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Antibiotics: A tool that must be used carefully

When the first antibiotic was discovered in the mid-twentieth century, it created a medical revolution in human and animal health care. Suddenly, once life-threatening diseases were curable. Over the years, antibiotics have become invaluable tools in veterinary care, safeguarding the health of our furry companions. However, it’s crucial for pet owners to understand the adverse effects of antibiotics and the potential for the development of antibiotic resistance. If we don’t recognize this, we could find ourselves set back in time, and less able to fight bacterial infections.


What exactly are antibiotics?


Antibiotics (French link: ) are medicines designed to fight bacterial infections. They work in different ways, including directly killing bacteria (bactericidal) or slowing their ability to reproduce (bacteriostatic).

Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections or other disease not caused by bacteria. Most bacterial infections do not need antibiotics to resolve them. It’s important not to use antibiotics when they are not needed (known as antibiotic overuse) to avoid potential side effects and reduce the development of antibiotic resistance.


Can antibiotics cause harm?


Adverse effects of antibiotics can include vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, yeast infections, and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions. There is ongoing research into the negative impact of antibiotics on the microbiome – the normal collection of microorganisms, including bacteria, that live in and on an animal and support health. Using antibiotics can also contribute to antibiotic resistance (French: ), something the World Health Organization describes as one of the top global public health threats.


Antibiotics should only be used when the potential for benefit outweighs the risk of adverse effects or antibiotic resistance. This risk is best judged by your veterinarian, so never use an antibiotic for your pet without discussing it with them. Even seemingly harmless, over-the-counter medications like triple antibiotic ointments can have negative consequences.


What does misuse of antibiotics mean?


Misuse of antibiotics includes giving your pet the wrong antibiotic, the wrong dose, or using the antibiotic for an inappropriate amount of time. To ensure we don’t misuse antibiotics in our patients, it’s important to perform bacterial cultures to identify bacteria and determine which antibiotic they may be most susceptible to. At Vet Mobile Plus, we keep up-to-date on the latest antibiotic recommendations for bacterial infections your pet might experience using information from organizations like the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Disease.


Why should I be concerned about resistance?


Perhaps the most significant concern around antibiotic use is the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (French:, rendering some antibiotics less effective or entirely ineffective. Any use of antibiotics can contribute to the development of resistant strains, as bacteria evolve to overcome the effects of the antibiotic. Overuse or misuse of antibiotics compounds this problem further. Resistance not only jeopardizes the health of individual pets, but also poses a global public health threat.


Is it possible to avoid antibiotic use?


Many bacterial infections are secondary to an underlying condition like allergies, or anatomical abnormalities like a recessed vulva or deep nasal folds that provide breeding grounds for bacteria. Other bacterial infections may be caused by environmental conditions like plastic water bowls that harbour bacteria no matter how well they are cleaned. By treating underlying conditions, and ensuring good hygiene and environmental cleanliness, including air quality, we can prevent many bacterial infections, avoiding the need for antibiotics (French:


Antibiotic use is a delicate balancing act


Antibiotics are a cornerstone of modern veterinary medicine, providing critical support in treating bacterial infections in our pets. Our veterinary teams will discuss when it is best to use them and side effects to look out for. It is important you closely follow the directions for antibiotic administration, so your pet can achieve the best outcome with these medications. Let us know if you are not seeing improvement or if your pet experiences any side effects.


By working together, the veterinary team at Vet Mobile Plus can continue to prioritize the well-being of you and your pet.

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