Paws & Claws Address
Search

 

Questions for Dr. Shawn - Antibiotics

Back to Ask Dr Shawn page...

 

Dear Dr. Shawn:
"I enjoy your column and the helpful advice you always give out. I have a problem with my 9 year old cat Samson regarding antibiotics. When he was young he had pneumonia and recovered following treatment with antibiotics. Since about 6 years of age he began to get sick more often (several times a year.) His doctor always prescribes antiobiotics (usually amoxicilin or Clavamox, sometimes Baytril.) I don't really like giving him antibiotics for a long time as I don't think it's good for him. Do you have any other suggestions?"

Answer:
"While the occasional use of antibiotics usually won’t cause any harm, I agree with you that they shouldn’t be prescribed unless there is a reason to do so. Also, since Baytril is a potent antibiotic that has rarely caused blindness in older cats, I prefer to only use it for serious infections. Here are some questions I would consider. Does Samson have an infection that causes the doctor to prescribe antibiotics, or does the doctor not know what’s wrong and just routinely reaches for the “magic pill?” If he has an infection, why does he keep developing the infection? Is his illness always the same when he gets sick, or is each illness different? In my practice, I try not to use antibiotics without a rational reason. For most pets with mild and non-specific problems (pets that are just not feeling well,) I’ll usually use herbal remedies (like Herbal ABX) to act as a natural “antibiotic,” immune-supporting supplements (like Immunosupport and Echinacea-Comp) to help the pet recover on its own, a remedy (like Vibrant) which helps pets adapt to various stressors and stimulates appetite, and maybe a natural antiviral remedy (like Engystol) to cover any viral problems. Using this approach, most if not all of my patients with mild illness recover without any harm to their systems. In fact, this approach shows me that my patients can get better on their own with just a little bit of help from me without using harsh medications. If your cat continues to become ill, I suggest having the doctor do some testing to find out why (is there an immune system problem going on?)"


<Top>

 

Dear Dr. Shawn:
"My 5 year old Labrador Lux has been taking antibiotics for several years for what his doctor calls a Staph skin infection. He does better while he’s taking the medication but the skin infection returns shortly after stopping the antibiotics. The doctor said he’d probably need antibiotics for the rest of his life. I’d like to try a more holistic approach but was wondering how well this works for skin infections. Despite using holistic therapies do you ever encounter a dog that needs to be maintained on antibiotics forever for skin disease?"

Answer:
"Most of my patients with chronic skin disease only need infrequent antibiotic therapy as the holistic therapies we use usually work very well. First, for pets with chronic skin infections I always make sure an underlying problem such as allergies, food intolerance, or hypothyroidism is not the cause of the problem Assuming Lux does not have any of these issues, a holistic approach makes sense. Using frequent bathing to cleanse the skin, feeding a natural diet, using various supplements including antioxidants, fatty acids, and various herbs and homeopathics, you should be able to help Lux reduce his need for antibiotics.

While some pets treated with only conventional medications such as antibiotics require lifelong therapy, I have yet to encounter a pet with Staph skin infections that does not respond to a more holistic approach. The good news for you is that while not an overnight success, Lux will likely improve with time and the correct treatment. As a worse-case scenario, lifelong antibiotic therapy would be a last resort (and even then, if combined with immune-boosting supplements I bet that lower doses of the antibiotics could be used.)"


<Top>

 

Dear Dr. Shawn:
"I recently saw a news story about how antibiotics are over-prescribed for medical conditions in people. I know this is true, as my doctor is always prescribing amoxicillin every time my son is sick. I'm sure that veterinarians also over-prescribe antibiotics. Can you tell me some conditions that might be better treated with a more natural approach?"

Answer:
”Antibiotic use is increasing in pets and people. While antibiotics can be very helpful for those conditions caused by serious bacterial infections, very often a patient will improve by using alternatives to antibiotics. This is important, as repeated (and unnecessary) use of antibiotics can cause antibiotic resistance. This term means that with repeated antibiotic use, bacteria will become resistant to that antibiotic, making it ineffective. This is a serious and potentially life-threatening problem. Currently, there is an increase in cases of antibiotic resistant staph infections that have proved fatal in many cases. Therefore, as you suggested, alternatives to antibiotics should be used whenever practical. In my own practice, there are several conditions for which I rarely use antibiotics and still have wonderful success in treating my patients. One condition which responds really well to natural therapies is staph skin infections. For those pets with early or mild infections, I don’t use antibiotics but instead use a combination of herbs, homeopathics, and of course immune stimulants to help the pet heal itself. Yeast infections of the skin also respond well to a similar regimen and rarely need conventional medications. Another common condition for which antibiotics are rarely needed is urinary tract disease in cats. These cases are often difficult to treat, but rarely are bacteria ever involved as a cause. Cats with bladder issues usually respond well to a combination of herbs, homeopathics, and various nutritional supplements (dogs with bladder infections often respond as well.) There are other conditions as well for which antibiotics are often prescribed but not always needed. I suggest you work with your doctor to find alternatives to antibiotics for those cases which may not need conventional medications.”


<Top>

 

Dear Readers:
”Last week I shared with you some of the conditions for which antibiotics are often prescribed, yet for which natural therapies might be the preferred treatment. This week I want to share with you some of the conditions for which another class of drugs, NSAIDS, are often used when an alternative approach might be preferred. NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, are commonly used in pets and people to reduce pain and inflammation. Examples in people include Vioxx and Celebrex, and in pets Rimadyl, Metacam, EtoGesic, and Deramaxx. They are most commonly used before and after surgery (for a short period of time) to control pain. More commonly they are used indefinitely to control the pain associated with arthritis.

While I don’t have a problem with their use to control surgical pain (and use them myself for this condition,) I prefer not to use them to control chronic conditions such as arthritis. There are too many side effects that can occur (such as intestinal bleeding, liver disease, kidney disease, worsening of the arthritis, and even death.) There are much better alternatives to control arthritis pain that don’t have the side effects that can be seen with NSAIDS. Examples of supplements that help pets with arthritis include glucosamine, MSM, chondroitin, enzymes such as bromelain, and hyaluronic acid. Herbs such as willow bark and homeopathics such as arnica and hecla also work well. Acupuncture and magnetic therapy can also be effective.

If NSAIDS must be used to help pets with arthritis, they are most safely used on a limited basis (painful days) and then at a dose lower than the recommended or label dose.”

 

<Top>

 

Terms of Use | Privacy Statement
Copyright 2007, Paws & Claws Animal Hospital, All Right Reserved