CVMA | Documents | Antibiotic Resistance and How it Affects Your Pet

Antibiotic Resistance and How it Affects Your Pet

September 15, 2014

When the first antibiotic, penicillin, was discovered in 1928, infectious disease treatment took a turn for the better. Rates of sickness and death in humans and animals were greatly reduced, thanks to these antimicrobial products.

Antibiotics are life-saving drugs, but their use must be appropriate in order to preserve the effectiveness of these drugs. A recent report from the World Health Organization indicates the last new class of antibacterial drugs was discovered in the 1980s. There is now an emergence of resistance to antibiotics and the inappropriate use of these life-saving medications is a factor. Widespread resistance may take us back to a time similar to the early 20th century, when many epidemics spread unchecked.

These threatening multi-resistant bacteria don’t only affect humans, but pets as well. It’s important that we protect the effectiveness of antibiotics for both people and our pets. As a responsible gatekeeper of the reliable medicines that keep your pet healthy, your veterinarian will determine whether or not an antibiotic is required when your pet is sick. If required, your veterinarian will do testing to determine whether or not antibiotic treatment is needed.

As a pet owner, you should administer your pet’s antibiotics exactly as prescribed by your veterinarian. People will sometimes stop taking the medication once we feel better, but for both humans and pets, the full course of treatment is necessary in order to prevent resistant bacteria from developing.

Leftover antibiotics should never be flushed down the toilet, as this can have an adverse effect on amphibians, aquatic species, and the birds and mammals that prey on them. Ask your veterinarian or the veterinary team for advice on disposal.

Finally, healthy animals can better fight off potential illnesses. A healthy lifestyle includes regular veterinary examinations, vaccinations, parasite prevention, exercise and good nutrition.