Pets and Antibiotics

Everything you need to know about giving your furry friend antibiotics

As much as our four-legged friends might not enjoy taking their medication, sometimes it’s the only way to help them return to their usual furry selves. However, it’s important to be aware of when and why your pet might need to take antibiotics – and also, when they might be better off without them.

PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Antibiotics are used to help poorly pets fight off infections caused by bacteria, and they’ve been a vital part of animal and human medicine for many years. However, some bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics, which is deeply worrying for our ability to treat these infections in the future, but there are things that owners can do to help.

What do you need to know?

“If the past year has taught us one thing, it is that viruses and bacteria are all around us! Bacteria are essential for life on earth, but in the wrong place can cause infections and severe illness, or even death. The good news is that with the life-saving discovery of antibiotics, bacterial infections became much easier to treat. However, if antibiotics are not used carefully, resistant bacteria can develop, making some infections extremely difficult to treat. In addition – as with any medication – if your pet is prescribed antibiotics, side effects are possible, though not common. Diarrhoea or vomiting, rashes, swelling, low energy and a reduced appetite can all indicate a reaction to the medication. If you have any concerns, you should contact your vet immediately.

Keep your pet healthy

“Our pets’ bodies are constantly bombarded by viruses and bacteria, but those with a strong immune system can usually deal with these themselves without getting sick. The best way to achieve this is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Ensure your four-legged friend has plenty of outdoor exercise, to keep them physically active and emotionally well. A healthy diet is vital, as is making sure they are up-to-date on vaccinations. If your pet does become unwell, contact your vet straight away.

Always listen to your vet

“ Crucially, antibiotics should only be used when needed and they don’t treat every disease – for example they can’t kill viruses. Your vet will recommend the best treatment to help your pet feel better again – and this may not be antibiotics every time. If your vet does prescribe antibiotics, even if your furry friend seems better after a short time, you’ll need to complete the full course of treatment, unless your vet advises otherwise.

Avoid at home treatments

“Any medication can harm your pet if it’s not used properly. It’s important not to share antibiotics between pets or people, or re-use tablets prescribed for a different illness. Never give human medicines to your pet and  if your pet is prescribed antibiotics and doesn’t finish the full course, the bacteria they’re fighting are more likely to develop resistance. This could mean the drug stops working for your pet’s illness – and others – in the future.

Keep clean!

“Hygiene shouldn’t be overlooked, whether that be keeping food preparation surfaces clean, feeding and water bowls thoroughly scrubbed or making sure we wash our hands, it all helps to stop the breeding and spread of germs. Washing your hands with soap and water before and after petting animals is important to keep yourself and others safe.”

PDSA is the UK’s largest 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.

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