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What You Need to Know About Antibiotics

People and pets routinely died from infections before penicillin, the first antibiotic, was introduced in the first half of the 20th century. Today, veterinarians use antibiotics to treat many types of bacterial infections, including skin, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections. Although antibiotics can help your pet avoid serious illness or even death, they can lead to other problems if they're not used correctly. Understanding how and when the drugs should be used will help you ensure that your furry friend truly benefits from these life-saving medications.

Antibiotics Are Not Cure-Alls

Antibiotics have a very specific purpose: killing bacteria. If your pet has a viral or fungal infection, an antibiotic will be ineffective. Antibiotics, like all medications, have side effects. Taking a course of antibiotics can upset your pet's stomach and cause vomiting or diarrhea, in some cases. Antibiotic use may also increase the risk of a yeast infection. The benefits of antibiotics outweigh the risk of side effects or secondary infections when your pet actually has a bacterial infection. If your cat, dog, guinea pig or other pet doesn't have a bacterial infection, you'll needlessly subject them to these uncomfortable health issues if you give them antibiotics.

Dosages Matter

Veterinarians calculate antibiotics dosages based on the type of pet, weight and the particular infection. Some pet owners try to save a little money by using their prescriptions for their pets. Although amoxicillin, penicillin and tetracycline are often used for both pets and people, the dosage you take is probably too strong for your pet. Even if you cut the pill in half, the dosage may still be too high. Sharing antibiotics between animals isn't a good idea either, as the dosage each pet needs may vary.

Prescribing Antibiotics When They're Not Needed Can Increase Your Pet's Resistance to the Drugs

If you've had an ear or sinus infection lately, you probably know that doctors now take a "wait and see" approach to prescribing antibiotics for the infections. Because these illnesses are often caused by viruses, antibiotics may do no good and might increase your resistance to the antibiotic. If you become resistant to an antibiotic, it will no longer be effective in treating bacterial infections.

The same problem also happens in pets. Using antibiotics too often, particularly when they're not really needed, can increase the chances that your furry or feathered friend will become resistant.

Treating Underlying Problems Can Help Prevent Overuse of Antibiotics

If your pet has frequent infections, blood and other tests may be recommended to determine the source of the problem. For example, allergies may be the reason that your pet develops so many skin infections. Treating the allergies will stop the infections and reduce your furry friend's reliance on antibiotics.

Stopping Antibiotics Too Early Can Cause Problems

When giving your pet a pill seems a lot like wrestling an alligator, it may be tempting to stop providing the medication once your pet seems better. Unfortunately, if you don't give your pet the entire course of antibiotics, the symptoms can come back. Failing to finish antibiotics can also increase antibiotic resistance.

If your pet misses a dose, it's fine to give him or her the medication as soon as you realize it's needed, as long as it's only been a few hours since the antibiotic should have been taken. If it's almost time for the next pill, don't give your pet the missed dose. Instead, provide the next dose at the scheduled time.

When to Call the Veterinarian

There's no point in continuing to give your pet an antibiotic that doesn't work or causes severe side effects. Call the veterinarian if your pet's condition doesn't improve or worsens after taking antibiotics for two or three days. If your pet experiences difficulty breathing, hives, seizures or severe weakness, seek immediate emergency care. These potentially life-threatening symptoms can occur if your pet develops an allergic reaction to the medication.

It's important to mention other medications, both prescription, over-the-counter and herbal, at the time your pet is prescribed an antibiotic. In some cases, other medications can interact with antibiotics, and either cause unpleasant side effects or decrease the effectiveness of the antibiotic.

Proper use of antibiotics can keep your pet healthy. If you have a question about your pet's antibiotics or are concerned about a health issue, call us to schedule an appointment.

Sources:

American Veterinary Medical Association: Your Pet’s Medications

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/YourPetsMedications.aspx

Dog Guide: Human Antibiotics & Supplements That Are Safe for Dogs

https://dogs.thefuntimesguide.com/dog_antibiotics/

Animal Wellness Magazine: What You Need to Know About Antibiotics for Animals

https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-antibiotics/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Antibiotic Resistance Questions and Answers

https://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/community/about/antibiotic-resistance-faqs.html

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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