Published by Dr. Zak Saleh, PhD, MVSc, DVM in Antibiotic Resistance · 8 January 2020
Tags: Pets, and, Antibiotic, Resistance
Tags: Pets, and, Antibiotic, Resistance
Antibiotics and Your Pet: What You Need to Know
Antibiotic resistance is a growing concern in human medicine. But did you know that antibiotic resistance is also a rising issue in animal medicine? While the subject is often discussed with food producing animals, this global health issue is also affecting how veterinarians are able to treat our furry companions.
Antibiotics are used to treat various bacterial infections. Prior to the introduction of penicillin, many of these bacterial infections could have proven fatal. While antibiotics are an important part of human and animal medicine, the bacteria once susceptible to antibiotics is now evolving to resist treatment, proving more challenging to treat. Anytime antibiotics are used, this is contributing to the development of resistance, so it is important they are used carefully.
In order to ensure the longevity of effective antibiotic treatment for our furry loved ones, here are some tips to keep in mind if your pet is prescribed antibiotics.
Do Not Share Antibiotics with Your Pet
In an attempt to cut costs, it may be tempting to share your antibiotic prescription with your pet, if you happen to be taking the same antibiotic. Amoxicillin, Penicillin, Tetracycline and many other antibiotics can be used for treatment for both people and pets, however, the required dose to treat you versus your pet is vastly different. Antibiotic dosage is calculated by a healthcare professional based on weight, the type of infection and medical history. Likely, the prescribed dosage you have of antibiotics for yourself will be far too high for your pet, which can lead to serious health risks. Even sharing antibiotics between pets is not a good idea, as various factors, other than weight or size, will be considered before calculating the proper dose for a pet. This type of misuse of antibiotics can lead to the formation of antibiotic resistance.
Trying to Identify Underlying Health Problems Can Reduce the Use of Antibiotics
Similar to human doctors, veterinarians want to avoid overusing antibiotics with our pets, in order to reduce the risk of resistance forming. If your pet is frequently susceptible to infection, further diagnostics may be recommended to identify an underlying problem that is leading to perpetual infection. For example, if your pet develops persistent skin infections, they may have allergies. If the underlying condition is treated and managed accordingly, it will avoid the incidence of infection, and therefore avoid the need for excessive antibiotic use.
Do Not Stop Antibiotic Treatment Early
Often times you may notice that your pet’s infection has subsided during the course of antibiotic treatment- that’s great! BUT it is important to continue the treatment through to the end as directed by your veterinarian. This is because although the infection may appear to be gone, the infectious bacteria may still be unknowingly present, and can cause the symptoms to return. Failing to finish the course of antibiotics may lead to further trips to your veterinarian, additional costs for commencing treatment again and also increase antibiotic resistance.
Antibiotics are not Cure-Alls
Antibiotics are used exclusively to treat bacterial infections. If your pet has a fungal infection, they will need antifungal treatment, or if they have a viral infection they will require antiviral medications. Antibiotics for your pet need to be specially prescribed by a veterinarian, who can use their expertise to decipher their use is the best course of treatment for your pet.
Like any medication, antibiotics have some side effects, and work differently depending on the animal. Antibiotics can cause stomach upset and vomiting. If your pet does not show improvement, or symptoms worsen on antibiotic treatment after two to three days, call your veterinarian. If your pet has adverse side effects such as difficulty breathing, seizures, severe weakness or hives seek emergency veterinary care. These adverse reactions could be the sign of an allergic reaction to the antibiotic treatment, and can be potentially life threatening if not addressed immediately.
It is important to discuss what other medications your pet is on when your veterinarian is prescribing antibiotics. Prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter or herbal medicines can have unfavourable interactions with your pet’s antibiotics. This can cause negative side effects or decrease the effectiveness of the antibiotic treatment.
Antibiotics are an important part of veterinary medicine, and it is crucial everyone is mindful with the use of antibiotics, in order to ensure they can be an effective course of treatment for our furry companions. If you have any questions or concerns about your pet’s antibiotics please call our vet in Newmarket.
Looking for a vet clinic in Newmarket Aurora area? Call us to book an appointment; 905 898 1010