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Is Neosporin Safe to Use on Dogs?

Your dog has a minor injury and you’ve got just the thing for it, but is Neosporin safe to use on dogs?

Dogs get cuts, scrapes and other minor injuries from time to time and it’s tempting to reach into our first aid kit for medications formulated for humans. After all, we commonly treat our own minor wounds with topical antibiotics like Neosporin.

What’s in Neosporin That Could Hurt my Dog?

Neosporin is the brand name for a triple antibiotic ointment or cream designed to be used topically on minor wounds to human skin. It comes in regular and extra strength formulations, and it sometimes contains an ingredient that numbs pain. The three active ingredients include bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B.

Each antibiotics works in a slightly different way and attacks different types of bacteria on the skin. Even though it isn’t meant to be ingested, the small amount your dog could lick away from the wound won’t harm him/her.

There’s nothing inherently dangerous in using Neosporin on dogs.

When Not to Use Neosporin on Dogs

Over-the-counter medications all have one thing in common: an expiry date. If it’s just a few months past the expiry date it’s likely still effective. However, if that tube of Neosporin has been sitting in your bathroom medicine cabinet for the past six years, throw it away and buy a new one.

Using outdated Neosporin won’t hurt you or your dog, but it likely won’t help either. When using it as a first-aid defense, the point is to keep harmful bacteria away from the wood to avoid serious infection. That’s why it’s always a good idea to update your first aid kit (and your dog’s first aid kit) at least once a year.

Things To Keep in Your First Aid Kit

First aid kits are designed for the everyday bumps, burns, and bruises that come with an active life. The same holds true for dogs. In fact, dog owners who have a first aid kit on hand are less likely to reach for an alternative to what they actually need.

If you have a first aid kit, consider topping up the supplies and adding a few that could double for the dog. There are several first aid kits that come pre-packed and designed specifically for busy dogs.

Have a look at the dog first aid kit gallery I’ve compiled below. These are few of the top doggy first aid kits on the market. They’re an inexpensive way to ward off an expensive infection.

Sometimes Neosporin Just Isn’t Enough

Hurricanes, flash floods, sinkholes, forest fires, and other natural disasters are more of a threat now than ever before. Making sure the family is ready for an evacuation should also include a plan for your pets. As shown above, there are hundreds of really inexpensive first aid kits available, but they’re not going to cut it in a real emergency.

The Best Choice for The Concerned Pet Owner: Pet Evac Pak.

With a fully equipped Pet Evac Pak, you’re going to have everything you need in one place.

You can buy a $12.00 dog first aid kit but I guarantee you’ll be shopping for all of the extras (saline solution, etc.) that just didn’t come with the original package.

Neosporin is safe to use on dogs, but you won’t need it with a Pet Evac Pak. This thing will protect two large dogs in any emergency and has a shelf life of 5 years.

It’s Amazing What’s In It!

  • Vet Wrap
  • ASAP Pet Wound Ointment
  • Clotit Blood Stopping Powder
  • Tweezers (perfect for grasping and pulling ticks)
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • **Look at these non-slip, breathable PawFlex Gauze pads – won’t stick to wounds.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide Spray
  • Instant Cold Pack (tip: for dogs at risk of overheating, place a cold pack under their armpits and move the dog to a shaded area).
  • ID tag and Card
  • Leads
  • Mylar Blankets
  • LED lights
  • Waste disposal bags
  • collapsible bowls

Is Neosporin Safe to Use on Dogs or is There Something Better?

It is not necessary to use Neosporin on a minor injury in a dog. Most of these wounds will heal quickly on their own. Keep them clean, prevent your pet from licking them, and you will likely be fine.

To use Neosporin on dogs, get the original formula and avoid using the extra strength version. Even the original formula of Neosporin contains higher amounts of the active ingredients than those formulated specifically for pets.

If you want, you can use a version that contains the pain reliever Pramoxine. This may make your dog more comfortable while the injury heals.

Watch Out for the Eyes, Ears, and Mouth When Using Neosporin on dogs

Whether you’re using Neosporin on your dog, or an antibiotic ointment formulated especially for dogs, there should be an improvement within a few days. Occasionally, bacterium get past our best efforts. An infection will look darker red, it may begin to swell, and pus may develop.

If the wound still hasn’t shown any improvement after four or five days, please have a licensed veterinarian take a look.

A Deeper Dive Into the Antibiotics Used in Neosporin

Neomycin Sulfate

This is an antibiotic that damages gram positive and negative bacteria. It has been found to decrease the likelihood of bacterial infections when used prophylactically. So, it is considered a good product to use to prevent an infection from starting!

Neomycin sulfate is used in veterinary medicine orally to reduce the number of bacteria in the colon (either pre or post surgery) or the liver. It is also commonly found in topical veterinary products and as a component of eye medications.

Bacitracin Zinc

This antibiotic is very effective at preventing and fighting infections by gram positive bacteria. It is often used in topical skin and eye medications. It is frequently used in conjunction with other antibiotics in both human and veterinary products.

In veterinary medicine, bacitracin is usually found in medications used to treat minor skin infections and for infections of the eye. It is not used internally because it can have toxic effects.

The most common side effect of bacitracin zinc in dogs is an irritation or inflammation of the skin or membranes of the eye. It is considered safe to use topically on dogs.

Polymyxin B Sulfate

This is a more narrow spectrum antibiotic that is very effective at treating gram negative bacterial infections. It works by damaging the cell membrane of the bacteria, which prevents it from reproducing and kills it.

Polymyxin is commonly used in veterinary eye and ear medications, often in conjunction with other antibiotics and/or a steroid ingredient. Since it targets a narrow range of bacteria, it is not used in many veterinary topical products. It is not typically used in oral medications for dogs.

The most common side effect from using Polymyxin B is an irritation or inflammation of the skin, eye membrane or ear canal. It is considered safe to use topically on dogs.

Pramoxine Hydrochloride (Pain/Itch Reliever)

Pramoxine HCl is a topical anesthetic used to reduce pain, inflammation and itching from minor skin problems. Some formulations of Neosporin contain this pain reliever.

It is often found in topical medications and sprays used to treat skin infections, minor injuries and rashes in dogs and cats. You can find it in both prescription and over-the-counter products.

Side effects from using Pramoxine are not common, but can include redness, irritation or inflammation of the skin.

Pramoxine is considered safe to use topically on dogs.

Applying Neosporin on a Dog

After clipping away any fur and cleaning the injury, put neosporin directly on the injured skin, and rub it in gently.

Remove any excess with a sterile gauze wipe (don’t use a cotton ball or tissue, as they leave fibers behind that could irritate the wound).

Avoid getting it in the fur. You can re-apply the Neosporin up to three times a day. You may need to gently clean the area first. If the area looks worse, spreads or shows signs of infection, go to your veterinarian.

Is Neosporin Safe to Use on Dogs?  Yes, with the following guidelines:

  • Minor cuts, scratches and abrasions
  • Small, shallow cuts
  • Insect bites and other small wounds

Avoid Using It On:

  • Animal bites or puncture wounds
  • Rashes
  • Abscesses or infected wounds
  • Surgical incisions/stitches unless directed by your veterinarian
  • Any injury that extends near the eyes or mouth, or into the ear canal
  • Any injury that your pet can reach and possibly lick (use an Elizabethan collar, clothing or a bandage to prevent this)

Please come back and read more posts that can have a positive impact on your dog. If you were able to get useful information from this post, I hope you’ll share it so that others can benefit!

NEXT UP: Tracheal Collapse in Dogs – 5 Easy Ways to Help Your Dog


Jen Clifford has a B.A. in Biology from Reed College. She was a field biologist for several years, and then spent 10 years working in veterinary medicine as a receptionist and technician.  Jen is currently a freelance writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her tribe of pets. She is a passionate animal lover who is dedicated to helping people find solutions to their pet-related challenges. You can find more of her work at her website

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