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Antibiotics – Where They Fit in For Our Pets

The Importance of Antibiotics in Pet Health:

Antibiotics are commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat bacterial (not viral or fungal) infections in dogs and cats as well as other pets.

  1. Antibiotics ONLY treat bacterial infections, and a specific type of antibiotic acts against a specific bacterium.
  2. The number of pills per day, as well as the number of days the antibiotics are prescribed are optimized to treat the bacteria causing the infection.
  3. Antibiotics should not be stopped if you think your pet is feeling better, continue the medication as prescribed to ensure the correct treatment for your pet.
  4. Historically, both human medical and veterinary professions have been too quick on the draw when it comes to antibiotics. Indeed, in too many cases we still elect to shoot first and ask questions later, which not only means we’re using antibiotics in ways that support (or increase) antibiotic resistance, but we’re making our patients sick in the process.
  5. Antibiotics are fraught with side effects, (diarrhea, loss of appetite, other infections like candida etc.) It is especially important to take the use of antibiotics very seriously and only when absolutely necessary.
  6. If you are not convinced that your pet needs antibiotics consider talking to another vet or getting better educated (search online) prior to filling your pets prescription.

Health Care Professionals Rely Too Heavily on Prescribing Antibiotics.

Unfortunately, the majority of scientific evidence demonstrates that the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in both human and animal medicine (in animal agriculture, in particular) has led to the emerging risk of antibiotic resistance. In other words, because of pathogenic bacteria (bad bugs) increased exposure to these important antibiotics in inappropriate ways, bacteria have become extra-clever at coming up with ways to dodge their effects. This is why so many veterinarians are becoming more cautious when it comes to prescribing antibiotics for our pets. Please do not beg your doctor or your pets’ doctor (veterinarian) to write you a prescription for antibiotics.

In a nutshell, an antibiotic works to kill either a larger number of bacteria (broad-spectrum antibiotic) or one specific type of bacteria (targeted antibiotic). All antibiotics have an effect on your pet’s microbiome.  A dog’s gut microbiome has trillions of microorganisms also known as “gut flora” or “microbiota” made up of thousands of different species many of which are bacterium. Most work hard to aid in activities like the digestion of food, to fight off harmful bacteria (like E. coli), fungi (like Candida), viruses (like Parvo.) and protozoa (like Giardia) as well as supporting the dog’s immune and other systems.  

Maintaining or supporting your dog’s microbiome, especially in cases of digestive distress due to antibiotic use, is important. Choose a high-count, multi-strain army of “good” bacteria to help replenish the good bacteria.  Remember, there are millions of other microorganisms in a dog’s gut already, so a high dose of good bacteria is essential to strengthening the gut. [See our other posts about the microbiome if you are curious.]

Antibiotics are commonly used in veterinary medicine to treat bacterial infections in dogs and cats.

  • When antibiotics are accidentally ingested in toxic amounts, it can result in mild to severe signs ranging from stomach issues called gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, discolored teeth), metabolic [drug processing] signs (e.g., skin lesions, liver failure, kidney failure, etc.) to central nervous system [CNS] signs (e.g., tremors, seizures, death). One type of “antibiotic” called isoniazid is used for the treatment of tuberculosis in human medicine, and can be deadly when dogs and cats ingest it (resulting in severe tremors, seizures, and death). As there are hundreds of different types of antibiotics, always check with your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline if your dog or cat accidentally ingested antibiotics. If your pet ingests more than the average dose of antibiotics or other drugs, please call the Pet Poison Helpline. The phoneline is open 24/7 (855) 764-7661

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