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Gentamicin for Horses: Indications and Best Practices

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

Gentamicin is a potent antibiotic commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat a wide range of bacterial infections in horses. Its effectiveness and safety make it a valuable tool for equine veterinarians. In this blog post, we will explore the indications for gentamicin in horses and provide essential information for horse owners and caretakers.

Indications for Gentamicin in Horses

  1. Respiratory Infections: Gentamicin is often prescribed for horses suffering from respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis. These conditions can result from bacterial overgrowth in the respiratory tract, and gentamicin's broad-spectrum action helps combat the infection effectively.

  2. Joint Infections: Horses are prone to joint infections, which can be debilitating if not treated promptly. Gentamicin can be administered directly into the affected joint, providing targeted therapy and minimizing the risk of systemic side effects.

  3. Skin and Soft Tissue Infections: Gentamicin is effective against various skin and soft tissue infections, including cellulitis and abscesses. It helps control bacterial growth at the site of infection, promoting quicker healing.

  4. Urogenital Infections: Infections in the urinary and reproductive tracts can affect horses, particularly mares. Gentamicin may be used to treat conditions like metritis and pyometra.

  5. Gastrointestinal Infections: Horses can develop gastrointestinal infections such as colitis. Gentamicin can be administered orally or through a nasogastric tube to target the infection in the digestive tract.

  6. Systemic Infections: In cases where a bacterial infection has become systemic, gentamicin can be administered intravenously to combat the bacteria throughout the horse's body. It's a crucial tool in fighting severe infections.

Best Practices for Administering Gentamicin to Horses

  1. Consult a Veterinarian: Never administer gentamicin or any other medication to your horse without first consulting a veterinarian. Proper diagnosis and dosage are essential for effective treatment and preventing antibiotic resistance.

  2. Follow Dosage Guidelines: Gentamicin should be administered at the prescribed dosage and schedule. Underdosing can lead to treatment failure, while overdosing can cause adverse effects.

  3. Monitor for Side Effects: Keep a close eye on your horse while they are on gentamicin. Common side effects may include changes in appetite, diarrhea, and changes in urination. If you notice any concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  4. Complete the Course: Finish the entire course of gentamicin, even if your horse's symptoms improve before the medication is gone. Stopping treatment prematurely can allow bacteria to develop resistance.

  5. Proper Storage: Store gentamicin as per the manufacturer's instructions. Ensure it is kept out of reach of children and animals.

  6. Prevent Contamination: Maintain strict hygiene when handling gentamicin. Use clean syringes and needles, and avoid contaminating the medication.

  7. Disposal: Dispose of used needles and syringes properly in accordance with local regulations.


Gentamicin is a valuable tool in equine veterinary medicine, helping to treat a wide range of bacterial infections in horses. However, its use should always be guided by a qualified veterinarian to ensure proper diagnosis, dosage, and monitoring. By following best practices, you can help your horse recover from infections safely and effectively. Always prioritize the health and well-being of your equine companion and consult a professional for any concerns.

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