Just like people, your dog or cat can get sick and require medicine. And while modern medicine can treat many illnesses and diseases, administering an antibiotic or other medication to a pet can be nerve-wracking.
After all, they can’t use words to tell you what’s wrong or if something gets worse. And, they don’t get the same antibiotics as humans (more on that later).
So, it’s not like a pet parent can know what to expect for their furry family member because they’ve never taken that medication for themselves.
Fortunately, there’s a lot of great information available about antibiotics for dogs and cats. This article will explain everything you need to know about these medications.
You’ll learn when and why vets prescribe them, how they differ from what we take, their risks, and even some tips on administering them.
If you have pet insurance, the process can be even more straightforward. Then, you’re not worried about how much treatment will cost. You may even have more options to try different medications if the first one isn’t working.
So, read on to learn more about how to help your pet get better.
What Are These Medications Used For?
Just as in humans, antibiotics fight bacterial infections only. They won’t have any effect if your dog or cat has a cold, the flu, or any other virus.
With that in mind, it’s important for vets to only prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections. They don’t want too many animals taking them too often.
When that happens, more bacteria get exposed to the medication and can mutate to become resistant to it.
How Are Pet Antibiotics Different Than Human Antibiotics?
While pet antibiotics have the same effect on dogs and cats that human antibiotics have on people, they are not the same medications. That’s why it’s crucial not to give your pet a medication made for people.
And not to take a pet antibiotic yourself.
On the one hand, some “broad spectrum” medications target bacteria that are common in different animals. But, most target specific bacteria found in one animal and not another.
That means an antibiotic for a dog won’t work on a cat (or human). In the worst cases, the medication will make the other animal sick by upsetting the balance in their systems.
What Are the Risks of Antibiotics for Dogs and Cats?
Antibiotics are very effective at fighting bacterial infections in dogs and cats. But, there are still some risks. These include:
- Allergic Reactions
- Digestive Problems
- Change in Behavior
- Secondary Infections
These issues aren’t common, and the benefits of the medication should outweigh the risks.
Even so, it’s good to know the signs that your dog or cat isn’t reacting well to an antibiotic.
1. Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions to medication often result in hives or skin rashes for dogs and cats. You may notice them scratching all over their body (general) or one specific spot (localized).
While this is the most common reaction, your pet may also develop a runny nose or watery eyes.
2. Digestive Problems
A bad reaction can cause vomiting or diarrhea in dogs and cats. In these cases, it’s essential to have them drink water. You don’t want them to get dehydrated on top of being sick.
3. Change in Behavior
A bad reaction to medication can cause a dog or cat to become irritable, withdrawn, or even aggressive. These symptoms are sometimes tough to spot because your pet usually acts differently when sick anyway.
That’s why it’s important to keep tabs on their behavior when they’re well and when they’re not feeling good. That way, you can track any additional changes once you start treating them.
4. Secondary Infections
A yeast infection is a common secondary infection resulting from taking antibiotics. It occurs when the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria in your pet’s body gets disrupted too much at once.
Other signs of a secondary infection include your pet becoming lethargic or losing its appetite. Again, observing their behavior before you take them to the vet is important.
That way, you can tell if they’re acting that way later because they’re sick or because they’re not responding well to the medicine.
Three Important Tips for Giving Medication to Your Pet
What’s the best way to ensure your pet gets the most from its prescribed medication? Here are three tips for giving antibiotics to your dog or cat:
- Follow the Full Course
- Make It Easy To Administer
- Never Use Old Medication
1. Follow the Full Course
Just as with humans, your pets must take all the doses prescribed by the vet. That’s true even if they seem fine before the course is over!
Remember, the medicine eradicates harmful bacteria from your pet’s system. The dosage is measured to make sure it’s all gone. Even if a little remains, it can begin spreading again.
That’s why you want to ensure they take every dose (no skipping!) for the entire time your vet advises.
2. Make It Easy to Administer
No medicine will work if your dog or cat won’t take it! And, yes, we know pets usually aren’t enthusiastic about taking a pill.
While it’s a little easier (although sometimes distressing) to hold down a cat and open their mouths, dogs can be more difficult—especially bigger breeds.
In those cases, hide the pill in “pocket foods” – treats your dog loves that can conceal the medication. Chewables or soft dog treats work great. Some human foods include cheese and peanut butter.
But never hide it in raw meat. There’s a high risk of bacterial contamination.
3. Never Use Old Medication
You may be tempted to administer some medication from a previous prescription if your pet shows the same symptoms weeks or months later. But, this is a very bad idea!
First, you don’t know if the same bacteria is causing the problem – or if it’s actually a bacterial problem!
Next, you don’t know how much to administer. Too little, and it won’t help. Too much, and your dog or cat will experience severe side effects.
Finally, the medication could be expired. In that case, it will be ineffective at best.
Instead, follow your vet’s orders, and help keep your dog or cat safe and healthy for years to come!
Article Submitted By Community Writer