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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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Return of the Rattlesnake Vaccination!

South Valley Animal Clinic is excited to announce the return of the Red Rock Biologics Rattlesnake Vaccination!  This vaccination is great for dog's planning on hiking, camping or just exploring the bosque.  Please call our office for scheduling or more information (505) 873-2590. 

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South Valley Animal Clinic Joins PACA's New Public Spay/Neuter Program

We are excited to announce our support of the 'Fix the 505' program.  Fix the 505 is a small scale FREE spay/neuter program for low income pet owners.  PACA (People's Anti-Cruelty Association) selected a few local veterinarian clinic's, including South Valley Animal Clinic to participate in this necessary program.  Please watch the short video above or visit http://paca-aar.org/index.php/donate/sponsor-a-spay for more information!

06/01/2015 UPDATE

This program has been restricted to South Valley residents struggling to spay or neuter their pets.  In order to get your pets scheduled, please request a PACA Voucher from The Animal Humane Society or from a Bernalillo County Animal Control officer .  Please call (505) 255-5523 for more information!

Testimonials

Dr. Heite and the rest of SVAC staff, Thank You! From the bottom of our hearts for your AMAZING care for our dogs. You're an awesome team, and we trust you above anyone else to provide immediate, compassionate, and reliable solutions. We cannot begin to thank you for going above and beyond to help Sissy. We know she has an amazing medical team. 

With heartfelt appreciation, Sanchez Family
Albuquerque, NM

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