April 18PRINCETON Most over-the-counter antibiotics are injectable products labeled for a specific use in large animals according to local veterinarian William Streit.
Several over-the-counter antibiotics are available in West Virginia for treating pets according to Streit.
"There are also some antibiotics available for treating fish," Streit said. "Since the dose of the antibiotic is based on the weight of the pet, cost of treatment will vary with the size of your pet. Cost also depends on the type of antibiotic, as well as the treatment duration. Antibiotics can cost as little as five or six dollars for a short course of a common antibiotic for a small animal, or as much as a few hundred dollars or more for a longer course of a less commonly used antibiotic for a larger dog."
Veterinarian Katie Hughes said she is not aware of illegal drugs being created from pet antibiotics. "I'm not aware of illegal drugs being manufactured from antibiotics," Hughes said. "The majority of regulations involving antibiotics are aimed at slowing down the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria, and protecting the public's health by keeping antibiotics from entering the food supply. When antibiotics are used incorrectly (for the wrong disease, at the wrong dose, or for the wrong length of time) it allows bacteria to live and multiply that are resistant to (can't be killed by) that antibiotic. This can be a real problem if those resistant bacteria, making it an untreatable disease. Antibiotics can cause reactions in people, some of which are life threatening, which is one reason it's so important to keep antibiotics out of the food supply."
Hughes said antibiotics are medications that are used to treat bacterial infections. "They work by either killing bacteria, or slowing the growth of bacteria," Hughes said. "Many of the antibiotics used in pets are also used in people. Another factor that determines cost of antibiotics is whether or not the FDA has approved their use in animals; this is called a labeled use of that medication, using a medication for anything other than what it's labeled for is called off label use. Antibiotics labeled for use in pets are often more expensive because it takes years of research by the drug manufacturer to determine the medication is effective and safe, and they have to conduct that research on every species that the drug is to be labeled for."
Streit said antibiotics for human use have been through a similar procedure, but that research has focused on the efficacy and safety of their use in people. "Antibiotics labeled for human use have often been available for longer periods of time so the manufacturer has had time to recoup their investment in having the drug labeled for human use, allowing the cost of the medication to decrease," Streit said. "You may think that it would be easy for veterinarians to choose to use a cheaper, human labeled antibiotic, instead of the more expensive pet-labeled antibiotic, but there are strict regulations about when a vet can and cannot prescribe off-label antibiotics."
Hughes said veterinarians are not trying to make money off the sale of antibiotics. "I think it's really important to remember that vets aren't trying to make it hard for people to obtain antibiotics and we're not trying to make money on the sale of antibiotics," Hughes said. "We genuinely care for your pets and want to make sure that they receive the best care possible for their particular condition. If you have concerns about the cost or availability of a medication (or any other treatment) make sure to bring them to your vet's attention so that all options can be considered and discussed."
Hughes said it's always more cost effective to obtain a diagnosis for a condition before just treating with antibiotics. "They will only work for bacterial infections," Hughes said. "So if your pet has any other conditions) viral or fungal infection, immune mediated disease, parasites, cancer intestinal obstruction) you've not only wasted money on an ineffective treatment, but you've also delayed obtaining with correct diagnosis and correct treatment for your pet, which could have costly and fatal consequences."
Hughes said antibiotic use can cause inaccurate test results, which is another waste of your money and another delay in determining the correct treatment. "Some antibiotics are safe in one species, but can kill another species," Hughes said. "While this may not be a costly mistake, it's certainly a heartbreaking one. Additionally, antibiotic use can cause side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, eye problems and neurological (brain) disease. Some of these side effects are treatable, some are not. Ensuring that antibiotics are used correctly can help minimize these effects, which will save money and help keep the pet comfortable and healthy."
Hughes urges pet owners to bring questions about pet antibiotics availability or cost to your vets attention.
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