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Smart Antibiotic Use: Keeping Our Pets and Us Healthy



Why Antibiotics Are Superheroes for Pet Health

Think of antibiotics as the superheroes of pet health. They've been battling bad bacteria for years, keeping our pets healthy. But the tale has a twist: these bacteria are getting smarter, stronger, and resisting our superhero medications. That's a big problem, not just for pets but for all of us. So, it's time we all learned how to use these powers wisely!


Antibiotics 101: What They Do and Don't Do

Antibiotics are like specialised soldiers fighting against bacteria. They're great at this job, but here's the catch: they don't work against viruses (a completely different kind of enemy). Knowing when to use these soldiers is key - like calling the right superhero for the job. The best way for vets to do this is to be able to see or grow the bacteria. Doing so allows us to tell what bacteria are causing the problem and what antibiotic is the best one to choose.


The Trouble with Bacteria Outsmarting Antibiotics

Here's where the plot thickens: bacteria are learning to outsmart antibiotics. This means our usual treatments are at risk of not working anymore. And this issue isn't just about our pets. It's a global headache, tying together the health of animals, humans, and even the planet!


Because bacteria move between species, what happens in one species comes to affect all of us. So, a bacteria that becomes resistant in one species, can then spread and be a problem for dogs, cats and humans alike.This is how so-called “Superbugs”, like MRSA, have evolved and spread. Once upon a time, these were not harmful infections and would have been easily controlled. But not any more; these smart bugs have adapted and can overcome many antibiotic treatments, rendering them useless. And now, MRSA is a serious problem for both doctors and vets to consider. Especially when performing operations. 


Scary Consequences Mean New Rules in the Pet Health Game 

If you think this is all pretty scary-sounding, then you’re right. The thought of a world without antibiotics is definitely not a pleasant one. But we are not powerless to let this happen. As a part of a global drive to prevent this or at least slow things down until new therapies can be developed, veterinarians have new guidance. Basically, think of us like detectives; our job is now to make absolutely sure we have identified a culprit before we prescribe the antibiotic. No more guessing games. This is crucial to stop bacteria from becoming even more resistant. So rather than just reaching for the pharmacy bottle, we’re often/usually going to need to be sure. This might mean taking a swab and looking at it under a microscope. Or sending a sample off to the laboratory for bacterial culture and testing.


Where antibiotics are needed urgently/in an emergency situation, we may give antibiotics but still need to await test results which may change the antibiotic to a more targeted one.But it means that you are most likely not going to be given antibiotics “just to be on the safe side” - because there is nothing safe about that kind of action at all.


Vets: The Wise Guides of Antibiotic Use  

Veterinarians are, therefore, wise wizards in this story. We understand when to use antibiotics and will guide you in using them correctly. Your vet's advice is gold - following it keeps these drugs effective for longer and us all safer today and tomorrow. 


Your Superpower as a Pet Owner 

But it’s not just vets who have a role to play. As a pet owner, you have a superpower too - using antibiotics exactly as prescribed! Skipping doses or stopping early? Don’t do it. That gives bacteria more of a chance to evade them. Let's be superheroes in our pets' stories by following the vet's advice.And it’s likely that as we change our behaviour, there are times when you are going to feel frustrated. It takes time for bacteria to grow in labs, and we are going to have to change course based on treatments. So it’s likely there will be new bends in the road to navigate as we safely treat your pet.


Also, you may have gotten antibiotics easily for minor infections or conditions like a short run of diarrhoea. In both cases, animals often get better on their own. So we might opt for a different course of treatment or even a “let’s monitor this closely” type of approach.Kennel cough infections, draining cat bite abscesses and upset tummies causing diarrhoea for a few days are all examples of cases that definitely need treatment. But they probably don’t need antibiotics in most cases. Bringing in pets in early on can help head off diseases that may get worse without treatment.


Plan B: Preventing Illnesses and Other Magic Tricks  

Prevention is another magic trick up our sleeve. Vaccines, cleanliness, and a healthy lifestyle for our pets can reduce the need for antibiotics. Sometimes, other treatments might do the trick without calling in the antibiotic superheroes. For many skin infections, for example, shampoos and topical skin treatments not containing antibiotics can be a better option for treatment.


What Happens If We Don't Play by the Rules

Ignoring the rules of antibiotic use is like inviting trouble to tea. Bacteria will continue to be more able to evade capture, and simple infections could turn into scary monsters. This affects not just pets but us too! Plus, treating superbugs is far more expensive and carries the risk of failure - with potentially tragic consequences. 


Teamwork for a Healthier World for Pets and People

Fighting antibiotic resistance is a team sport. By understanding these new rules and using antibiotics carefully, we're not just protecting our pets. We're joining a bigger battle for the health of pets and people, keeping our families safe today and in the years ahead. 



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