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How to Make the Most of Antibiotics for your Dog

Resistant Strains

Antibiotics can destroy the normal flora in the body, which crowds out pathogens. This allows harmful bacteria to multiply and cause disease. Furthermore, strains of bacteria may develop that are resistant to antibiotics and thus cannot be effectively controlled. This is particularly likely to occur when antibiotics are used:

  • For too short a time
  • In too low a dosage
  • When the antibiotic is not bactericidal

Microorganisms that are resistant to one antibiotic are usually resistant to other antibiotics of the same class. The development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is one of the main reasons why antibiotics should be used exactly as prescribed and only in situations in which they will clearly benefit the dog. If antibiotics are given at a lower than effective dose or for a shorter time period than prescribed, this may select for bacteria that have resistance to that drug. For example, if five days of treatment would kill all the bacteria and you administer antibiotics for only four days, the only bacteria left are those that managed to survive through four days of treatment. The most resistant bacteria are then left to reproduce.

Antibiotics and Steroids

Steroids are often combined with antibiotics, particularly in topical preparations for the eyes and ears, and on the skin. Corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory effects. By reducing swelling, redness, and tenderness, they often give the impression that the dog is getting better when actually, she is not.

Steroids have one other side effect that is undesirable: They depress the normal immune response. This can impair the dog’s ability to fight the infection. Antibiotic medications that contain steroids should be used only under the guidance of a veterinarian.

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WebMD Veterinary Reference from "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"

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