World Antibiotics Awareness Week – 11-17 November
Antibiotics have served as a cornerstone of modern medicine, however overuse is making infections harder to treat.
PDSA Vet nurse, Nina Downing, said: “The more that antibiotics are misused, the higher the chance that bacteria will be able to become resistant to them, meaning they’ll no longer work when we need them most. Without effective antibiotics, even simple bacterial infections would become impossible to treat, meaning procedures and operations could become more risky, for both humans and pets.
“It’s so important that antibiotics are used responsibly to ensure their effectiveness for ourselves and future generations.”
Nina has put together some top tips for pet owners that can help to prevent antibiotic resistance:
- Antibiotics are not always the answer
Not every illness needs antibiotics – for example, they don’t kill viruses, so your vet won’t prescribe antibiotics if your pet has a viral infection. Your vet will explain this to you but if you’re still unsure do ask your vet to explain in more detail. 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. 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 is incredibly important to prevent them getting some of the most serious diseases in the first place. Neutering is really useful to help calm some wandering ways and prevent animal to animal contact which leads to the transfer of diseases. If your animal becomes unwell, go to your vet straight away.
- Do not give medicine to your animal that your vet hasn’t prescribed
Only use medications prescribed for that specific pet. Don’t share medications between animals or re-use something prescribed on a previous occasion. At best, these medications might not work for your pet, and at worst they could seriously harm your pet and promote antibiotic resistance. You should also never give human medicines to your pet, as this can be incredibly dangerous.
- Wash your hands after petting your animal
The most common way germs are spread among humans is on our hands. Although some of these germs are harmless, others can cause diseases. Washing your hands properly with soap and water is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the spread of infection and mean antibiotics won’t be needed in the first place, prevention being better than cure.
- Further tests might be needed
For your vet to know whether treatment with antibiotics is necessary, they might recommend running tests to check whether bacteria are causing the problem. If your pet is found to have a bacterial infection, they’ll need to work out which bacteria it is, as there are different types. Not all bacteria respond to all antibiotics so once we know which bugs are causing the problem, then your vet will work out the right antibiotic to treat the problem.
- Follow the instructions and always finish the course
Give your pet the medicine exactly as it is prescribed by your vet, and finish the full course of antibiotics. If your pet seems better after a short time, you should still continue the treatment as directed by your vet, otherwise if you stop the course short, it might give bacteria the chance to fight back, and potentially building resistance to antibiotics in the future.
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- Talk to your vet
If you have questions about antibiotics or any medication your pet is taking, talk about this with your vet. They are best placed to advise you about your pet’s treatment.
PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk