What you should know about “superbugs” and your pet
Ever stopped taking a medication early? After all, the only one who gets hurt if a medication is not taken exactly as prescribed is the patient themselves, right? The answer to that question is actually an emphatic NO. A decision taken by one person can in fact hurt many. The topic of antibiotic resistance is something that affects every single person living on this planet.
There exists something called “superbugs” which are bacteria that are resistant to all kinds of antibiotics. Over half a century has passed since penicillin was discovered by Doctor Fleming; that one drug, in a variety of different forms, has saved the lives of millions of people. The overuse and misuse of antibiotics, however, has created a staph bacteria known as MRSA which can cause very serious illness and even death in a short period of time. These superbugs are extremely difficult to eradicate and are becoming an epidemic that is infecting the old, the young, the healthy, the sick, people, and animals. These bacteria have to be taken very seriously or we may shortly return to the “dark” age before the invention of antibiotics, a situation that we would not wish on our worst enemy.
Each and every person, healthcare professionals and patients alike, are all responsible for the prevention and the minimization of the creation of these superbugs. As pet owners, we must also be responsible in administering medications to our pets. Don’t insist on an antibiotic for your pet regardless of the type of illness. Antibiotics must always be prescribed by a doctor or a veterinarian to ensure the correct drug is selected for that particular “bug.” Also, when possible a culture and sensitivity test should be performed before antibiotics are prescribed. The results of these tests take time, so it is possible that the doctor decides to prescribe the most-likely-to- be-effective antibiotic before the test results are in. If resistance is seen then a different drug may be selected.
Some things you can do as a pet owner to help prevent antibiotic resistance include continuing the full course of antibiotics prescribed for your pet and not stopping early, even if it seems the infection has cleared. If the treatment course is stopped before it is complete, this gives bacteria and opportunity to “learn how to defend” against that particular drug for future infections. You should also never give your pet antibiotics or (any prescription medication) not prescribed for that pet. The wrong antibiotic could not only fail to clear the infection, but potentially help other bacteria build resistance.
Though antibiotic resistance is a growing concern for both animals and humans, being cognizant of these things can help prevent the issue in your pets. Nobody wants to return to the days before Dr. Alexander Fleming discovered the drug that saved millions, but that risk is ever-present if we all don’t get together and fight against these resistant bacterial strains.
It is important to know that the best thing you can do for yourself and your pet is to get medical attention at the first sign something is not normal and to ask questions until you fully understand and are comfortable with the answer you’re getting. If you have any questions about antibiotic resistance or about any medication that your pet is taking please give your 1800PetMeds pharmacist a call so they can help answer those for you.