A study on non-prescription antibiotic use revealed a surprising fact: many people in the United States are taking their pet's antibiotics.
Antibiotics are a powerful and necessary part of modern medicine. They help bring infections under control when a body's natural antibodies might not be up for the task. But antibiotics are also powerful, and can be dangerous if taken incorrectly or unnecessarily.
That's why the findings of a recent study are so alarming. The study on non-prescription antibiotic use, published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, revealed that people are actually taking their pet's antibiotics.
Researchers initially underestimated how widespread this issue was, since they didn't even include this factor as a question in the study. However, 4% of the 400 study participants wrote in that they had used their pet's antibiotics before. Because the study sample was small, this could mean that the number of people actually taking their pet's antibiotics could actually be much greater.
The study also revealed that people had gotten antibiotics from friends and family, and some were even able to buy antibiotics without a prescription in pharmacies.
There are many potential issues with the idea of taking a pet's antibiotics. First of all, humans and animals metabolize medications differently. It would be difficult to gauge an appropriate dosage for a human based on a pet's prescription. Drugs are also formulated specifically for animals, so they may not be effective or may have damaging effects when used in humans.
But there's an even greater problem at hand. If you're sick and suspect that you're fighting an infection, you need to treat it with antibiotics developed to specifically treat that infection. Using the wrong type of antibiotics, or using a treatment which is too short, can actually contribute to antibiotic resistance.
These disease strains can gradually evolve and grow to resist the antibiotics that we have been using to fight them. These new strains of disease may spread, and we may have no way of stopping or treating them.
If you feel sick or suspect you have an infection, it's so important to go to the doctor to make sure that you treat it using the right type of medication. Never take your pet's antibiotics, even though it may seem convenient and cheaper than a trip to the doctor or emergency care. In the long run, you'll be healthier when you treat your symptoms appropriately.