Chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) is an antimicrobial -- a class of drugs used to kill or inhibit the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi and viruses -- that has several different uses in canine veterinary medicine. It is primarily used as an antiseptic. When used appropriately, it is non-toxic and non-irritating.
Veterinarians often use chlorhexidine gluconate as a dental treatment, including rinsing out a dog's mouth before, during or after professional dental procedures, such as treating gingivitis or periodontitis. At home, dog owners may apply chlorhexidine products to their dogs' teeth to fight plaque and other periodontal problems. CHG products can be applied using a gauze sponge, a cotton-tipped applicator, a finger brush or a spray.
Chlorhexidine gluconate is also used as a topical treatment. Veterinarians may use the drug to disinfect skin wounds, or to clean the site of an incision before surgery. CHG is also contained in medicated shampoos used to treat fungal infections of the skin. Sometimes it's used to treat canine ear infections, or otitis. Because each usage calls for different percentages of CHG solution, dog owners should consult with a trained professional concerning dosages.