What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are among the most important parts of both veterinary and human medicine today, and yet many people still ask themselves, "What are antibiotics?" These medicines, which are available for your use with your pet as a prescription only, are still among the least known drugs that are commonly available. Read on for a brief overview of what antibiotics are, why they're so important and how they can help to treat many of your dog's conditions.

What Are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are drugs that are designed to kill different bacteria. The two main causes of disease in pets and humans alike are bacteria and viruses. Bacteria are small, microscopic organisms that can grow and multiply inside of a body or a system under certain conditions. Because of these organisms growing, the result is often an infection. Without proper treatment, the infection itself can spread and cause damage to your pet's body and may even result in death. A virus, on the other hand, is not caused by living creatures, per se. Viruses alter the DNA of cells in order to exist within your pet's body. They cannot be treated in the same way as bacteria.

Antibiotics are drugs that target bacteria only; they are of no use against viruses. However, there are a great number of different conditions that result as a direct impact of bacteria in your pet's system. The most serious of these are infections.

Functions of Antibiotics

There are two primary ways that antibiotics function. The first is as a bacteriacidal. This is a compound or chemical that kills off all bacteria, completely eliminating the population of offending bacteria. The second is as a bacteriastatic. This type of antibiotic disables the bacteria's reproductive mechanism, making it so that the bacteria cannot reproduce and perpetuate themselves. Either way, the bacteria will eventually die off and the infection will end.

Other Considerations

While antibacterials and antibiotics are important drugs and provide amazing benefits for pets that are suffering from bacterial infections or other conditions that result from bacteria, like meningitis, there are a few side effects and other concerns to be aware of. First of all, there are many helpful bacteria in your pet's body as well as harmful ones. Your pet's digestive tract relies upon bacteria that help to break down certain components of the food that he isn't able to digest properly on his own.

There are also many other systems in your pet's body that make use of helpful bacteria. Unfortunately, an antibacterial or an antibiotic cannot discriminate in most cases between good and bad kinds of bacteria. Therefore, when your pet takes an antibiotic, the helpful bacteria is also eliminated. This can result in digestive problems and many other side effects. It also means that you should not give your pet antibacterials for an extended period of time, as this can permanently disrupt his body systems.

If you have any other questions about bacteria in your pet's body, which types of conditions there are that can be treated with antibiotics and how to best administer antibiotics to your pet, speak with your veterinarian.