Ciprofloxacin - Ophthalmic

By Kayla Hyland, DVM; Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, MPH

What is ciprofloxacin ophthalmic?

Ciprofloxacin ophthalmic solution and ointment (brand name Ciloxan®) are antibacterial agents used in the treatment of bacterial infections of the eye in cats and dogs (e.g., conjunctivitis or keratitis).

Its use in dogs and cats is "off label" or "extra label". 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 is ciprofloxacin ophthalmic given?

Ciprofloxacin ophthalmic is a liquid that comes in a bottle with a dropper tip, or as an ointment. It is important not to touch the dropper or ointment tip on the eye or any other surface, as this may contaminate the product.

You may need assistance when administering eye drops to your pet (see the handouts “Applying Eye Drops to Cats”, “Applying Eye Drops to Dogs,” “Applying Eye Ointments to Cats,” and “Applying Eye Ointments to Dogs” for tips).

Follow the directions that your veterinarian has provided, as dosage instructions differ depending on the infection being treated.

If you are giving more than one eye medication, make sure you allow at least 5 to 10 minutes between medications, or follow the specific instructions from your veterinarian.

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

What if I miss giving my pet the medication?

If you miss a dose, give it when you remember; however, if it is close to time for the next dose, skip the dose you missed, give the medication at the next scheduled time, and continue with the regular dosing schedule. Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses.

It is very important to give the medication for the full length of time your veterinarian has recommended, even if your pet appears to feel better.

Are there any potential side effects?

The most frequent side effects are eye pain, redness, itching, tearing, blurry vision, and a bad taste in the mouth. Crystals may appear in the treated eyes for a few days after starting treatment but should go away after a few days.

Some dogs are hypersensitive or allergic to ciprofloxacin. Difficulty breathing may indicate an allergic reaction to this medication.

This short-acting medication should stop working within 24 hours.

Are there any risk factors for this medication?

Some dogs are hypersensitive or allergic to ciprofloxacin. If your pet is allergic to ciprofloxacin or other quinolones, these drops should not be used. If your pet’s eyes become inflamed and red, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Ciprofloxacin should be used with caution in young animals that are still developing bones and teeth.

Individuals who are allergic to quinolone compounds should avoid handling this product. Avoid contact with eyes and skin. In case of contact with the skin, wash with soap and water. In case of contact with eyes, flush with water for 15 minutes. Contact your doctor if irritation develops or persists.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

Certain drugs may interact with ciprofloxacin ophthalmic. It is important to tell your veterinarian about any medications (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies) that your pet is taking.

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

Monitor to ensure that the medication is working and monitor for adverse effects. If no improvement has occurred in 7 days or if the eye looks cloudy, contact your veterinarian.

How do I store ciprofloxacin?

Ciprofloxacin ophthalmic should be stored in a tightly sealed container, in the refrigerator or at room temperature, and protected from direct sunlight. Do not allow ciprofloxacin ophthalmic solution or ointment to freeze. Keep the bottle tightly closed.

If the solution changes color, becomes cloudy, or if particles are seen, do not use it and contact your veterinarian for a new bottle.

What should I do in case of emergency?

When used as an eye medication, overdoses are unlikely. If your pet eats the medication, toxic effects could occur. 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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