Convenia’s Many Uses

As the use of Convenia long-acting antibiotic injection widens many readers are writing in with questions about it.

“Can it be used for upper respiratory infections?”

“Can it be used for urinary tract infections?”

“Can it be used for skin infections?”

The answer to all of these questions is “yes”. In fact, your pet’s doctor is licensed to use any medication approved for use in the United States by the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, he may use unapproved medications under strict supervision and with permission if he is part of a valid research program.

In general, antibiotics are indicated for the removal of bacterial infections from the body. Some antibiotics, by their chemical and physical characteristics, penetrate certain organs or parts of the body better than others. These qualities in antibiotics are often a major factor in our choice of medication from the thousands of antibiotics available.

Convenia, from Pfizer Animal Health,  is approved for use in skin infections. The cephalosporin class of antibiotics has long been used for dermatologic purposes because it has a broad spectrum of effectiveness on a wide variety of bacteria and a strong ability to accumulate in the skin, where skin infections abide.

Cephalosporins, however, also have great usefulness in other organ systems and Convenia has proven itself in widespread use.

As its name implies, Convenia is very convenient because of its ability to take the place of twice-daily and thrice-daily oral antibiotics. Sometimes that characteristic is lifesaving, such as the cat who can’t be pilled or the dog whose gastrointestinal (GI) tract doesn’t tolerate oral antibiotics.

I had just such a case as the latter example this week. Benji is a little mixed-breed dog with severely infected lick granulomas on both rear legs. Benji also has terrible dental disease and a very sore mouth to go with it. He’s also a little too smart for his own good.

We had dispensed an oral antibiotic for his skin and on the first day he took it in a treat. On day two he refused the treat, but took it in a piece of bread. On day three he refused the treat and the bread, but took the medicine in a small piece of bologna. On day four…OK, you’re already ahead of me. Before a week was out Benji was refusing all forms of disguise for the oral medication.

Furthermore, Benji was vomiting shortly after each dose and his stool was a little loose. These are not uncommon problems with oral forms of cephalosporins. Adding yogurt to his diet helped, and his owner was even able to disguise the medication in the yogurt.

For one day.

When it came down to a no-treats-are-working situation it was time to give a pill conventionally. Open the mouth and push it behind the tongue. Because of Benji’s sore mouth, though, that wasn’t working, either.

We knew we were on the right track with the cephalosporin because both lick granuloma lesions were looking better.

Enter Convenia.

Because it was not oral, the GI tract problems should disappear.

Because it is in the cephalosporin family it should give us ongoing improvement in the skin lesions.

And, it did. Benji is now feeling much better and his legs are looking great.

We have performed preanesthesia laboratory testing and all results are good. Benji is fifteen years of age and will be very healthy after we take care of his oral problems.

Benji is scheduled for that procedure in August and we expect to have him around for another five years of happy companionship.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.


  1. Hi Dr. Randolph,

    I found your website and have been reading it with great interest. I have a 5 year old feral, Rosie. I took her to the vet today, and she has some gingivitis. Because she is feral, and difficult to pill, the vet opted to start with an injection of Covenia, to see if it helps. She will also need a dental cleaning and possibly another line of treatment down the road. However, he did say that on occasion the inflammation clears up with the use of Covenia.

    Are there any other resources you would recommend that I could read up on, in terms of how to best treat this? For instance, I have also read that treating cats that test positively for Bartonella often has an impact on gingivitis in cats. (I know that they are working on a stem cell treatment for this, although it is probably light years away.)

    I would like as much information as possible so that I can be as informed as possible, pending her next appointment.
    Any suggestions most welcome.

    Thank you!

  2. My 10 yr old male cat started getting recurring sinus infections about 6 months ago. The vet’s office started him on powdered Lysine but that really didn’t seem to help. He received a Convenia shot and his thick snot cleared up in a matter of days. However, the sneezing and mucus came back 2 months later. We took him in for another shot of Convenia and again, his infection cleared up. 2 months later the symptoms returned – knowing that Convenia helped him, I called the vets office for his “bi-monthly” shot of Convenia b/c it seems to be the only thing that has helped. However, they said that they didn’t want to keep injecting him with this drug and that I should use the Lysine and steam him to try and get the infection to clear up. My question is: Is there a problem with injecting my cat with Convenia on a regular basis since it seems to help? Or am I just putting a “band-aid” on the real problem?

    • “Or am I just putting a “Band-Aid” on the real problem?” Probably. Most of these kitties have an underlying problem such as Rhinotracheitis (which you’re not going to fix because it’s a Herpesvirus), foreign body or cancer, with the vast majority being Rhinotracheitis. Ultimately, it’s up to your attending veterinarian to decide what medication to give on what schedule. Thanks for reading!

    • My 11 yo cat was treated for upper respiratory & cough with Convenia. She became completely off form altogether & 2- 3 days after treatment turned completely against her food. Is now nearly 2 weeks since she ate a finger tip size piece of Tuna. For last 2 days she has taken very little water only a few laps & so weak she lies down just staring at water dish. Is totally confused lethargic & sleeping all the time. Now of course no bowel movement as she hasn’t eaten. Her nose is oozing green mucous all the time. I have tried steam via diffuser over last few days but looks like she is on the way out. She was fine active eating normally before this infection. I feel Convenia has done her more harm than good. I don’t think she’ll pull out of this due ti her weak condition. It is 14 days today since the Convenia injection was administered to her. It would appear to me that she was allergic to Convenia. If penicillin isn’t suitable for many humans then how can a vet go ahead & take a chance that a cat will be ok with Convenia??? I am distraught at her sickly condition. Any views on this?

  3. Four days ago (Fri.) my 7-year-old, 13-lb kitty was diagnosed with a UTI during pre-anesthesia bloodwork for a dental cleaning. I was sent home with pain meds and Clavamox to begin that evening. She was eating fine that first night until she vomited right before bed and then refused food all weekend (except for showing some interest in the occasional treat after the pain meds were discontinued). She returned to vet this morning (Mon.) and received a shot to settle her stomach, a B vitamin to stimulate appetite, and a Convenia shot since the Clavamox was deemed unsuitable for her (due to causing vomiting). I’ve just discovered all the scare stories about Convenia online and I’m terrified. She’s shown no improvement yet (but no worsening either). It’s been 4 hours and they told me the meds should take effect in an hour. The vet did not mention decreased appetite/lethargy when I asked about possible side effects. Are those really so rare that it’s perfectly safe to give to a kitty who already isn’t eating? What kinds of symptoms would indicate a possible life-threatening reaction? For example, she feels feverish to me, but that’s probably just my worries spiraling out of control.

    • I like the part about “probably just my worries spiraling out of control.” I know there is a ton of stories on the internet about Convenia causing problems, I just haven’t seen it. I have seen Clavamox cause loss of appetite, vomiting and lethargy, and it can take a couple of days for those side effects to dissipate. That doesn’t happen very often, but it’s disturbing when it does. I sometimes use a probiotic (I like Proviable, but use the one your veterinarian recommends) in cases like hers to get the good bacteria going again in the intestinal tract during and after antibiotic administration. Write back and tell us how she is. Thanks for reading, Dr. Randolph.

      • Thank you so much for your quick reply and for helping ease my fears. The vet has promised a call back later in the day to check up on her, so I will ask about the probiotic. Hoping I can return to update you with good news before long!

      • My kitty is now all better and seems to have suffered no ill effects from the Convenia injection! To other pet owners: don’t let all the horror stories about Convenia get you worked into a frenzy; my kitty tolerated it well and she typically has a pretty sensitive system.

  4. Convenia has helped my 14 yr old cat with his breathing problems. One shot lasts between 5-6 months before symptoms return. No side effects to date..

    • Susan, what kind of breathing issues does your cat have? My baby suffers from breathing problems due to his upper respiratory infection caused by Herpes Virus. They think it is all viral, and therefore antibiotics won’t help. I am at the point I have to try something. He has no quality of life. I am unable to pill him due to his breathing difficulties. Please share anything you can with me.

  5. My 18 yr old cat was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. And I’m fearing it might turn into pneumonia. The vet recommended the Convenia antibiotic. After doing some research on line, I am even more confused. Is this shot just for skin and organ treatment? Do you have any input on whether the Convenia shot was the right way to go or should I have gone with my gut and requested the Clavamox that I usually get for this situation?

    • We use Convenia and many other drugs extra-label every day. I’ve used Convenia in untold numbers of kittens and adult cats, with excellent results. While your kitty may or may not respond to treatment, you can feel very comfortable with your decision to accept the use of Convenia.

  6. I recently took in a stray shihtzu with a horrible mouth infection. Can a convenia injection help clear up that type of infection?

    • I have found that Convenia does an excellent job on oral infections. However, a basic principle of infection control is removing complicating factors, and thorough dental prophylaxis is foundational to long-term success. Thanks for reading, Dr. Randolph.

  7. My 11 year old diabetic cat has FUO for over a month. He’s had a couple of injections of Convenia. He also has had several injections of Carprofen, which takes away his fever & makes him normal for a few days. When it wears off, the fever comes back. Blood panel plus Xrays are all normal. Any suggestions?

    • 1. Has the urine been cultured? Convenia is broad spectrum, but, if any one antibiotic killed all bacteria there wouldn’t be 500 on the market. 2. Has he been radiographed for stones? 3. Is he on a special food for stress, such as Hill’s Prescription Diet c/d Stress? 4. Special contrast X-rays might be required to determine whether he has a mass in his bladder. 4. Has he had blood cultures? Your veterinarian may have already thought of these things. Please write back and let us know how he’s doing.

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