Topicals (Creams, Ointments, Lotions, and Powders)

At VetMedics Compounding Pharmacy, one of our dosage forms is topical medications.

What are topical medications?

A topical medication is one that is applied to the skin. Topical medications for pets include creams, ointments, lotions, and powders.

What is the advantage of using topicals to give animals their medication?

If a pet has trouble taking medication orally, topicals are a great solution. They are typically easy to apply and very efficacious. Topical preparations are most commonly used locally to treat wounds, lesions, and allergic conditions.

What is the difference between all topical medications?

Creams are non-greasy water-based products, ointments have an oily base, lotions are liquid preparations, and powders are dry solids that are made of many exceptionally fine particles that flow freely when shaken. All of these topical medications are similar in their application.

Are there any downsides to topical medications?

Sometimes, topical medications — such as creams, gels, and ointments — can mat the fur and make it greasy and/or sticky. This is not ideal for any pet, especially one that is a show animal where appearance is especially important. At VetMedics Compounding Pharmacy, we are happy to formulate topical medications using a base that soothes skin and will not mat the animal’s fur while still being efficacious.

How quickly do topical medications work?

Topical formulations are typically designed for their local effects. They generally work better if they are gently massaged into the skin for a few moments after application.

What should you know before administering a topical medication to your pet?

It is important to know that topical medications are for external use only.
It is also important that you do not allow your pet to lick and/or swallow any topical medications, as they can be harmful if ingested. For some curious pets, this might be easier said than done. If you are applying medication on a sensitive or painful area, try to get someone else to hold your pet so he or she does not flinch or run away. Another good idea is to apply topical medications right before mealtime so that your pet becomes more focused on the food rather than the medication. If a pet continues to try to lick and/or swallow the medication, an Elizabethan collar can be used.
Finally, be sure to read any directions about the application of the topical medication. Some call for the use of gloves or avoiding the eyes, as they can be harmful to human skin or eyes.


If you have any questions about topical medications as a dosage form for your pet, please give us a call. At VetMedics Compounding Pharmacy, we will do whatever we can to keep pets healthy and thriving!