If you’ve got a dog, it’s highly likely your Vet has prescribed them antibiotics at one stage or another. In this article we’re going to take a look at the dangers of antibiotics and why they are used so frequently by Vets.
One in four UK dogs will receive antibiotics within a two year period (1)
One in Five prescriptions are over the recommended limit. (2)
This is a huge problem.
The “inappropriate prescribing and use of antibiotics within veterinary medicine” is a well-documented issue. There is currently a global push on curtailing the use of antibiotics, due to the rise of antibiotic resistance and because we’ve found out how damaging they are to overall health.
Not to mention, they never deal with the real problem, the cause of your dog’s health issues.
See symptom -> ASSUME INFECTION -> Prescribe potent drug to curtail symptom -> Ignore cause of symptom.
Nowhere in this journey of healthcare is the cause of the issue addressed, therefore long term remission is highly unlikely. Not only are they slightly contrived in the sense they don’t tackle the cause, but they also come with some dangers:
- Kills healthy gut bacteria, to the extent it will never come back. A lack of healthy gut bacteria can lead to gastrointestinal ailments and recurring infections.
- Cause Allergies
- Cause Yeast Infections
- Gastrointestinal side effects
- 20% of prescription antibiotics are over the recommended limit
- Every time antibiotics are prescribed, it contributes to antimicrobial resistance. They are becoming less and less effective. Meaning, they’re actually more and more dangerous because it’s going to become harder to stop resistant bacteria strains
How can your Vet prescribe antibiotics so frivolously?
There was a study done recently exploring the behavioural drivers of veterinary surgeon antibiotic prescribing. Basically, why do Vets prescribe antibiotics so often?
Interestingly, there were five drivers found to act as barriers to appropriate antibiotic prescribing.
Business, diagnostic, fear, habitual practice and pharmaceutical factors.
Veterinary surgeons talked about the tensions between maintaining a viable business, client satisfaction and appropriate antibiotic prescribing:
Clients’ desires for their pet to recover could, at times, be in conflict with the appropriate prescribing of antibiotics.
Antibiotics were often seen as direct action and symbolic of a clear pathway to a pets’ recovery compared to having to ‘wait it out’ while they recovered without medication.
“the dog comes to the vet vaguely unwell and we can’t find out what’s wrong with it without spending money doing tests … or you could just give them a shot of antibiotics and see what it does”
(Veterinary surgeon 1)
The fear of missing an infection, and potential professional consequences, were also magnified for veterinary surgeons with the forever present possibility of client complaint or disciplinary action through their professional bodies:
… vets are completely paranoid the Royal Veterinary College [sic Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons] is going to cause them damage or get them struck off (Veterinary surgeon 5)
Many of the veterinary surgeons talked about prescribing patterns which had been established over time and which influenced clients’ expectations of when their pet would receive an antibiotic.
Big Pharma Influence
Pharmaceutical companies influenced antibiotic prescribing. This opportunity to influence prescribing was created by the marketing of products, without warning of the dangers. 70% of survey respondents reported that pharmaceutical companies were an important source of prescribing information. Trust big pharma…at your own peril.
Where does your experience of Veterinary prescriptions of antibiotics fit?
Good vs Bad antibiotic practice
|Component behaviour||Appropriate behaviour||Inappropriate behaviour|
|1. Confirming clinical need for antibiotic||Identified clinical need for antibiotic||Cautionary prescribing ‘just in case’ antibiotics are required|
|2. Responding to clients||Providing client education on antibiotic use||Responding to perceived client pressure|
|3. Confirming diagnosis||Use of diagnostic tests to confirm antibiotic need||Prescribing antibiotics without confirmed diagnosis|
|4. Dose, duration and type of antibiotic||Accurate prescribing: dose and duration of antibiotic use in line with guidelines||Prescribing too high/ low a dose of antibiotics or too short/ long a course of antibiotics or the wrong type|
|5. Preventing infection around surgical interventions||Enhanced infection prevention and control measures around surgery||Prescribing antibiotics as a preventative measure related to surgical interventions|
How should we really approach healthcare for our dogs?
Increasing the overall health of the dog by improving the quality of what they eat, in combination with the use of natural probiotics/prebiotics to increase friendly bacteria and decrease bacteria that leads to infection, is a more effective, natural and logical route to health.
Studies have shown that probiotic administration to dogs and cats can have immunomodulatory effects, by changing the microbiota composition, it can have direct effects on animal health by influencing immune function.