Last week, we mentioned generally that perhaps the greatest bane of physicians’ woes would be clients’ misuse of antibiotics: as a self-medication activity, after acquiring inadequate and misleading information from the non-knowledgeable and the untrained. Veterinary medicine is not immune from this prevalent abuse and misuse of antibiotic drugs associated with the unreliable treatment of ailments in companion animals and livestock. If we cannot totally control the widespread misemployment, misapplication, and mismanagement of antibiotics, we must at least try to put together, publish, and educate the public and fellow practitioners as much as possible about the valid and workable principles relating to successful antibiotic usage in treatment of ailing animals.
These principles must clearly be associated with the following:
1) Identifying the disease-causing agent. Identification must be based on experience, training, being au fait with the latest technological and drug-related research achievements and findings
2) Selection of the appropriate drug(s) for treatment.
3) Establishing the necessary quantity of the chosen medication (dosage).
4) Introduction of the medication at the site of infection, where appropriate.
5) Establishing the dosage rate (frequency) of giving the medication.
6) Deciding on the method of application (orally, on the skin, inhalation, etc).
7) Deciding and maintaining the length of time the medication must continuously be given (days, weeks, months).
The principles stated above are related to:
(i) Ensuring/maximizing the likelihood of a cure.
(ii) Preventing a relapse.
(iii) The possible need for introduction of supportive treatment(s).
All of the abovementioned considerations could improve the companion animal’s ability to overcome the infection, and ensure the pet’s continued existence.
Also of importance are the following considerations: Reducing the risk of the infectious agents developing a resistance to the antibiotic, and (ii) Ensuring that the drug is in itself not harmful to the pet, and does not have side effects that are inimical to the wellbeing of the companion animal.
Perhaps, such fundamentals may well be beyond the grasp of those who decide to affect a cure of their sick pet by administering over-the-counter (OTC) medications; or worse, introducing home-made remedies which they feel contain antibiotic properties. Unless one’s veterinarian advises about the usage of herbs and para-pharmaceuticals that purport to be antibiotics, one should be cautious in their usage.
I must also emphasize that the ill-advised and incorrect usage of antibiotics would almost surely result in the emergence of bacteria that are resistant to currently available antibiotics in the fight against these bacteria. When resistance occurs, previously successful antibiotic drugs can no longer be considered effective treatment interventions. Out of dire necessity, new antibiotic drugs must be developed.
However, when used properly, under advisement of your veterinarian, and following those principles delineated above, the antibiotic medications are less likely to contribute to the emergence of antibiotic-resistant germs.
Also, caregivers must meticulously follow the advice given on the vet’s prescription. If one has any doubts, one should please get in touch with the vet who wrote the prescription.
Over the years, certain questions have been asked by caring clients: whether the antibiotic drugs can have an effect on the foetuses in the womb of the mother dog, or whether one should at all administer antibiotics to puppies and kittens. Also, should the mother animal receive antibiotics when she is pregnant, or immediately after she has delivered her offspring (puppies/kittens) and is nursing them. Those are good and relevant questions. Allow me to quote from a Merck Manual on Pet Health: “Many drugs are capable of crossing the placenta (that membrane sac which surrounds the pups/ kittens while they are still in the womb), and can therefore affect the foetuses. Certain antibiotic drugs are toxic to a foetus, while others may affect developing cartilage, bones and teeth in the puppies and kittens.”
As an aside, allow me to mention that all cancer chemo-therapeutic drugs are potentially harmful to a developing foetus. And this is all the more reasons not to use any medication without the advice of trained, tested and proven medical personnel.