Antibiotics and pets
Author: The PDSA
Antibiotics have been a vital weapon in the battle against bacterial infections in humans and animals for many years. However, some microorganisms are developing resistance to antibiotics, with fears this could have a major impact on treating infections in the future.
PDSA vet nurse, Katy Orton, said: “Antibiotics were seen as something of a ‘silver bullet’ when they were first discovered but the more an antibiotic is used, the higher the chance that bacteria mutate and become resistant to it. Without effective antibiotics, bacterial infections would become impossible to treat and any procedures or operations, and even dental work, could become increasingly dangerous.”
“Antibiotics have to be used responsibly and we need to take steps to ensure we have effective antibiotics – both now and in the future.”
Rebecca has also put together some top tips for pet owners that can help to prevent antibiotic resistance:
- Antibiotics are not always the answer
Not every condition requires antibiotics – for example, they don’t kill viruses. Don’t insist on antibiotics if your vet doesn’t think they’re needed. To make sure antibiotics stay effective now and in the future, they should only be used when they are really necessary.
- Keep your pet healthy
Healthy pets are more likely to be able to fight off infections themselves. Keeping your pet at the correct weight by feeding them an ideal diet for their age and lifestyle helps them to stay healthy, as does keeping them fit with regular walks. Preventive care such as vaccinations and neutering are vital and if your animal becomes unwell, go to your vet straight away.
- Do not self-medicate your animal
Only use medications prescribed for that specific pet. Don’t share antibiotics between animals or re-use tablets prescribed for a different illness. They might not work or be out of date. You should also never give human medicines to your pet, as this can be incredibly dangerous.
- Wash your hands after petting your animal
Our hands are the most common way germs are spread. Although these germs can be harmless, they may also be those that cause diseases, such as stomach bugs. Washing your hands properly with soap and water is the single most important things you can do to reduce the spread of infection.
- Diagnostic tests might be needed
In order for your vet to know whether treatment with antibiotics is really necessary and, if so, which antibiotic will work best, they might recommend a laboratory test. That way, your vet can prescribe the right antibiotic for your pet’s bacterial infection.
- Follow the dosage and instructions
Give your pet the medicine at the correct dose, and continue the set of antibiotics until the full course has finished. If your pet seems better after a short time continue the treatment until the medication has run out, or call your vet for advice.
- Talk to your vet
If you have questions about antibiotics, talk about this with your vet. They are best placed to advise you about your pet’s treatment.
PDSA and The Bella Moss Foundation are encouraging pet owners to become Antibiotic Guardians by visiting antibioticguardian.com
PDSA is on a mission to educate the nation on pet wellbeing and is delighted that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping the charity to continue this vital work. For more pet care tips log onto www.pdsa.org.uk/pethealth.