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

What is clindamycin?

Clindamycin (brand names Antirobe®, Cleocin®, Clinsol®, Clintabs®) is an antibiotic used to treat a range of bacterial infections in dogs and cats. It is often used to treat wounds, pyoderma, abscesses, bone and dental infections, and toxoplasmosis.

Its use to treat certain infections, such as toxoplasmosis, 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 clindamycin given?

Clindamycin is available in oral liquid, tablets, and capsules. It may be given with or without food, but never give this medication as a dry pill. Give with a moist treat or small amount of liquid. If the pill becomes lodged in the throat or esophagus, it may cause ulcers.

Clindamycin has a very bitter taste, so you may need to disguise the medication in food for your pet to take it.

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 or my shipment is late?

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 it at the next scheduled time, and return to the regular dosing schedule.

Never give your pet two doses at once or give extra doses. 

Are there any potential side effects?

Gastrointestinal upset in both dogs and cats has been reported, including vomiting, diarrhea, and occasionally bloody diarrhea in dogs.

Cats may experience drooling and lip smacking after taking the medication.

It is important to never give a cat a dry pill, if using capsules or tablets, as it can damage the esophagus, the muscular tube that delivers food from the mouth to the stomach (esophagitis).

If your pet appears to have trouble swallowing or eating, or has bloody diarrhea, 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 not be given to pets that are allergic to it or other similar drugs (e.g., azithromycin, lincomycin).

This medication should be used with caution in pets that have liver or kidney damage. Avoid use of this medication in guinea pigs, hamsters, chinchillas, and rabbits due to potentially fatal gastrointestinal dysbiosis.

Are there any drug interactions I should be aware of?

Certain medications can interact with clindamycin, so 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?

If your pet is taking this medication for extended periods of time (for more than 30 days), your veterinarian may perform liver and kidney function tests.

How do I store clindamycin?

Clindamycin tablets, capsules, and oral drops should be stored in an airtight container protected from sunlight and kept at room temperature.

If your veterinarian has compounded a special formula for your pet, follow the directions on the label for storage and expiration.

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.

Related Articles