It is generally accepted that bacterial resistance is increasing in human and veterinary health because antibiotics are being prescribed to too many patients (human and animal) who do not need them.
Up until around the 1990s, new antibiotics had been developed as the older ones became less effective. However, there have been no truly new antibiotics developed for quite some time.
The difficulty vets face is in being certain whether a patient does or does not have a bacterial infection.
They may be concerned that if they don’t prescribe an antibiotic to a patient who does turn out to have a bacterial infection, then that patient could be more unwell than they might have been, or could even die.
There are too many instances where a pet is prescribed an antibiotic for a clinical problem that is rarely, if ever, caused by a bacterial infection such as:
- Acute diarrhoea
- Cystitis (bladder inflammation) in cats under ten years old
- Kennel cough
Some bacterial infections can even be made worse through inappropriate use of antibiotics. In cases of intestinal infections with Salmonella bacteria, antibiotic therapy can actually prolong infection and increase the length of time the body takes to stop shedding bacteria.