Pets and antibiotics

Antibiotics can help pets fight off infections caused by bacteria. They've been a very important part of animal and human medicine for many years, and have been a reliable way of treating poorly pets.

Some of these bugs are now changing and adapting so that antibiotics can't kill them off anymore. This is called 'antibiotic resistance'. You might have heard about it in the news because it's a big problem for human health, too.

If antibiotics stop working, vets won't be able to help pets fight these infections. This could mean that normal treatments and operations - even a simple scratch or cut - become much more dangerous for our pets.

How you can help keep antibiotics working

As a pet owner, there are things you can do to help protect antibiotics for pets in the future. here are out top tips:

  • Keep your pet healthy. Healthy pets are often able to fight off infections without antibiotics. Make sure they have plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, and that they are up to date on vaccinations. If your pet does become unwell, visit your vet straight away.
  • Listen to your vet. Don't insist on antibiotics for your pet if they're not what your vet recommends. Antibiotics are not always the answer and they can't kill viruses. If your vet thinks your pet has a virus they'll give you other treatments to help your pet until they feel better again.
  • Don’t treat your pet yourself. Medication can harm your pet if it’s not used properly. It’s important not to share antibiotics between pets, or re-use tablets prescribed for a different illness. Never give human medicines to your pet because this is a common cause of poisoning in pets. It’s very dangerous and will leave you pet needing emergency care.
  • Follow the dosage. Your vet will tell you how much medicine your pet needs each day, when to give it to them and how long for. It’s important to follow these instructions. Even if your pet seems better after a short time, you’ll need to continue until all the medication has run out in case the infection is still in their system. If you don’t finish a course of antibiotics, the bacteria they’re fighting have a chance to develop resistance. This could make the drug unusable for your pet – and others – in the future.
  • Wash your hands. Our hands are the most common way that germs and bacteria are spread. Washing your hands with soap and water before and after petting animals is the most important thing you can do to stop bacteria spreading.


PDSA is an Antibiotic Guardian

PDSA has pledged to be an Antibiotic Guardian to slow antibiotic resistance and protect these important medicines for the future. This means all of our staff will use antibiotics responsibly and will encourage others to do the same.

Find out more about Public Health England’s Antibiotic Awareness campaign.

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