Dogs and Superbugs

Dogs and Superbugs

Health & Safety

There are times when our dogs need to be taken to the vet whether it's for a check-up or because they are developing a condition that needs to be investigated. The chances are your pet might have to be given a course of antibiotics in order to fight off an infection and just as in humans, it's essential for the course of medication is completed because not only does mean the condition will be far less likely to flare up again, but it also prevents antibiotic resistance taking hold which makes treating certain viruses and bacteria much harder and on occasion impossible because they become “superbugs”.

All pet owners need to be aware that any medication a vet has prescribed for their dog (or other animals) needs to be administered to their pets in a responsible manner and finishing a course of antibiotics is essential no matter what or if a pet appears to be better before the course is finished.

It's also really important that any antibiotics are prescribed by a vet to treat a specific bug. Vets would need to carry out tests and take cultures whenever they can before deciding which antibiotic to give your pet. However, as it often takes a bit of time for results to come back, many vets will prescribe an antibiotic they know covers a wide spectrum of bugs, but when any resistance is shown, they would then try another one.

How You Can Help

As a dog owner there are certain things you can do that will help reduce the risk of antibiotic resistance which includes the following:

  • Always make sure your pet is given the full course of antibiotics
  • Never give another dog any antibiotics that were prescribed for another dog

By not finishing a course of antibiotics, the “bugs” learn how to fight and defend themselves against an antibiotic which ultimately renders it useless. Giving a prescribed antibiotic to another dog would more than likely not clear up an infection and might also help bacteria or viruses build up a resistance to the antibiotic.

Antibiotic Resistance a Growing Problem

Just as in humans, where our pets are concerned, resistance to antibiotic is a very real and growing problem. The first and most important thing is to recognise when your dog is ill and to get them along to the vet as soon as possible before an infection has the chance to really take hold which makes it that much harder for the vet to treat successfully. If you have any concerns or worries about any medication you give your dog, a vet would be only too happy to discuss any of these worries with you whether you visit the surgery or talk to them on the phone during surgery hours.

Infections can be Scary

It goes without saying that when a dog gets an infection it can be a very worrying time for their owners. However, when an infection will not clear up, then it becomes very scary. Older dogs tend to have weakened immune systems and this can make fighting off bacteria and viruses really hard without the aid of a prescribed veterinary medication. In short, it gets even scarier when an antibiotic has no affect on an infection which results in a dog’s system being overwhelmed by all sorts of toxins.

The result can be devastating and results in all sorts of health issues where wounds don't heal, dogs suffer from chronic diarrhoea; they become weak and very unwell indeed. Vets need to pin-point the type of bug that’s causing all the problems in order to prescribe the right antibiotic which can be in injection form, tablets, creams or liquids that need to be administered orally.

The problem is that antibiotics are not always effective when used to treat all infections and that giving the wrong one can often do more harm than good. Other factors that affect the effectiveness of an antibiotic are dosage and length of treatment bearing in mind that any course has to be completed for the antibiotic to be really effective.


If you find that your dog is having real problems fighting off an infection or that a small wound is taking far too long to heal, you should take them along to the vet for a thorough examination. It is really important to complete a course of antibiotics because failing to do so would mean the bacteria or virus stands a better chance of “learning” how to defend themselves against the medication and as a result they become superbugs which as vets and doctors are finding, are sometimes virtually impossible to treat!

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