A recent press release from All Pet Naturals proclaims "First All Natural Organic Antibiotic for Pets Now Available."

I know that "organic" and "all natural" are big catch-words for some people, and may be mistakenly perceived as indicators of safety or qualityThere are very good reasons why we used manufactured and tested pharmaceuticals. If I wanted an organic, all natural approach to antibiotic therapy, I could eat some moldy bread and hope that an antibiotic-producing yeast was present, hope that it was producing adequate levels of antibiotic to fight my infection, hope that the antibiotic would survive the acid environment of my stomach and be absorbed into my bloodstream, and hope that it would kill the bacterium that’s making me sick. Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. Personally, if I need any antibiotic, I’d rather use one that has been shown to be effective, is produced using good manufacturing practices, can be taken at a known concentration and has good dosing recommendations, among other things. Playing around with unknowns in the face of a bacterial infection is not a good idea.

Back to the supposed "all natural organic antibiotic" product in question. It is a grape seed and grapefruit seed extract product. Those compounds have some biocidal activities, meaning they can have effects on some bacteria and viruses in laboratory tests. Evidence for its use for treatment of disease is less convincing, but some topical biocides may be useful adjunctive treatments for skin infections. The manufacturers claim that this product can be used to:

  • Treat skin problems caused by bacteria, even basic cuts and wounds.
  • Fight tooth decay and gum disease, prevent free-radical damage to the lens and retina of the eye, and even treat glaucoma by protecting collagen structures in the eye.
  • Help relieve asthma and emphysema.
  • Help to support brain function with daily use.

I have a general line when it comes to products like these: the more a product claims to cure, the less likely it’s going to do anything. There’s simply little to no evidence for these claims. (Making health claims like this for a nutraceutical is also illegal.) I hate seeing animals that have suffered because people used products like these instead of recommended antibiotic therapy.

Products like this are typically harmless (unless they are used instead of proper treatment and medications) but, if you need an antibiotic, use a real antibiotic. If there’s no clear evidence of need, don’t use anything. Any compound with activity against bacteria, whether it’s a traditional pharmaceutical antibiotic, an organic alternative or a disinfectant, can exert pressure for development of further resistance. So, we only want to risk that if it’s really necessary. It’s another example of the need to think, read, critically assess and ask questions about potential treatments before jumping on "all natural organic" bandwagon.