Bacteria resistance to antibiotics is a serious and growing problem. Bacteria can develop resistance in several ways. Initial exposure to antibiotics can kill bacteria, but any that survive to reproduce can pass that ability by transferring "plasmids" to other unrelated bacteria and essentially teaching them how to be resistant. Over time, some bacteria have acquired resistance to virtually all of the antibiotics available- these are often referred to as "super bugs".
There are several strategies that doctors and patients can use to help minimize this:
1. Avoid antibiotic use where possible by using topical antiseptic therapies, such as baths, rinses or mousses with chlorhexidine or povidone iodine, or by using sugar or honey dressings.
2. Avoid using antibiotics when a virus or fungal infection is suspected since antibiotics only work on susceptible bacterial infections.
3. Maximize effective immune response with an optimal diet, probiotics, immunotherapy, and vaccinations.
4. Minimize itching and self-trauma with Apoquel, Cytopoint, hyposensitization, or steroids and eliminate allergens and external parasites wherever possible.
5. Choose antibiotics based on culture results and appropriateness for the site being treated at the proper dose until the infection is resolved. This is typically 4 days to 2 weeks beyond 100% improvement in the clinical signs. This is especially important when using fluoroquinolones as these work by damaging bacterial DNA and may encourage mutations that increase the risk of developing resistance in surviving bacteria
Antibiotics are a useful and often life-saving tool, but doctors and patients must work together to preserve their effectiveness for the future.
Dr. Linda Piffer, a Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, has practiced at Somerset Veterinagy Group for over 23 years.