PDSA offer advice to pet owners about antibiotics and pets

This week (12-19 November) is World Antibiotics Awareness Week and in their Pet care Column, PDSA aim to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance.

Antibiotics have served as a cornerstone of modern medicine; however inappropriate use means some bacteria are developing to them. UK veterinary charity, PDSA aim to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and encourage best practice for ways to avoid the spread of resistance.

PDSA vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan, 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. Without effective antibiotcs, even simple bacterial infections would become impossible to treat and procedures and operations could become riskier, for both humans and pets.

“It’s important that antibiotics are used responsibly to avoid resistance so we need to take steps to ensure that we have effective antibiotics – both now and in the future.”

To help prevent antibiotic resistance, Olivia has put together some top tips for pet owners:

Antibiotics are not always the answer – not every condition require antibiotics – for example, they don’t kill viruses. Don’t insist on antibiotics if your vet doesn’t think they’re needed.

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. Preventative care, such as vaccinations and neutering, is vital if our 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 in that specific instance. 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 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 things you can do to reduce the spread of infection and mean antibiotics won’t be needed in the first place.

Further test 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 and which antibiotics will work best against them. That way, your vet can prescribe the right antibiotic for your pet’s infection.

Follow the instructions and always finish the course – give your pet the medicine at the correct dose 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.

Talk to your vet – if you have any questions about antibiotics of any medication your pet is taking, talk about this with your vet. They are best placed to advise you about your pet’s treatment.