Clavamox is an antibacterial drug that exhibits a broad spectrum of activity against both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. It contains amoxicillin which is a penicillin type of antibacterial agent that is added with another molecule – clavulanic acid – to help protect amoxicillin against an enzyme that is produced and secreted by bacteria. This ensures that amoxicillin is able to exert its bactericidal effects to the fullest extent.
Amoxicillin is a resilient penicillin, able to withstand the acidic nature of gastric fluids, and is more efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream compared to its predecessor, ampicillin. However, because of misuse of the antibiotic, some bacterial species especially those belonging to the Staphylococi genera have developed resistance to amoxicillin by producing beta-lactamase, an enzyme which serves to hasten the rate of degradation of amoxicillin. As such, clavulanic acid is added as an inhibiting or deactivating agent against this enzyme, freeing Amoxicillin to exert its full effects.
Clavamox is an antibacterial agent that is primarily indicated in the management of infections of the oral cavity, the bladder, the ureters, and the upper respiratory tract. It is also indicated in the prevention of periodontal diseases as a prophylactic antibiotic. Clavamox can also be given in dogs that have cuts and /or wounds that are at risk for superinfection or are already infected with the normal microbial flora of the canine skin.
Benefits of Clavamox
The following are the known benefits of using Clavamox for dogs.
- Treats infections of the skin and soft tissues including cellulitis, abscesses, and infected wounds
- Reduces the severity of skin inflammation associated with persistent pyodermas
- Kills bacteria that are highly susceptible to the antimicrobial properties of amoxicillin
- Generally well tolerated with very minimal side effects
- Available in either tablet or liquid form for ease of administration
How Clavamox Works
Clavamox is considered as a beta-lactam broad spectrum antibiotic, owing to its action in negating the effects of beta-lactamase produced by bacteria. As a penicillin, Clavamox works by attaching itself to the cell wall of vulnerable bacterial species. Specifically, amoxicillin prevents the creation or establishment of a bridge in between the peptidoglycan polymer chains which are very important components of the bacterial cell wall of many Gram-positive species and a few Gram-negative species. It should be understood that, while Gram-negative bacteria also contains peptidoglycan polymers on their cell walls, this comprises only 10 percent of the total structural components of the wall. On the other hand, the cell wall of Gram-positive bacteria is composed of 90% peptidoglycan polymers, making them more susceptible to amoxicillin.
As a result of the attachment of amoxicillin to the bacterial cell wall, the microorganism can no longer build a formidable cell wall which should protect it from attacks by immune system cells. This leads to the inability of the bacteria to propagate itself and thus, the infection is contained.
However, as we have said earlier, some species of bacteria produce beta-lactamase which effectively disrupts the activity of beta-lactam antibiotics. It is for this reason that Clavulanic acid is added to inhibit the action of beta-lactamase. As a result, this allows amoxicillin to attach itself to bacterial cell walls leading to their death.
Potential Side Effects
While amoxicillin and clavulanic acid are considered to be generally safe, it is not uncommon to see certain dogs react to any or both of these components. In most cases the following side effects may be observed.
- Skin redness or rashes
- Labored breathing
- Swelling in the lips, face, or tongue
- Increased body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
Generally, these side effects should subside within the next 24 to 48 hours. However, if there is diarrhea for more than 3 days, you might want to bring your pet to your veterinarian as prolonged passing of loose watery stools can lead to electrolyte abnormalities as well as acid-base imbalances. This is especially true if the diarrhea is also compounded by vomiting as this can lead to metabolic alkalosis in dogs.
Additionally, if any of the signs of an allergic reaction is observed in your dog, you should stop the administration of Clavamox altogether and bring your dog to your vet. Some of the signs of a severe allergic reaction can include shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, hives, skin rashes, and swelling of the tongue or even the whole face. If not treated promptly, this simple allergic reaction might lead to an anaphylactic reaction and shock.
It is always a good idea to observe your pooch while it is on Clavamox so you can easily determine if there is a sudden change in its behavior or condition. This should alert you to the possibility of a serious adverse reaction.
Things You Should Know about Clavamox
Clavamox is currently available in two presentations: tablets and drops. The tablet presentation is available in 2 forms: chewable and regular tablet. Clavamox is available in the following formulations.
- 5 milligram tablet with 50 mg Amoxicillin and 12.5 mg Clavulanic acid
- 125 milligram tablet with 100 mg Amoxicillin and 25 mg Clavulanic acid
- 250 milligram tablet with 200 mg Amoxicillin and 50 mg Clavulanic acid
- 375 milligram tablet with 300 mg Amoxicillin and 75 mg Clavulanic acid
- 15 milliliter drops with 50 mg Amoxicillin and 12.5 mg Clavulanic acid
If you do decide to get the Clavamox Drops, this is available in powdered form to which you need to add 14 mL of water to obtain the final solution amounting to 15 mL. Each mL of Clavamox Drops contains 50- and 12.5- milligrams of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, respectively.
What Your Vet Should Know before Prescribing Clavamox
Clavamox is generally safe. However, its metabolites will still have to be processed by the liver before being passed on through the kidneys for elimination. As such, it is important to let your veterinarian know if your pooch has been diagnosed with a liver or kidney disease before. Oftentimes, a reduction in the functioning of these two organs can lead to problems in the metabolism and elimination of Clavamox from the dog’s body. This can have lingering effects that, if overlooked, can lead to overdosing our dogs. Additionally, pregnant and lactating dogs should not receive the full dose of the antibiotic as amoxicillin can readily cross the placental barrier and has also been found in breastmilk, albeit in small quantities.
How to Give Clavamox to Your Dog
To minimize gastric irritation Clavamox should always be given with your pet’s food. It is for this reason that the chewable tablet formulation is preferred by many dog owners because it is a lot easier to mix into the dry kibbles of pets. To aid in its more efficient absorption, you are advised to provide your dog with plenty of water to drink as this can also help facilitate the better excretion of Clavamox metabolites in the canine kidneys.
For it to be effective, amoxicillin + clavulanic acid should be given for a minimum of 7 days but should not exceed 30 days. Generally, the length of the treatment is dependent on the type of bacterial infection as well as how the dog is responding to the treatment. Usually, dogs are started on a dose of 6.25 milligrams of Clavamox for every pound of the dog’s body weight. This is then given twice a day. For instance, if your dog weighs 20 pounds you are required to give it 125 milligrams of Clavamox (100 mg amxicillin + 25 mg clavulanic acid) twice every day for the next 7 to 10 days.
Do not remove the tablets from their foil packs unless you are ready to administer them. It is also advisable to store these at room temperature and away from heat and moisture.
What to Do if You Miss a Dose
In case you missed a dose, you should give the dose immediately, provided it is not near its next scheduled dose. Otherwise, forget the missed dose and just proceed with the next dosing schedule. Do not double up on the next dose.
What to Do in Case of Clavamox Overdose
If you suspect your dog has had an overdose of Clavamox, you need to bring it to the nearest emergency veterinary facility immediately. Some of the symptoms that may indicate Clavamox overdose include unusual hyperactivity, nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, rashes, and changes in the dog’s urinary patterns.
Some Drug Interactions
Like all drugs Clavamox has the tendency to be affected by other substances or will affect the action of other substances. Clavamox may react with other antibiotics like chloramphenicol, erythromycin, tetracycline, and other types of penicillin. It also can react with probenecid and allopurinol. The point is that if your pooch is taking any form of substance at all, be it medication or supplements, natural or synthetic, you should always tell your vet about these prior to giving Clavamox to your dog.
Clavamox is a great antibacterial agent with bactericidal activity against many different types of bacteria. It is very easy to use and comes in two different preparations. While it is generally safe, it is always better to consult with your vet even before giving it to your pet.