Antibiotics are commonly used in both dogs and cats. They are used primarily to either treat an existing bacterial infection or to prevent a bacterial infection from occurring. However, there are several considerations for the use of antibiotics in dogs and cats. Read on to learn more.
Antibiotics are NOT NEEDED for All Sick Dogs and Cats
The first step in considering which antibiotic is appropriate for a dog or cat is determining whether the pet actually needs an antibiotic. Antibiotics are not needed by all dogs or cats that are ill. Antibiotics should be used only in animals that are likely to benefit from their usage.
- In most cases, antibiotics are used for a pet that is suffering from a bacterial infection.
- In some cases, antibiotics are used to prevent the development of bacterial infections in a situation where the health of the dog or cat makes secondary bacterial infections likely.
- For other still rarer situations, some antibiotics have other properties for which they may be chosen. For instance, tetracycline and metronidazole both have anti-inflammatory properties and may be used to control inflammation.
In situations where there is no clear benefit for the dog or cat in using an antibiotic, antibiotics should not be used and may be inappropriate. The indiscriminate or inappropriate use of antibiotics can lead to the development of resistant forms of bacteria which can affect not only the individual dog or cat in question but the entire population of dogs, cats, people, and other animals.
Choosing the Ideal Antibiotic for a Dog or Cat
Once it has been established that an individual dog or cat can actually benefit from the use of an antibiotic, an appropriate antibiotic needs to be chosen. Ideally, the choice of antibiotic should be based on the results of a culture and sensitivity test. The culture allows identification of the infecting bacteria and the sensitivity test determines which antibiotic is most capable of killing or controlling the bacteria causing the infection.
Other Factors to Consider
In reality, doing a culture and sensitivity test may not be practical or possible in each individual pet’s situation. In addition, it may not be desirable to wait several days until the results of the testing are obtained before beginning to administer antibiotics to the dog or cat. As a result, choosing an antibiotic often becomes an exercise in determining which antibiotic is most likely to have the desired effects with the least chance of undesired side effects caused by the antibiotic.
Choosing the BEST Antibiotic
There are many factors that a veterinarian must consider in deciding which antibiotic is the best antibiotic for your individual dog or cat.
- There are many different antibiotics available and each has a specific range of specificity. Some antibiotics are more effective against one type of bacteria than another. If a culture and sensitivity test result is not available, an educated guess must be used to determine which bacteria are most likely to be involved in the infection and which antibiotic is most likely to be able to treat that particular type or category of bacteria.
- The antibiotic chosen must reach an effective concentration in the body system where the antibiotic is needed. For instance, if the infection is in the central nervous system, the antibiotic must be capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier in a concentration that is great enough to kill or control the infecting bacteria.
- The potential side effects caused by the antibiotic must be considered. All antibiotics have the potential to cause adverse reactions. Choosing the antibiotic that is least likely to cause undesirable side effects is an important part of deciding which antibiotic to use.
- The overall health of the individual dog or cat needs to be taken into consideration. For instance, some antibiotics are metabolized by the kidneys. If the pet suffers from kidney disease and one of these antibiotics is being considered, it may be necessary to either adjust the dosage of the antibiotic or even consider using a different antibiotic.
- Other medications that the pet is receiving must also be determined. Some antibiotics may be contraindicated in the presence of specific types of medications because of increased risk of side effects caused by the two medications being given concurrently. In other cases, a medication may work synergistically with an antibiotic and may necessitate a change in the dosage when the medications are used together.
Each dog or cat presents a different situation and an antibiotic must be chosen carefully, based on consideration of many different factors.