Has your pet been prescribed an antibiotic? Antibiotics are powerful medications intended to rid the body of infection due to bacteria. Antibiotics do not have any effect on viruses. Not every antibiotic is effective on every type of bacteria. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend performing a bacterial culture to determine which bacteria is involved, and which antibiotic will be appropriate to treat the problem.

It is important that your pet finishes the full course of antibiotics that have been prescribed, even if they are feeling better. Failure to finish all of the prescribed antibiotic increases risk of creating an infection that is resistant to that antibiotic. Resistant bacteria must be treated with stronger antibiotics that may have more side effects.

The most common side effect of antibiotics is stomach or intestinal upset. Unless otherwise directed, it is advisable to give an antibiotic with a meal or snack, to reduce chances of upset stomach. If your pet experiences any vomiting or diarrhea, call the clinic for recommendations.

Antibiotics are not specific only to the bacteria that we want to kill. They also will kill the beneficial bacteria of the gut. For this reason, it is recommended to give a probiotic during antibiotic therapy and beyond. Probiotics are live bacteria or yeasts that are beneficial to the body, specifically to the digestive system. Providing these during and beyond antibiotic therapy helps to keep the gut healthy by re-introducing beneficial bacteria that have been killed by the antibiotic. Probiotics should be given at least 4 hours separated from an antibiotic. It is recommended to continue probiotic therapy for at least 2 weeks following completion of a course of antibiotics. Human probiotics may be used, but it is better to use a probiotic that is specifically formulated for dogs or cats.