The European Union has announced that November 18 will be the EU’s Antibiotic Awareness Day. Antibiotics are incredibly important drugs and save countless lives (human and animal) on a daily basis. Resistance to antibiotics is a major threat to human and veterinary medicine. While antibiotic resistance is a complex issue, overuse and improper use (in animals and people) undoubtedly contribute to the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria like MRSA. Awareness of these concerns is important for healthcare professionals (both human physicians and vets) and the general public. Here are some general points to remember with respect to pets and antibiotics:

  • Do not encourage your vet to prescribe antibiotics when they are not necessary. Vets (and physicians) often feel pressure to prescribe ‘something’, even though they have no clear evidence of a bacterial infection. Antibiotics do not work for viral infections.
  • Never give antibiotics to your pet without the direction of your vet.
  • Always give the full antibiotic course, as prescribed. Do not stop early. Your pet may look better but the infection could still be there.
  • Never save antibiotics for ‘future use’. If your pet develops another infection, you need to have your pet evaluated by a vet to determine if antibiotics are needed, and what antibiotic would be best.