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Antibiotics for Paw Infections in Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

If your dog suffers from a paw infection, it's important for your vet to culture a tissue sample and identify the bacterial cause. Prescribing the correct antibiotic is crucial for your dog's recovery.


  • The proper amount of topical antibiotic therapy can reduce the need or length of time necessary for systemic antibiotic therapy.

Recurrent Infections

If your dog previously has been treated for infections -- whether or not the paw is involved -- it's possible that he will develop resistance to certain antibiotics. Always let your vet know about any prior antibiotic therapy your dog has received.

Choosing the Antibiotic

The type of antibiotic your vet chooses for any kind of skin infection involving pus -- or pyoderma -- depends on the result of the culture and infection depth, but these aren't the only considerations. The needs of the individual dog and owner also must be taken into account. Those needs may rule out certain antibiotics because of:

  • Cost
  • Potential side effects
  • Frequency of administration.

The bacteria most often found in canine skin infection cultures is Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, so a broad-spectrum antibiotic targeting that germ with little impact on "good" bacteria is the first choice. These include:

  • Clindamycin
  • Lincomycin
  • Erythromycin.

Antibiotics not useful for skin infections include:

  • Tetracycline
  • Penicillin
  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin.

Claw Infections

If your dog is diagnosed with a claw infection, your vet will prescribe the proper antibiotic based on the culture. It's a long-term treatment, with the dog receiving antibiotics for at least two weeks past the point where the infection appears healed.

Interdigital Furunculosis

Interdigital furunculosis, the formal name for abscesses between the toes, cause your dog a great deal of pain. These pus-filled boils, a form of pyoderma, result from a deep-set bacterial infection. As one abscess heals, another may pop up in nearby toe webbing. The vet lances the growth to remove the pus, and may recommend soaking the affected foot in water with an antibiotic added as part of the initial treatment. She also may recommend applying topical antibiotic ointments and using antibiotic bandage wraps on the foot.

When a vet prescribes oral antibiotics for systemic treatment of furuncles, it's imperative that the dog owner administer the entire course as directed, even though the animal may require pills up to three times a day for two months or more. Not finishing the entire course can make abscesses continually recur. It also can increase the odds of your dog developing a methicillin resistant S. pseudintermedius infection. If that's the case, systemic oral or injectable antibiotics may no longer treat the infection, and your vet must rely on topical antibiotics instead, which aren't always effective.