Major Uses

Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections in dogs and cats. The drug fights a broad range of bacteria, and works by preventing bacterial protein synthesis. Chloramphenicol may be prescribed to treat skin and wound infections, bone infections, central nervous system infections like meningitis, and intestinal tract infections. The drug has also been used to treat protozoa infections and tick-transmitted diseases. Because of possible toxicity, the drug is prohibited for use in animals that will be used for human consumption.

Common Precautions

The most common side effects seen in dogs and cats include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, and bone marrow suppression. An abnormally low platelet count may also be seen in cats. Cats seem to be more sensitive to adverse reactions with the use of chloramphenicol. The drug should be used with extreme caution in animals that have impaired kidney function, or those with liver failure. Chloramphenicol should not be used in pregnant animals, nursing animals, or baby animals (especially kittens). Animals with preexisting bleeding abnormalities should not take the drug. Humans administering chloramphenicol should take proper precautions to not be exposed directly to the drug; aplastic anemia is a common human reaction.

Drug interactions are a possibility with the use of chloramphenicol, and the prescribing veterinarian needs to be informed of all other medications the pet is taking prior to administration. Some examples of drugs that may interact include those that control epilepsy and other antibiotics.

Chloramphenicol should not be administered to animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug.


Chloramphenicol tablets, capsules, and oral suspensions should be stored in tight, childproof, light resistant containers at room temperature.


The drug is available in 50 mg, 100 mg, 250 mg, 500 mg and 1g tablets or capsules. There is also a 30 mg/mL oral suspension formulation available. The typical dose for dogs is about 25 mg/lb (50 mg/kg) by mouth every eight hours. For cats, the typical dose is 6 - 10 mg/lb (12.5 - 20 mg/kg) by mouth every 12 hours. Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.

If a dose is missed it should be given as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, the missed dose should be skipped and the regular dosing schedule can continue. Two doses should never be administered at once.

This information is for general reference only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition of your pet. It's intended as a general reference, this information may not include all possible uses, precautions, directions, reactions (including allergic), drug interactions, or withdrawal times. Always consult your local veterinarian and have your pet examined for any advice concerning the diagnosis and treatment of your pet, including which products and doses are most appropriate. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. VetDepot is not a pharmacy. All prescription products are dispensed by our Pharmacy Partner. Article last updated 2/2014.