Just as the invention of penicillin gave humans a fighting chance against infection, amoxicillin has helped animals do the same. In fact, your veterinarian may have prescribed amoxicillin for any myriad things, like an eye infection, kidney infection or ear infection. That’s the beauty of amoxicillin – it has the ability to destroy a bunch of different bacteria strains. It also has few side effects (which is why it is commonly prescribed in pediatric medicine as well). So if we have this relatively safe “powerhouse” available to our pets, why is there a need for more intense antibiotics?
Well, let’s say that Fido’s veterinarian starts him on a low dose of amoxicillin to fight his infection. After the first couple of days you may notice that he is back to acting like his old self – running, jumping, and playing, instead of lying around and sleeping. Just because he appears to be on the upswing, don’t neglect to give him the full course of antibiotic treatment as prescribed by your veterinarian. Bacteria are tricky. Some bacteria are a little stronger than the others and require longer treatment to go away completely. If you stop the amoxicillin early, the bacteria that are left may become more resistant to this first-line antibiotic; and so begins the process of creating the “super-bugs” we discussed in the first part of our antibiotic series. After awhile, the stronger bacteria can reproduce and create another illness in your companion – which will require your veterinarian to start the whole process over, this time with a stronger antibiotic. As we now know, the stronger the antibiotic, the more “good bacteria” that is also terminated. And the less “good bacteria” in the body, the less immunity your dog has in the fight of other diseases.
Not only do stronger antibiotics come with a longer list of side effects, but they also come with a higher price tag. Amoxicillin is relatively inexpensive. However, resistant infections are more costly to treat.
The good news is that this is a vicious cycle that you can stop before it even starts. There’s no denying that it is challenging to get a pill down an unwilling pal’s throat, but work with your veterinarian on techniques to make the job a little easier. Patience, consistency and treats for a job well-done are a good place to start.
To review, there are five major points to consider when choosing antibiotic therapy to treat your pet’s infection:
1) Utilize antibiotic therapy only after careful consideration. Challenge your veterinarian to provide you with alternate methods to treat common ails. Keep in mind that the overuse of antibiotics is contributing to the creation of resistant strains of bacteria.
2) If you decide that antibiotics are the best course of action for your pet, educate yourself on what to expect from the treatment. Be aware of common side effects and ask your veterinarian the best way to respond should an adverse reaction arise.
3) Help alleviate the impact of an antibiotic on your dog’s overall health by using probiotics and good nutrition to boost immunity.
4) Give your pet the full course of antibiotics, as prescribed by your veterinarian, to help keep first-line antibiotics (like amoxicillin) able to fight infection.
5) Whether you crush the pill in food or present wrapped in a treat, work on techniques to make administering antibiotics easier on both you and your pet.