the first few doses, but may develop a sensitivity later. It is important to watch for signs of an allergic reaction over the entire course of treatment.

Other side effects may occur. If you notice anything unusual, contact your veterinarian immediately. This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours, although effects can be longer in pets with liver or kidney disease.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

  • This medication should be AVOIDED in animals allergic to penicillin-like drugs.
  • NEVER give this drug to rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, or other rodents, as it can cause life-threatening diarrhea.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

Certain medications should be USED WITH CAUTION when given with amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, including but not limited to:

  • inflammation or pain medicine (except narcotics)
  • pentoxifylline
  • chloramphenicol
  • erythromycin
  • tetracycline
  • cephalosporins

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking before starting any new treatment.

Is there any monitoring that needs to be done with this medication?

  • Your veterinarian may prescribe two different medications, and a drug interaction may be anticipated. In this case, your veterinarian may vary the dose and/or monitor your pet more closely.
  • Your veterinarian may schedule a follow-up visit for after the course of medication is complete to ensure the infection has been cleared and/or do additional testing to ensure this is the right medication for the type of infection that is present. In this case, follow your veterinarian’s directions.

How do I store amoxicillin-clavulanic acid?

  • Store tablets in a tightly sealed container, protected from light, at room temperature. 
  • Leave tablets in the manufacturer packaging until needed to ensure they are protected from air. 
  • Store the liquid medication in the refrigerator and keep it from freezing. 
  • Discard any unused liquid after 10 days or follow your veterinarian’s directions. 
  • Do not store this medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink or in damp places. The medicine may break down if exposed to heat or moisture. 
  • Keep medication out of reach of children and pets.

What should I do in case of emergency?

If you suspect an overdose or an adverse reaction to the medication, call your veterinary office immediately. If they are not available, follow their directions in contacting an emergency facility.

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