Pets and Antibiotics: Safe and Effective Use in Sick Pets

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Antibiotics are life-saving medicines, fighting life-threatening bacterial infections in humans and pets, but this Antimicrobial Awareness Week (November 18-24), veterinary charity PDSA is highlighting the risk of antibiotic resistance.

The inappropriate use of antibiotics greatly increases the risk of developing resistance in bacteria, which means that some bacteria may have developed immunity to certain treatments. If these drugs stop working, fighting simple infections could become frighteningly difficult.

PDSA veterinary nurse Nina Downing said: “Antibiotics are an essential tool in overcoming many infections, but their misuse can have dangerous implications. When certain antibiotics stop treating relatively simple diseases, the alternative choices can be extremely limited. Fortunately, as a pet owner, there are simple steps you can take to ensure that it remains an effective treatment method for you and your four-legged family members.

What is antibiotic resistance?

“Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria find ways to overcome the drugs they are frequently exposed to. This can cause them to evolve into dangerous superbugs, like MRSA, that are resistant to many antibiotics, making them difficult, if not impossible, to treat.

Keep your pet healthy

“Healthy pets are often better equipped to fight infections without medical treatment. Therefore, it helps to make sure your furry family member is eating a proper diet, getting enough exercise, and up to date on all their vaccines. The right amount of exercise can vary depending on your pet’s breed, age and health, but walks and play are great – getting them moving regularly is essential.

Listen to your vet

“Antibiotics should only be used when needed, but remember they don’t treat all illnesses – for example, they can’t kill viruses. Your vet will recommend the best treatment to help your pet feel better – but that doesn’t always involve antibiotics.

Do not treat animals yourself

“Any medicine can be harmful if not used appropriately. Medicines should only be given to the animal for which they were prescribed and when they were intended – never from a previous course.Offering the wrong medication can make pets very sick and cause them to need additional urgent medical attention.Also, never give your pet medication unless it has been prescribed by your veterinarian – it could be dangerous for your furry family member.

Follow the dosage

“Your vet will prescribe your pet the correct dosage for their weight, tell you how often it should be given and provide you with enough medication to last the full duration of the course they need. It is very important that you follow all instructions and do not stop administering the medication before the end of the course, even if you think your pet seems better. If they don’t take the full suite of drugs, the bacteria has a chance to develop resistance and the drugs may no longer be effective for your pet – and potentially other furry and human friends in the future.

PDSA is the UK’s largest veterinary charity providing a vital service to pets across the UK whose owners struggle to pay the cost of treating their sick and injured animals.

For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help their owners when they have nowhere to turn.

People’s Postcode Lottery player support helps us reach even more pet owners with vital tips and information. www.pdsa.org.uk

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