Antibiotics treat bacterial infections in dogs, and they are among the most commonly recommended medicines for dogs and any other pets with an infection occurring. Infections can develop in any area of the body, including the mouth, skin, ears, eyes, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, lungs, central nervous system, and other organs.
Antibiotics are primarily used to kill or inhibit bacterial growth in the body. However, occasionally unfavorable responses occur. This can result in various repercussions—including aggression—which leads us to wonder if antibiotics can cause dogs to become aggressive or not.
Can Antibiotics Make Dogs Aggressive?
Maybe. The answer to this question is a little challenging. Aggression in dogs may develop as a result of prolonged or improper antibiotic usage. This increase in aggression can be observed in all animal species (including dogs) and is affected by various variables, including particular genes, neurological systems, neurotransmitters, pheromones, hormones, social interactions, and other elements in the surrounding environment.
When having an allergic reaction to antibiotics, canines may sometimes exhibit aggressive behavior. Antibiotic-induced aggression is most commonly observed in dogs suffering from nervous system problems or due to overdosage of the medication.
Nevertheless, most dogs are safe to consume antibiotics without much issue (i.e., they do not exhibit any aggression due to the antibiotic).
If your veterinarian has recommended antibiotics for your dog, inquire about the potential side effects (which may include aggressiveness) and whether or not there is a way to prevent them. If you witness any adverse effects in your dog while giving him or her antibiotics, contact your veterinarian immediately.
All antibiotics do not have the same adverse effects, though many of them are similar. Fortunately, most antibiotics are typically safe and only have a small number of significant side effects in dogs at times, but this is somewhat rare. However, it is always a possibility that undesirable consequences may occur when introducing any new substance into your dog’s body.
Aggression Types Caused By Adverse Reactions to Antibiotics
Some of the most common adverse effects of antibiotic usage in dogs that are associated with aggressive behavior are listed below.
- Neurological aggression: Some antibiotic classes can induce neurologic adverse effects such as dilated pupils, ataxia (drunken gait), nystagmus (involuntary fast eye movement), head tilting to one side, and even seizures in some patients who take them. They can cause aggressive behavior in dogs if the nervous system is overstimulated or excited.
- Microbiome-associated aggression: Antibiotics also have the potential to harm beneficial bacteria in the body in addition to destroying the germs that are causing an illness. Dogs have beneficial bacteria in their bodies, found in the gastrointestinal system and skin, that may be affected by this.
These microorganisms provide critical tasks in the body’s overall health and well-being. They serve to strengthen the dog’s immune system, aid in digestion, and even assist in processing essential vitamins and minerals. When antibiotics enter the body, they frequently cause the death of both helpful and potentially harmful microorganisms.
A dog’s typical physical state may alter, leading to aggressiveness in the dog and secondary illnesses, such as yeast infections of the skin or ears. They may also experience GI symptoms (such as diarrhea) as a result of the gut imbalance. It is even possible that the effects of these imbalances in the body will not manifest themselves for many weeks after taking antibiotics as well.
- Allergy-associated aggression: Antibiotics can cause severe allergic responses in our canine companions, but this is a rather unusual occurrence and very rare. Dogs, like people, can acquire allergies to any medication at any time; therefore, a dog’s prior tolerance to a specific antibiotic does not rule out the possibility of an allergic reaction to that antibiotic in the future.
- Mild to severe allergic responses: It can develop immediately after taking an antibiotic (anaphylaxis) or after taking the antibiotic for a longer period (hypersensitivity). These allergies may become intolerable at some point, resulting in highly aggressive behavior in dogs. For example, if your pooch is having difficulty breathing, he may exhibit severe aggressive behavior in response to this distress. Try not to interpret things on your own, and visit a veterinarian when any significant changes are causing concern.
- Resistance-associated aggression: When it comes to using antibiotics, there is also concern about antibiotic resistance in dogs and humans. This occurs when bacteria develop resistance to the antibiotics that were previously used to kill them. If you are using the same antibiotic to which your pooch is already resistant, then that antibiotic usage may lead to stress and cause aggression due to its ineffectiveness.
So, be sure to discuss your dog’s history and previous medications with your vet before giving any antibiotics.
Will steroids make my dog aggressive?
Although aggression isn’t the most often seen behavioral alteration associated with corticosteroid usage, it does occur, unfortunately. Dogs may suddenly develop aggressive behavior when any corticosteroid (both long-acting and short-acting) is administered.
Sometimes, the hostility is minimal. The dog may become easily frightened, and he’ll respond with a growl or bark but doesn’t do anything else. Other dogs, on the other hand, appear to be downright cranky. In some circumstances, you may be able to put up with your dog’s over-sensitive and cranky behavior for the duration of the medication’s effectiveness. If aggression persists, though, then you should consult your veterinarian. Perhaps another medication might be effective in the same way without causing the behavioral side effects.
Will a raw diet make my dog aggressive?
No, this is a myth. The raw diet is composed of natural raw ingredients explicitly made for canines. This does not make your pooch aggressive whatsoever. You will see aggression in a dog only when you change their diet suddenly and significantly (which is very detrimental to their health).
Related Reading: Do Bully Sticks Make Dogs Aggressive?
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.